Toenail fungus is scary—in more ways than one. First of all, the appearance of dry, brittle, crumbly, yellow nails makes you wonder what is going on. The first symptoms aren’t that noticeable, maybe a yellowish spot and a thick nail here and there, nothing to cause too much alarm. Then, before you know it, you’re dealing with a full-blown case of fungal toenails.
What Is This Scary Fungus and How Did I Get It?
A protein called keratin makes up the hard material that you see as your nail. Fungal toenail infections attack the keratin in your nail and can even extend to the nail plate, bed, and root.
Fungal nail infections are common and most often happen because of a skin infection called athlete’s foot. Have you heard of it? It exhibits symptoms like red, flaky, itchy, peeling skin. Turns out, athletes aren’t the only ones susceptible to this condition. Anyone whose feet are constantly damp is at risk. Fungi grow in warm, moist environments which include public locker rooms, swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, and humid climates in general.
Who’s at Risk?
When the protective skin underneath the front of your nail is constantly irritated, it may become damaged and allow fungi to make their way into your nail bed. People who have diabetes, psoriasis, a weak immune system, or those who smoke are at increased risk for toenail fungus. If you have a damaged nail from running or a traumatic injury, watch out for symptoms of this condition. Wearing shoes and socks that trap moisture against your feet is also a factor.
Have a Sixth Sense for Symptoms
At first, you probably won’t feel any pain. In its place, you’ll start to see your nail turn different colors, maybe white, black, or yellowish green. Your nail may also start to thicken. Then, the pain can start. For some people, it doesn’t bother them at first. However, soon it may be harder to wear shoes or even walk without some type of discomfort. Your nail could become very brittle and even fall off. Don’t wait until then to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brian McDowell.
Get Treatment from the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group
Once the toenail fungus grabs a hold of you, it takes a while for it to let go, especially if you’ve left it untreated because it wasn’t causing you pain, which is what some people choose to do. It can take an entire year for the infection to completely clear up, depending on how severe your condition is and what methods you use to eradicate it.
When you need treatment, visit the McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group to get the best advice and the most expert care. We can prescribe a topical antifungal cream or powder and suggest that you try an oral antifungal medication, or we can use laser treatment. Some people decide to go with laser treatments because of the harmful side effects that oral prescriptions can have on your body. Once the healthy nail matrix grows in and pushes out the infected keratin, you’ll nails will be as good as new.
If you see signs of a toenail fungus lurking around, it’s probably not going anywhere. Call our office in Carmichael, CA, at (916) 961-3434 and leave your problem to the pros. Treat it early, instead of waiting for it to get really scary.