For such a small part of the body, your toenails can be quite a source of embarrassment. Healthy, strong, and attractive toenails may be fine, but if they are an odd color or texture—or even worse, have an odor—all we want to do is hide them away. You could have any of these symptoms if you have a toenail fungus.
When Pathogens Attack Your Nails
Our toes come in contact with many things in our environment. You can pick up yeasts, molds, and fungi that can slip through the tiniest slit in your skin or between your nail and toe. They find a home under your nail and start to grow. You may first notice a small yellow or white spot under your nail, and it spreads until your whole nail turns yellow, thick, and brittle. It can even start to crumble and flake off, and the fungus can let off an unpleasant smell as it feeds on the tissue. Fungal toenails are unsightly, but the condition could also be dangerous if you have a compromised immune system, diabetes, or poor circulation that doesn't allow your body to fight it off.
What Toenail Fungus Likes and How to Thwart It
These organisms are most at home in dark, warm, moist environments, so they thrive in places like public pools, showers, or saunas. The best way to avoid picking it up in the first place is to always wear flip flops or shower shoes in these places. The fungus also loves it when your feet stay damp inside your shoes and socks. If your feet sweat a lot, choose socks that wick away moisture, and change them throughout the day if needed. It’s best to have more than one pair of comfortable shoes, too, so you can switch off and let one pair dry thoroughly while wearing the other. Around the house, you can leave your shoes off for part of the time and let your feet dry out as well.
Treating Toenail Fungus Takes Patience
If you come to the Palmer Foot Clinic at the first sign of a problem, you have a better chance of nipping it in the bud. It won’t go away on its own, and it is more difficult to treat as it gets worse. It is especially important for those with diabetes to seek help immediately, as poor circulation can cause their foot problems to quickly progress to serious issues. Antifungal solutions and creams may be effective for mild cases to help get rid of the infection. Oral medications are also an option, but they may have side effects, and you will need to have a blood test monthly during treatment to check your liver function. People with liver or heart problems will not be able to use these medications. Laser treatments are a safe and effective method to treat fungus at any stage. Whichever method is used, growing out the new healthy nail will take several months so you must be patient.
If you suspect that small yellow patch on your nail may be the start of a fungal infection, call Podiatrist Iain Palmer in Winnipeg, at (204) 697-0649 today. We care about your foot health, and treating fungal toenails is one of our specialties.