Nail Fungal Infection

A foot showing the toes with the big toe chipped and discoloredNail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a condition in which one or more of the nails of the fingers or toes become infected with fungal organisms. This causes a yellowing or other discoloration of the nail as the fungus moves deeper into the tissue. Nail fungus can be painful and may eventually lead to the separating of the nail and nail bed, a condition known as onycholysis.

Cause

Fungal infections are fairly common because microscopic fungal, yeast and mold organisms are present everywhere in the environment. Toenails are particularly susceptible to infection because they are often kept in warm, moist environments in which these microscopic organisms thrive.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may look for the symptoms listed below to diagnose or rule out the condition, or a sample may be obtained from the nail in question for further investigation under a microscope.

Symptoms

If you have any of these symptoms, give us a call to schedule a consultation. While toenail fungus infections can be stubborn, they are treatable. Left untreated, however, the infection will only get worse over time.

A close up of the big toe with the nail broken and discoloredCommon symptoms of a nail fungal infection include:

  • Discolored nails
  • Thickened, dull (shine-free) or distorted nails
  • Yellow streaked nails
  • Buildup of debris under the nail
  • Separation between the nail and skin
  • Brittle, ragged nails
  • White spots on the surface of the nail

Treatment Options

Your doctor may suggest one or more of the following courses of action to treat your toenail fungal infection:
Laser Fungal Treatment: A laser is used on the nail to heat up and subsequently destroy the organism. More than one procedure may be needed for a successful outcome.

  • Oral Antifungal Medications: A six to 12 week treatment may be prescribed to clear up your infection, which may take a full four months or longer to completely resolve. Your doctor may ask you to have a liver functioning test before prescribing oral antifungals.
  • Topical Antifungals: Available in the form of lacquers (nail polish) or ointments, your doctor may use topical antifungals in addition to oral medications to assist in clearing up the infection.