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What are fungal toe infections

Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a dermatophyte fungus, however, yeasts and moulds can also be responsible.

Fungi are microscopic organisms that don’t need sunlight to survive.

Fungi:

  • Live in warm, moist environments, including swimming pools and showers
  • Can invade your skin through cuts so tiny you can’t even see them or through a small separation between your nail and nail bed
  • Can cause problems if your nails are often exposed to warm and moist conditions

Although Nail fungus can occur at both finger and toe nails, because the blood supply to toenails is less the immune system has a harder time to detect and fight the infection.

The appearance of a fungally infected nail begins with a white or yellow spot at the tip or nail edge. As it develops the whole nail can become infected.

It is usual to observe just 1 nail that is affected but sometimes all toe nails can become infected.

Nail fungus is difficult and stubborn to treat.  Therefore if any change is noted preferable early treatment is indicated.

Symptoms of this condition

  • Your nails may become thickened
  • Brittle, crumbly or ragged
  • Distorted in shape

  • Dull, with no shine

  • A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail

  • You may feel pain in your toes or fingertips and detect a slightly foul odor

Treatments we provide for fungal toe infections

  • Medicated nail polish. Your doctor may prescribe an anti fungal nail polish called ciclopirox (Penlac) or cura nail.

    This is a long treatment process where painting on the lacquer and surrounding skin needs to be carried out either once a day or once a week depending on lacquer.

    You may need to use this type of nail polish daily for a year.

  • Medicated nail cream. Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream, which you rub into your infected nails after soaking.

    These creams may work better if you first thin the nails. This helps the medication get through the hard nail surface to the underlying fungus.

    To keep the nails reduced in width a good urea based cream and filing nails will assist.

  • Nail removal. If your nail infection is severe or extremely painful, it maybe suggested that completely removing the nail is an option.

    A new nail will usually grow in its place. But it will come in slowly and may take as long as a year to grow back completely.

    In up to 50% of cases the nail can grow back non-infected. Sometimes surgery in combination with ciclopirox can be used to treat the nail bed.

  • Although oral antifungal drugs can be prescribed (if nothing else has worked) at Paola Ash Associates we do not recommend this treatment as these drugs are very strong and can adversely affect other organs in the body.

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