Our patients come to our Austin podiatrist office for treatment of conditions that are causing many different issues. Pain and impaired function are certainly common reasons for someone to seek medical care from our foot experts, but another important one is to have an infection treated.
One of the more common infections we see are cases of fungal toenails. This may seem like a fairly superficial issue, but toenail fungus can detract from a patient’s quality of life by causing embarrassment and self-consciousness. For our diabetic patients, any form of infection can become a major problem. It is our goal to take these concerns away by providing the care you need for this common fungal infection.
Nail Fungus Symptoms and Causes
Recognizing that you have a case of onychomycosis is the first step in being able to receive the treatment you need. The most obvious symptom is the discoloration of your nail tissues, but others include toenails that are:
- Thickened and/or distorted in shape
- Ragged, brittle, or crumbly
- Dull in appearance, lacking the shine of healthy nail tissue
- Darkened in color, which is often attributed to debris build-up under the nail
- Separated from the nailbed
- Emitting a funky odor
These nail infections are usually the result of a dermatophyte fungus, which is a microscopic organism. Since the fungus does not require sunlight to live, it can thrive in environments that are warm, damp, and dark (which can accurately describe feet covered in socks and shoes).
The fungus is frequently found in warm, moist places like showers, gym locker rooms, and swimming pool decks. These dermatophytes can enter tiny cuts or even a small separation between the nailbed and corresponding nail.
Complications from Fungal Toenails
If you live with diabetes, you should already be aware of the importance of diabetic foot care. One component of this is a daily foot inspection for anything unusual, including infections. It is worth mentioning that diabetic individuals are at greater risk of infections on account of reduced blood circulation and impaired nerve function. If you suspect that you have developed a fungal infection, come see us at your earliest opportunity.
Treating Fungal Nails
You have essentially three options to treat this condition:
- Oral medication – As we look at the two different medicinal approaches, oral medication is simply more effective at handling the infection underneath the nail.
- Topical medication – Oral medications, while more effective, can come with undesired side effects; this is not usually the case with topical medicine.
- Laser treatment – Not only is this the newest method for clearing up fungal infections, it is also the most effective. Our laser treatment is FDA-approved and performed in our office. After the session is over, in roughly half an hour, you can walk out the front door and carry on with your normal activities.
While it will take some time for the fungal infection to be eradicated – and longer for the damaged portion of nail to grow out – you may opt for an immediate cosmetic improvement with Keryflex. This is an artificial resin nail surface that restores a natural look to your nail while you undergo treatment, and eventually grows out with new nail. Before and after images are below.
Fungal Toenail Prevention
We are certainly able to provide the treatment you need when a case of toenail fungus develops, but our patients typically prefer to avoid the condition altogether. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk and, even better, they are not particularly difficult or complicated. These include:
- Keep your feet dry.
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water.
- Keep your nails properly trimmed.
- Wear socks that wick away moisture.
- Choose footwear that allows your feet to breathe.
- Wear shower shoes or sandals in locker rooms, public showering areas, and on pool decks.
- Be careful when visiting nail salons.
- Use antifungal powder or spray in your shoes.
Professional Treatment for Fungal Toenails in Austin, TX
This common fungal infection is unsightly, embarrassing, and can even pose a risk to those who live with diabetes, but you can have it treated by our experts at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists. We provide exceptional podiatric services for our patients from the Round Rock, San Marcos, and greater Austin, TX communities. Discover for yourself how we consistently redefine podiatric excellence by contacting us today. Call our Austin foot doctor office at (512) 328-8900 or schedule your appointment with us online.