Dr. E. Charisse Dunn D.P.M.
5610 PGA Blvd., Suite 212
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

Fungal Toenails

Fungal Toenails:

Toenails that are thick, discolored, malodorous, and possibly painful may be the result of a fungal infection. There are a variety of conditions that can cause nail changes, such as fungus, yeast, psoriasis, eczema, trauma to the nail, and circulatory problems. In order to identify the cause of the infection, it is often necessary to take a sample of the nail for confirmation. Because fungus is such a common organism, anyone can be susceptible to the infection. However, fungal infections are more common in adults, people with diabetes, and those with circulation problems. Fungal infections can occur from a warm, moist environment such as shoes that cause the foot to be warm and sweaty, walking barefoot in locker rooms or outside, and can even be caused from fungus that lies in grass, dirt, or on wet floors. Occasionally several people in the same family will get fungal infections at the same time. This can occur when the family members use the same nail clippers or towels, or share the same shower.

Prevention of Fungal Toenails:

Excessive moisture should be controlled, and can be accomplished by wearing 100% cotton socks, changing into dry socks after any physical or sporting activity, and using moisture absorbing foot powder inside the socks to keep the feet dry. It is important to check that the shoes fit properly and are not too small. If possible, avoid pointy toed dress shoes that press the toes together. Shoe gear should be worn in all public areas including locker rooms. Family members should avoid sharing their nail clippers with each other.

Treatment of Fungal Nails:

Topical solutions can be effective for early infections where the nail thickening is minimal, and the infection is superficial. With thicker nails and deeper, more difficult to treat fungal infections, oral medication may be necessary. Appropriate bloodwork may be necessary prior to initiating oral antifungal therapy. Laser treatment of fungal toenails can be used in conjunction with, or as an alternative to, oral antifungal therapy. Laser treatment is an excellent alternative for patients seeking a more natural treatment to their fungal condition. Laser therapy has the advantage of being painless, effective for both superficial and deep infections, and can be used on patients with any medical condition.

It is important to remember that fungal infections are often resolved but rarely cured due to the nature of the organism. A daily regimen of topical antifungal therapy, antifungal spray and/or powders, and proper hygiene is necessary to achieve the best results.