Nail fungus prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in Franklin, TN
Fungal nail infections are quite common, and unfortunately, very easy to contract. It typically begins as a yellow or whiteish spot near the tip of a toenail or fingernail. It not treated, the spot will spread and likely infect other nails. We offer a variety of treatment options for nail fungus here at CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center in Franklin, TN.
Symptoms of toenail fungus
Depending on the type and severity of infection, there may be few symptoms. The most common sign is discoloration of one or more nails. Fungal infection can affect fingernails, toenails, or both. However, it is most common in toenails.
The signs of infection may include:
- Thickening or changes in shape of the nail
- Unusual buildup of dark-colored debris under the nail
- Yellowish, brownish, or white discoloration
- Changes in the nail texture, often flakey or crumbly
- Faint foul odor
What causes fungal nail infections
Fungal infections are most often contracted in public spaces such as pool showers or gym locker rooms. These areas are warm and moist, creating the ideal host environment for contagious fungus. If someone who has toenail infections walks across the floor, that person leaves behind fungal spores. You are exposed when you, also without shoes, step in the same area.
Males and females of all ages can contract nail fungal infection, but it is more common in older adults. That is because many of the risk factors mentioned below are more prevalent with age.
Risk factors for nail infections include:
- Current of past athlete’s foot (it is a fungal infection of the skin that can spread to the nails)
- Impaired blood flow in the feet or hands
- Weak immune system
- Medical conditions such as diabetes
- Injuries to the skin or nails on your hands or feet
- Thick, dry, brittle, or fractured nails
- Frequently use of communal swimming pools, water parks, gym showers, or other damp environments
When to seek treatment
There are several over-the-counter products and proclaimed home remedies for nail fungus. However, this type of infection is especially difficult to eliminate and usually requires professional treatment.
It is advisable to seek medical evaluation and treatment if your symptoms don’t clear up, or if they continue to worsen. Untreated nail fungus may spread, causing it to become quite painful. It can also cause lasting damage to the nail. People with compromised circulation or immunity may be at risk of the infection spreading to soft tissue. Additionally, self-diagnosis may not be accurate, because some conditions such as psoriasis can cause nail damage that is very similar in appearance to fungal infection.
How nail fungus is diagnosed and treated
When you visit for a consultation, your clinician will carefully examine the affected nail or nails. We may collect clippings and samples of under-nail debris, which is sent to a laboratory for diagnostic testing. In addition to confirming infection, diagnostics can determine the specific type of fungus involved, enabling us to choose the most effective treatment.
Your clinician may recommend:
- Oral antifungal drugs – There are several formulas, such as itraconazole or terbinafine. They work by preventing infection of new nail growth. After a full course of medication, usually about 12 weeks, the patient is free of infection. Healthy new growth gradually replaces the damaged portion of the nail, a process that takes a few months after completion of the prescription.
- Topical medicine – Oral antifungals can have unwanted side effects and are not appropriate for people with certain medical conditions. For these patients, we may use various forms of topical antifungals. One option is a type of medicated nail polish that you paint on the area daily and remove once a week. Another option is antifungal cream, which is applied to the nail and allowed to soak in.
- Surgery – In the most severe cases, surgical removal of a toenail, either temporary or permanent, may be necessary. However, most patients can be treated effectively with some form of antifungal medication.
Nail care tips
Your probably have daily skincare and haircare regimens, but the fingernails and toenails are often overlooked. However, nail care is not purely aesthetic. Dry, brittle, or cracked nails are more susceptible to infection. Additionally, unhealthy nails may a sign of skin disease or a systemic medical problem.
Keep nails clean, smooth, and neatly trimmed. Take time to look at them, noting any signs of infection or other problems. Pay attention to the surrounding skin as well. If it is dry, flaky, or cracked it is more susceptible to infection. Don’t forget the moisturizer! If you have concerns, give us call. We offer excellent solutions for a wide range of skin and nail problems. Maintaining healthy nails is one of the best methods of preventing infection. Additionally, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of nail fungus:
- Wear foot protection, such as shower sandals or flip-flops, in locker-rooms and similar public areas.
- Try to keep feet and hands dry. If your socks become sweaty, change into a clean pair.
- Alternate your footwear. Moisture accumulates in shoes, creating an ideal environment for fungi growth. Avoid wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row and put on clean socks every day.
- Never share nail clippers, files, or other manicure and pedicure tools with someone else. Keep these items clean, and store in a dry place. If you have any infected nails, sterilize tools after each use.
- If you visit a nail salon, be sure to choose a reputable one that has stringent sanitation standards. Ask which tools are re-used and how often those things are sterilized. After each client, clippers and anything else that contacts the nail should be either disposed of or sanitized.
Treatment for nail fungus is generally highly effective, but it can be a lengthy process. The most efficient treatments and best outcomes are achieved when the problem is addressed early. If you want to eliminate toenail fungus, don’t wait to visit CoolSprings Laser, Aesthetic & Skin Care Center. Call us at (615) 784-3223 and schedule your consultation today.