Fungal infections of the toe nails are a common foot malady that an individual can – and should – bring to the attention of a podiatrist. While the symptoms of yellowed, brittle and thick nails are unsightly, distressing and easily recognized, not everyone knows what causes the problem and what can be done. Here's what the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has to say about what precipitates infection with toe nail fungus and what you and your doctor can do about it.
Cause and contributing factors of toe nail fungus
The micro-organism which causes toe nail fungal infections is called Tinea Unguium. This fungus is practically everywhere, but it especially enjoys wet or moist and dark environments such as:
- gymnasium locker rooms
- areas around swimming pools
- gym floors and exercise equipment
- sweaty socks
- closed toe shoes and sneakers
- most anywhere that people are barefoot
While healthy individuals "catch" this fungus all the time, people with less than optimal health are more likely to have toe nail fungus. They have a harder time getting rid of it, too. Those who are more prone are diabetics, persons with circulatory problems, cancer patients and anyone else whose immune defenses are suppressed.
Treatment for those yellow, thick, brittle toe nails
Prevention and treatment of this infection go together. Podiatrists say good foot hygiene involves:
1. Washing and drying the feet with soap and water each day and after excessive perspiring from work or exercise
2. Wearing shower sandals or flip-flops in locker rooms
3. Cutting the nails straight across (not rounding them) with clean clippers that are shared with no one else
4. Wearing shoes that do not put excessive pressure on the toe nails and that have good ventilation, especially in the warm weather
5. Wearing breathable socks and hosiery
Your podiatrist may recommend an over the counter or prescription anti-fungal medication which may applied topically to the outside edges of the entire toe nail. Some doctors prescribe an oral anti-fungal agent although this may prove to be too toxic for some patients.
The Pinpointe FootLaser
Marc Feder DPM and Joel Feder DPM of Affiiliated Podiatrists, Ltd. offer a state-of-the art laser treatment for toe nail fungus. Cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this painless treatment focuses a beam of light through the toe nail, targeting the area of infection. The nail plate, nail bed and other healthy tissue of the foot are not harmed, but the fungus is eliminated in one treatment session.
The doctors ensure thorough treatment. When the nails are looked at in the follow-up exam the observed new nail growth is clearer.
Drs. Marc and Joel Feder practice podiatry for patients of all ages in the northside Chicago, Illinois area. In addition to treating nail fungus, they address many foot conditions, including ingrown toe nails, heel pain, and diabetic foot health.
Call them today at 773-202-8800 for an appointment to evaluate your foot health.