02 Jan Before you Trim That Hurting Toenail
Leave Those Fungal Nails Alone
It starts as a constant itch between your toes. After a few days, the itch is unbearable and the skin around your toes is red, scaling and swelling. It’s a toenail fungus, and it afflicts millions of people every year.
An Ugly Situation
Fungal nail is the common term for tinea unquium or onchomycosis.
Nail fungus is not dangerous, but it can be hideously unsightly. The fungus causes your toenails to turn varying shades of green, gray, blue and yellow. As the toenail grows thick and hard, it becomes hard to clip. Attempts to cut it can result in shredded powder or a toenail that tears off in layers.
None of this is pleasant. Unfortunately, there are no home remedies or over-the-counter treatments that really work on toenail fungus.
Don’t Make This Mistake
Most people end up visiting a podiatrist when they contract a fungal toe, and that’s an excellent addition. Many people, however, also think they have to clean up their yucky toes before they go.
That’s a mistake. Although you might feel embarrassed, your foot care doctor needs to see your toenail in all its fungal glory. That’s the only way a podiatrist can get the right diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment.
Get the Right Diagnosis
When you’re in the office, your doctor must take nail clippings and scrape debris from under your nail. Testing these items will allow your doctor to determine precisely what you have.
It might not be a fungal infection. The symptoms of fungal nail and psoriasis can look the same. If you have psoriasis, you’ll need an entirely different treatment than you would need for nail fungus. It could also be a bacterial or yeast infection.
It could be a hematoma. Some of the symptoms of a fungal toenail are similar to those of bruising under the nail.
The level of infection will determine the treatment. Your doctor must assess the severity and type of infection to prescribe the right treatment. There are various options ranging from topical medications to surgery. You need to be sure your doctor prescribes the correct one.
Treating Fungal Nail Infections
The sooner you get to a podiatrist and get the correct treatment plan, the sooner you’ll be on your way to normal, natural-looking toes again.
Most podiatrists may recommend one or a combination of the following treatment methods.
Oral medications: The best-known oral antifungal drugs are itraconazole (Sporanox) and terbinafine (Lamisil). You’ll need to take the pills for 10 to 12 weeks and possibly longer. Oral medication is the fastest way to treat nail fungus, but these drugs can have serious side effects.
Topical medications: Your doctor might prescribe a topical nail cream or a medicated nail polish. You will need to use these daily for eight months to a year.
Thinning: A podiatrist can remove the thickest, most brittle top layers of your toenail. Thinning the nail reduces pain and pressure, makes the toenail look better and allows medications to penetrate.
Surgical removal: In severe cases, you may need surgical removal of the entire toenail. Surgical removal seems extreme, but if your toenail fungus has become painful, it is a safe option that promotes the growth of a healthy new toenail.
Get Clear About Fungal Nails
Don’t let embarrassment about your ugly, brittle and discolored nails keep you from getting the medical attention you need. Leave your toes alone. Don’t try to clean out the dirt or debris before going to your appointment. Make it easy for your doctor to give you the right diagnosis and treatment.
At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we see fungal nails every day. We can prescribe a treatment that will get rid of those ugly, discolored nails and grow new nails that are strong and healthy.