Could You Have A Fungal Toenail Infection?
Fungal toenail infection is a relatively common foot problem that anyone can develop, but it does seem to be more prominent in the elderly population. This type of infection typically starts with a small patch of fungus developing under the tip of your toenail. The fungus will be white or yellow and will spread across your toe, if left untreated. As the fungus spreads, several nails can become infected and you may experience localised pain due to the thickening of the nails. This type of infection can also spread beyond your nails if it's not treated, and the longer it's left, the more challenging it can be to treat. A fungal toenail infection can leave you feeling self-conscious about your feet, and this causes some sufferers to stop engaging in exercise activities they once enjoyed, such as swimming or yoga. However, there are several treatment options available and you should know that your podiatrist has seen lots of cases of fungal toenail infections, so there's no need to feel embarrassed about seeking treatment.
Signs Of A Fungal Toenail Infection
In addition to an infected toenail becoming yellow and thickening, a fungal toenail infection can also cause the nail to become brittle and crumble. The shape of the nail may become distorted, and you may notice the growth pattern of the nail slows down. Additionally, there is sometimes a foul smell from the affected nail, particularly when the infection has been left untreated for an extended period.
Diagnosing And Treating A Fungal Toenail Infection
Your podiatrist will diagnose a fungal toenail infection by taking a scraping from the affected nail and sending it for analysis. This will allow them to confirm a fungal infection is the cause of the problem, as there are some other conditions that can cause the same symptoms as a fungal nail infection, such as psoriasis and bacterial infection. Identifying the fungus causing the infection will allow your podiatrist to formulate an effective treatment plan.
Fungus toenail treatment may include a topical antifungal for a mild infection or an oral antifungal, which may be of particular benefit if it appears that the fungal infection is spreading. In some cases, your podiatrist will recommend debridement, which involves thinning the nail with a sanding tool with the aim of removing the infected layer of nail. Debridement can successfully remove all of the fungus in some cases, while in other cases, it can help speed up the eradication of the infection when combined with an antifungal treatment.
If you think you have a fungal toenail infection, book a foot exam with your podiatrist.