Things You MUST Know About Fungal Nail Infections
You’ve noticed your nail changing for some time now. The colour may be gradually changing to a yellow or a white.. There may seem to be more build up beneath the nail and it may be starting to lift away.. The nail may appear more flaky or thick.. There may even be an associated odour. You may have one or all of the above symptoms and yes, unfortunately, it does sound like you’ve picked up a fungal nail infection -otherwise known as onychomycosis.
Don’t be alarmed! Not only are fungal nail infections MUCH more common than you think but they are very treatable!
So.. How are fungal nail infections picked up in the first place?
Fungus spreads through spores. For a nail to become infected, fungal spores must come in contact with the nail and the growth begins from there in or under the nail. Because fungus thrives in damp, moist environments and our feet spend a majority of the day in shoes and socks, it creates a perfect breeding ground for infections to arise. This is also why fungus is often picked up from public showers, at the gym, nail salons, and swimming pools - it only takes the infected person before you to stand in the same spot for you to be at risk of picking up the infection yourself. Of course, there are factors that make you extra vulnerable, such as being male (sorry guys!), increased age, a compromised ability to fight infection, diabetes, smoking and toenail injuries, among others!
Okay, so is it just the one type of fungus or are there many? How do I know what I have?
Just like the many strains of colds and flus out there, there are definitely many types of nail-infecting fungi out there. We’ve broken them down into two different types of fungi - Distal Subungal Onychomycosis (aka - the fungal infection that discolours your nails and makes them thick, crumbly and uncomfortable) and White Superficial Onychomycosis (aka - the type that only affects the very top layer of the nail and leaves white spots and chalkiness with no added thickness or separation between the nail and skin). The tricky part is that fungal infections can have the appearance of other medical conditions such as psoriasis and bacterial infections, so save yourself time and money in trying anti-fungal treatments that won’t work and get it checked by a podiatrist to make sure that you really do have a fungal nail infection to begin with.
So how do I treat it? I’ve heard people trying creams and lotions with no success?
You’ve definitely heard right and there are multiple factors to consider. Currently, the 3 main ways of treating nail fungus is through topical ointments/creams, oral anti-fungal medications and through laser treatment.
Option one is a topical cream. While widely used, as podiatrists, we see a lot of unhappy patients that have spent a lot of money on many of these different ointments, creams and lacquers from the pharmacy with no success. This can occur because:
- Some strains of fungus are definitely more stubborn and difficult to treat than others; and
- If you’re using an anti-fungal cream but don’t address your environment (your socks filled with microscopic fungal spores, your shoes filled with spores, your shower and so on), then the infection may very well continue to persist and re-infection may regularly occur!
Option two is oral anti-fungal medications. These can be more powerful than topical ointments, and you must get a prescription for one. These are, however, contraindicated for certain people as their potency poses a risk for serious long-term health risks such as liver damage, and cannot be taken in combination with certain medications.
The final option is laser treatment. To date, laser treatment has proven to be very effective while having no adverse effects. It’s 100% safe! Just make sure you chat to your podiatrist about which laser they use. Some lasers can be painful and burn your nail with the heat damaging the skin below. Here at The Podiatrist, we wanted to offer our patients the best and most effective laser solution to eliminate their fungal nail infection once and for all, so have invested into the LunulaLaser system - and we haven’t looked back! We love it because:
- It’s pain-free with NO burning
- It’s 100% safe
- No need to take time off before/after the procedure
- It has proven results in just 12 minutes
- Our patients love it!
Alongside the treatment we also ensure to provide you with everything you need to know about caring for your feet and the steps to take to reduce the chance of anyone in your household picking up the infection or you becoming reinfected!
Our team would be happy to tell you more about the LunulaLaser system and help you conquer that pesky fungi! Give us a call today on 07 4638 3022. We’re here to help.