A truth we might not always want to think about is that we have plenty of organisms hitching a ride on us. From bacteria in our guts to microscopic mites on our eyelashes, most are actually nothing to worry about. Even more, there are some—such as the case with most gut bacteria—that help us out.
Toenail fungus is not one such helpful organism, however. When it gets into your nails, the fungus makes its presence known in a thick, discolored, brittle, and sometimes even painful way. One of the fungi that can cause fungal toenails is also the same one responsible for athlete’s foot, so it’s a problem even when it’s not on your nails!
So how does toenail fungus come to take claim to your feet, and what can you do about these unwelcome organisms?
Causes of Fungal Toenail Infections
Most types of fungus need three things to survive well: moisture, warmth, and darkness. Unfortunately, our feet tend to tread and reside in locations that have these elements in abundance.
Many cases of fungal toenails are picked up in public areas such as gyms, locker rooms, and pools; spots where there are lots of bare feet, dampness, and dankness. Unfortunately, if we do pick up a fungus on our feet, we then tend to stick them in shoes. These too are dark and warm, and our own sweat can be enough to keep a fungus happy.
Our immune systems are often enough to take down a fungal invasion before it gets the chance to roost. Sometimes, however, it just doesn’t happen and we end up with a problem in our nails.
Treatments for Toenail Fungus
There are several types of treatments for fungal nails, and the best course of action will depend on the severity of your infection as well as your personal health and needs.
Foot and Ankle Clinics of Arizona provides both traditional and advanced treatments, including our high-tech laser therapy. Using specific frequencies of light energy, we can penetrate through layers of nail and reach the fungus where it resides. After a series of sessions, the fungus is fully eradicated in most cases.
Additional treatments we may use in conjunction with or instead of laser therapy include topical and oral anti-fungal medications. This may involve filing the nail down to better reach the fungus directly, and oral medications are not recommended for all patients due to certain side effects.
It takes time for a fungal nail infection to clear up, so the sooner you start treatment, the better! You are also not fully out of the woods once it is gone. An infection can always come back, so it’s important to take steps to protect your feet and footwear from another invasion.
Anti-fungal powders and creams are a significant help, as is wearing shower shoes in public areas. You should also take measures not to share your toenail clippers or footwear with other people.
If you need help taking fungal nails out of your life, don’t hesitate any longer. Give us a call (480) 917-2300 or schedule an appointment using our online service.