What is Fungal Nail Infection?
Fungal nail infection is a very common nail condition that affects many people. Usually asymptomatic, they can deteriorate and become symptomatic causing pain due to the thick growth it produces in the nail bed. Damage to the nail occurs slowly and progressively and can be very difficult to treat. Over-the-counter treatments take a very long time and have limited success.
The cosmetic appearance of fungal nails is often a concern of our patients and our treatments take this into account.
How Did I Get Fungal Nails?
Fungal nail infections occur when microscopic fungi enter the nail usually through trauma or micro-trauma from footwear. These reproduce and spread through the nail. The fungi thrive between the toes and under the nail plate due to the dark, moist environment in socks and shoes.
If you are a previous sufferer of athlete’s foot, shoes can retain the spores which go on to cause a fungal nail infection so it would be advisable to treat any athlete’s foot infection (including the shoes) to prevent further exposure.
What Treatment Options Do I Have?
● Nail reduction – filing nail to clear debris and cleaning nail matrix to allow improved growth of nail with no fungicidal treatment.
● Topical treatment – application of fungal nail treatment on regular basis after reduction of nails.
● Nail fenestration – small holes drilled through nail plate using a very fine cutting tool painlessly and then application of fungicidal treatment.
● Total nail avulsion – removal of the nail and cleaning of nail bed under local anaesthetic.
How Successful Is Fungal Nail Treatment?
From laser to fungal nail paints and oral tablets, there is no 100% guarantee that the fungus can be eradicated and permanently cured ( although in some cases it can). The majority of treatments rely on management and provoking the nail to grow healthier and more aesthetically normal.
Can we test for fungal nail infection?
At our clinics, we have fungal test kits that allow us to identify if there is fungal infection present in the nail or not. We can also send the sample to a lab where they can identify what specific fungus is causing the damage and produce a treatment plan most effective to that fungus.
How can we help improve the nail quality?
At Acorn Sports Podiatry the podiatrist will discuss all the treatment options available. The podiatrist will listen to your complaint and devise the most effective treatment plan and best form of management for you. If caught early enough then management can be a lot easier (possibly curing) and simpler than if left untreated preventing pain and unsightliness.
What Happens If I Leave It And Do Nothing?
If left untreated the nail will keep deteriorating over time and the infection can eventually spread to other toenails as well as fingernails. This can lead to secondary infections such as athlete’s foot and, in a worst-case scenario, fungal/bacterial skin infection. Furthermore, it can lead to fungal skin infections elsewhere on the body.