Fungal toenail infections are the cause of almost half of all nail disorders, and emerge due to the growth of fungi under the nail. Typically, fungal infections are seen in the toenails, but they can also be found in the fingernails. Anyone can get nail fungus, but it is more common in older people, individuals with diabetes, those who have suffered a nail injury, and people with weak or compromised immune systems. Most often, the infection is caused when your feet are exposed to fungus and are continually sweaty, and enclosed in socks or shoes.
Nail fungus (onychomycosis) is not serious, but it does change the aesthetic of your feet. Once infected, your nails become thick but brittle. The nails crack, become ragged and misshapen, and often have discoloration: turning dark yellow, or even brown. Nail fungus usually does not resolve on its own, and over-the-counter medications are not always effective in treating fungal nail infections. If you suspect that you have a nail fungus infection, visit Dr. Browne at her Bay Area practice, Illustra Dermatology, so that she can determine a treatment plan that is right for you.
To treat nail fungus, Dr. Browne and her Bay Area team typically start by obtaining a nail clipping sample. For this procedure, the infected nail is trimmed back to where it is attached to the skin, and then sent for a microscopic examination and/or culture. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, Dr. Browne may prescribe a topical or oral antifungal treatment for the infected nail(s). During treatment, you will want to replace your old socks, or even purchase new shoes to stop the spread of the fungus inside of your socks and shoes. In more severe cases with persistent nail fungus, the most effective treatments are antifungal pills. If the fungal infection does not resolve with these methods, it might be necessary for Dr. Browne to remove the infected nail entirely to allow for new, fungus-free nail growth.
To learn more about treatment options for nail fungus infection in the Bay Area, visit board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adrianna Browne at Illustra Dermatology today.