You’ve seen the TV commercial with the creatures having a party inside a toenail. It’s not so funny if you’re the one with the “creatures” in your toenails. But the bugs do have a name – dermatophytes. And they really do love the keratin that makes up your toenails.
These bugs are actually a fungus, and they can cause your toenails (and even fingernails) to become discolored, thick and misshapen.
Dr. Schlessinger comments on the risk of acquiring fungal infections at nail salons.
1 in 10 people who see a dermatologist come for problems with toenails or fingernails. Fungal infections cause about half of those problems.
Don’t ignore symptoms such as a change in the shape or color of a toenail or its thickness. You might see swelling around the nail, bleeding or pus, or have pain.
Toenails are more likely than fingernails to be affected by a fungus (the medical name for nail fungus is onychomycosis). Why are toenails so vulnerable? Because toes are often inside cozy socks and surrounded by a tight shoe. Warm, sweaty feet happily welcome the growth of fungus.
Fungus is everywhere, and it just needs a little invitation to invade unsuspecting feet. That’s why wearing flip flops in swimming pools and in locker rooms and showers at your gym is always a good idea.
Nail problems can appear any time in life, but the risk for toenail fungus increases with age, and many seniors develop the problem.
What are your toenail fungus treatment options?
Treatment can help you cure or control your fungus, and your dermatologist has many options because what works for one person may not help another.
Many medications can cause side effects, and your doctor is sensitive to these concerns. He will work with you to find a good solution for your condition.
Prescription anti-fungal medications may be in the form of pills you take, a topical solution drizzled into the nail area or a cream you use on your feet – or combination treatment may be prescribed. Athlete’s foot is usually caused by the same fungus, so topical medications can help treat the athlete’s foot.
Fungus grows under the nail in the nail bed. Topical medications may not reach the infected area, which is why pills may help knock out the infection through the bloodstream. Sometimes, both forms of medications may be used to treat infected nails.