Unsightly toenail fungus can be very frustrating. Toenail fungus is an infection on the feet that causes thick, yellow toenails and can spread to other parts of the body. It is the same type of infection as yeast infections or athlete’s foot and can be very contagious. Treatment for toenail fungus is best sought early rather than waiting.
Besides potentially causing embarrassment for the individual suffering from a fungal infection on the toenails, the condition, if left untreated, will continue to spread, potentially infecting other toenails and parts of the body.
How Do I Know If I Have Toenail Fungus?
Some of the common symptoms of toenail fungus include:
- thick, hard toenails that may be yellow, brown, white, or have other discolorations
- loose or detached toenails
- rank shoes or feet smelling similar to an old cheese
- curved, twisted, or broken toenails
If you find that you are experiencing some or most of these symptoms, it may be time to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. The foot specialists at Best Foot Doctor can help identify the severity of your foot fungal infection and work with you to design a treatment plan.
What Are My Options for Treatment?
There are three general categories for treating toenail fungus. They are:
- Topical creams, polishes, and ointments
- Oral medication
- Laser treatment
Topical Creams, Polishes, and Ointments
While commonly used, topical treatments for toenail fungus are very ineffective. They are around 10% effective at their best, but most podiatrists agree that even a 5% success rate is being generous. Additionally, topical creams and ointments must be applied constantly for months or years, with some treatment needed for even longer, possibly permanently.
For topical options to be effective, they require the toenail fungus to be caught early and be a very mild case. Most often, topical treatments are not the solution for a permanent cure.
While much more effective than topical treatments, oral medication for toenail fungus can be potentially dangerous. There are high risks of liver damage as well as interference with other prescription medications. Besides these risks, oral medications cannot be taken by everyone. Those with weakened immune systems or women who are pregnant, for instance, would be unable to take these prescriptions.
Laser Treatment for Toenail Fungus
By far, the most effective and safe procedure for toenail fungal infection is laser treatment. There are no side effects to this treatment, and a licensed podiatrist can perform the procedure on virtually everyone. There is no pain involved and no downtime. Individuals can have laser treatment done in as little as a few minutes and then return to normal activities without any changes.
How Does It Work?
Laser treatment kills fungal infections at the root by disrupting the cells that hold them together. After laser treatment, a patient’s fungal infection is entirely dead. While the toenail may not look any different, the infection has been eradicated. Patients should expect to wait at least 6-8 months or possibly 1-2 years for the toenail to grow back and completely return to normal.
Caring for your toenails after laser treatment is an essential part of the process of regrowth. Shoes should be treated with a gel recommended by your doctor so that the infection present does not spread to your feet again.
If you are facing toenail fungus, especially in advanced stages, and believe that laser treatment could help, we hope that you will reach out to Best Foot Doctor. We would be happy to schedule an appointment to take a look at your condition and offer solutions.