27 Sep How to Treat a Fungal Nail Infection
A fungal nail infection is known by doctors as “Onychomycosis” and will typically result in the unsightly yellowish nail appearance you may have experienced. Fungal nail infections are a common problem and account for around 50 to 60% of abnormal nails seen by family practitioners. Some studies suggest that anywhere between 1 and 10% of the population is suffering from a nail infection – the likelihood of having one slowly and steadily increasing as you age. Whilst they are incredibly common they can also be incredibly difficult to shift. That’s why it’s important to seek specialist advice to explore all the treatment options.
How do I know I have a fungal nail infection?
We have already mentioned the key hallmark of a fungal nail infection, namely the yellow discoloration of the toenails. But there are a number of other different effects. These include:
- At first, your toes may turn white, then yellow and then brown. The big toe is often the initial site of the infection and the most commonly affected nail.
- Over time you may see the infection spreading across the toenails.
- Some patients may notice some pain in the nail either chronically or acutely (if they have bashed the toe etc).
There are also a number of things that may increase your risk of developing a fungal nail infection. These include:
- Advancing age
- Tinea pedis (a skin infection)
- A history of swimming
- Living with family members who also have fungal nail infections
- Patients who have exposure to moist environments (for instance some suggest this is the cause of higher incidence of infection in bartenders).
What can I do to treat a fungal nail infection?
There are a number of options to treat the infection, and typically most patients will start by seeing their local family practitioner and first-line medications. However, if this does not work (as it often doesn’t) many patients don’t seek specialist help from a foot clinic that may be able to provide a broader range of new and exciting treatments. Some treatments you may be offered include:
- Patients will often first be offered oral terbinafine. This is an antifungal drug which slowly kills off the fungus.
- In some patients who get severe side effects to antifungals then a topical treatment (aka an ointment or cream) can be trialed. This is rubbed into the affected nail.
Usually, these antifungal drugs are as far as family practitioners go. However, if the infection is still not cleared you can get in contact with specialist foot clinics that offer a laser therapy. The laser is applied to the toe and will heat up the fungi to a point where they cannot sustain life. This treatment has been highly effective for thousands of patients across the United States. If you have a troubling nail infection that you just can’t shift – get in contact today.