Toenail fungus is an unpleasant sounding problem and indeed it’s an unpleasant one to experience as well. Technically known as onychomycosis, toenail fungus is a condition where the nail comes under attack from a fungal infection leading to deterioration of the nail bed, matrix and plate. Nail fungus can be an aesthetic concern and is somewhat embarrassing and at the same time, it can also lead to discomfort impeding your ability to engage in a range of everyday activities. Where the infection is severe, this can lead to permanent damage to the nails and it can even spread beyond them.
Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to treat toenail fungus and some simple ways to get rid of it!
Before you can get rid of toenail fungus, you first need to look out for the signs and identify the problem in the first place. Making life difficult though, is the fact that toenail fungus isn’t always consistent in its symptoms. The most common sign is pain and sensitivity in the toes or the nail though this can be caused by a number of factors.
As mentioned however, toenail fungus can be an unpleasant looking problem and so after a while, the visible symptoms will be sure to show up. These include changes in the nail color causing it to become yellow, or white with streaks. You may also notice a build up of ‘debris’ around and under the nail. The edges of the nail can also thicken and this may eventually lead to the nail becoming lose, lifting up or becoming brittle and cracking.
If you notice these symptoms, it’s important to act quickly as fungus such as tricophyton rubrum can otherwise lead to permanent damage to the nail. Other common causes include molds, and yeasts from the candida species.
You may be tempted to use an over-the-counter product designed to treat fungal infections. A common choice will be antifungal creams intended for athletes foot – stay away from these however as they will normally not be effective in treating toenail fungus. Part of the reason for this is that these types of treatment aren’t able to penetrate past the nail.
Instead then, you should take oral medication intended to treat fungal infections. These can be prescribed by your doctor. Treatment will normally last for around 2-3 months and is normally around 250mg a day.
Unfortunately the side effects of antifungal medication can be unpleasant and may cause diarrhea, rash, liver enzyme abnormalities, nausea lack of appetite, hunger and other problems. You shouldn’t use these treatments if you have existing liver or kidney issues. The common medications prescribed include Lamisil and Sporanox. Sporanox has many interactions with other medications, so again, consult your doctor first.
While over-the-counter topical medications aren’t generally effective, there is no reason not to use them in conjunction with oral medications. You can also again get prescription medication for topical application. Good choices include Ciclopirox and Jublia.
In some cases if the toenail fungus is very severe, or if your other treatments aren’t working, you may consider surgery to fix the problem. Here you have a partial or full removal of the toenail (called an avulsion). This will normally be performed under a general or local anesthetic and is a routine procedure. Fortunately, a total nail removal isn’t normally needed. By exposing some of the nail bed underneath however, topical medication can be applied directly to the affected area.
Some other forms of treatment that can also be effective include nail debridement which involves the removal of dead and infected tissue, this involves the use of urea ointment which can soften the nail over a period of seven to ten days ready for repair.
Laser treatment can also sometimes be used to eradicate fungus in the affected areas but it’s often expensive and required multiple visits.
Note that infection of the toenail can often come about as the result of ingrown toenails, Athlete’s foot and more. Make sure to look after your foot hygiene and to treat any open wounds quickly. The risk is also greater for those with diabetes, psoriasis or weakened immune systems. If you fall into any of those categories then be sure to take extra care!