Fungi, like an uninvited guest, can undesirably make themselves at home in various environments, including the human body. Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection that affects the toenails, causing them to become discolored, thickened, and brittle. If left untreated, toenail fungus can lead to more severe foot conditions. In this brief read, we share some basics on toenail fungus, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Residents in the area who are looking for a licensed podiatrist, or foot doctor, can call Podiatry Centers of Maryland to schedule a convenient appointment.
Fungi are microorganisms that can live in different environments, including the human body. When those microscopic organisms invade the nail bed, the result is often a toenail fungus infection. It can be spread from person to person through direct contact or by sharing personal items such as nail clippers, socks, or shoes.
Toenail fungus is a common condition that can affect people of all ages, but it is more prevalent among older adults. People with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, or a weakened immune system are especially susceptible to toenail fungus.
Several factors can contribute to the development of toenail fungus. One of the most common causes is excessive moisture in the feet, which can occur due to sweating, wearing tight shoes or thick socks, or walking barefoot in public areas such as locker rooms or swimming pools.
Trauma to the toenail, such as stubbing your toe or cutting it, can also increase the risk of developing toenail fungus. Finally, a weakened immune system can make you more susceptible to toenail fungus, and fungal infections in general.
The symptoms of toenail fungus may vary from person to person, but they usually include thickened nails, discoloration of the nail (yellow, brown, or white), brittleness or crumbling of the nail, debris buildup under the nail, and foul odor from the affected nail. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's essential to seek treatment promptly to prevent the infection from spreading.
Topical antifungal medications are often the first line of treatment for toenail fungus. These medications are applied directly to the affected nail and surrounding skin. Oral antifungal medications, taken by mouth, are another common option for treating toenail fungus. However, they can have side effects and interact with other medications, so it's important to consult with a podiatrist before starting oral antifungal treatment.
There are also more sophisticated solutions performed by podiatrists in District Heights. Laser therapy, for instance, uses targeted light to kill the fungus. Note that it is often more expensive than other treatments and may not be covered by insurance. In severe cases, surgical removal of the nail may be necessary to treat toenail fungus. This procedure involves removing part or all of the affected nail to allow for new, healthy nail growth.
A podiatrist in Clinton, MD is essentially a foot doctor, and it is important to see a podiatrist for toenail fungus because they can accurately diagnose the condition and recommend the most effective treatment options. They can also provide guidance on proper foot hygiene and suggest preventive measures to reduce the risk of infection and avoid complications.
Residents in the area can call Podiatry Centers of Maryland to schedule an appointment with a licensed podiatrist today. Our courteous team is on standby to take your call.