Nail fungus is unsightly and painful, and it can be very difficult to treat, especially without a doctor's intervention. As a leading podiatrist in Arcadia, CA, Dr. Wenjay Sung, DPM, offers state-of-the-art solutions for the treatment of nail fungus, helping patients eliminate the fungus and restore the healthy nail
Nail fungus occurs when fungal bodies called dermatophytes enter the skin around and under the toenail, usually through a very small opening like a tiny cut or scrape. The nail acts as a tough barrier that makes treating the fungus with topical agents very difficult. What's more, the warm, moist environment of most shoes makes an ideal environment for fungal growth, allowing the infection to spread. A limited blood supply to the nail bed makes it difficult for the body's natural immune agents to fight off the infection. The fungus that causes nail infections prefers damp environments like gym locker rooms, public showers, and public pools and hot tubes, and going barefoot in these areas can increase the chances of becoming infected. People who have a family history of fungal nail infections have a higher risk of developing the infections themselves, as do people with circulation problems or weak immune systems.
The first sign of a toenail infection usually is a very small white or yellow spot that forms underneath the nail. Without treatment, the spot will spread to encompass the entire nail bed and the nail will become thicker, brittle and ragged. As the infection progresses, the nail bed will become sore, especially when wearing shoes or applying pressure to the toe.
Because nail infections can be difficult to treat, it's important to see a podiatrist to have professional care as early as possible. Some nail infections may be treated with prescription-strength topical medications designed to penetrate the nail bed, especially if damaged nail tissue is first removed. Sometimes, a large portion of the nail or the entire nail will need to be removed in order to enable the medicine to penetrate. Other infections can be treated with oral anti-fungal medicines. Depending on the extent of the infection, eradication of the fungus can take several months. Cutting nails straight across and avoiding going barefoot in areas where the fungus is likely to grow can also help.