In its earliest stages, the only symptoms of a fungal toenail infection may be some white marks on the nail. And, since there may be no pain or discomfort, many people don’t bother having it evaluated by a podiatrist. But toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, as it spreads beneath the surface of the nail can eventually cause the entire nail to become discolored, thick, and crumbly. Debris may begin to collect under the nail plate and a foul odor may come from the nail. The infection is often accompanied by a secondary yeast or bacterial infection and is capable of spreading to the skin and fingernails. Left untreated, onychomycosis can become painful, even to the point where walking becomes difficult. People with diabetes and other diseases that impact the circulatory or immune systems need to be particularly vigilant about toenail infections as these can have serious medical consequences for these patients.
At Lansdowne Podiatry we treat many cases of fungal toenail infection each year. Our podiatrist, Dr. Monique Renee Rolle will want to do a thorough examination of your toe and foot to determine the presence and severity of an infection. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, Dr. Rolle will choose the correct treatment for you. It may include oral or topical anti-fungal medications, cleaning the infected matter out of the nail, and in more extreme cases, removal of the infected nail.
Avoiding Fungal Infections
There are steps you can take to prevent fungal nail infections, including:
- Wash, dry, and inspect feet daily. This will help you identify toenail infection (and any other disorders) in the earliest stages.
- Never walk barefoot in public areas that are damp, such as community pools, showers, and locker rooms.
- Don’t share footwear or socks with others.
- Keep feet dry: use powder on your feet and change socks frequently if you perspire heavily
- Avoid socks and shoes that are tight and keep moisture trapped next to your toes. Choose breathable materials for footwear and designs that allow air circulation around the foot.
- Be sure to sanitize all pedicure equipment (clippers, files, etc.) and if you have pedicures in a salon, check to see that they follow proper sterilizing procedures.
- Keep a particular eye on your toenails after any injury—even tiny cuts to the skin on the feet and toes can allow fungi and bacteria to enter and cause a nail infection.
If you do see signs of a fungal toenail infection, call our Leesburg office at (571) 223-0424 or schedule an appointment online.