Fungal nail infections or onychomycosis affect the toenails, changing their color and quality. The infections can be painful and can cause a foul smell on the toenails. If you have a fungal nail infection, a podiatrist can examine you and recommend the right foot pain treatment. Here are the causes, prevention, and treatment for fungal nail infections:
Dermatophytes, a group of fungi that flourish in a warm, dark, and moist environment, cause fungal nail infections. Damaged or cracked nails can also be entry points for dermatophytes, candida, and molds. You can be at risk of developing fungal nail infection if you have a weak immune system or expose yourself to wet places like swimming pools and saunas. Bad circulation, diabetes, and aging can also place you at risk of getting fungal nail infections.
Living with someone who has a fungal infection can also expose you to a foot fungus. If you wear shoes like boots or tennis shoes that make your feet sweaty and hot, fungi can infect your toenails easily. Seek immediate foot pain treatment when you experience difficulty walking or bleeding and swelling around the nails.
Preventing fungal nail infections entails lifestyle changes and good hygiene practices. Here are some practical measures:
Keep Nails Clean and Dry
Wash your feet with water and soap every day to control fungal infections. Dry your feet thoroughly, including the spaces between your toes, as moisture can encourage fungal growth. Moisturize sparingly to keep your feet hydrated and manage fungal growth.
Wear Breathable Shoes
Wear footwear made of breathable materials, such as leather or mesh, that prevent sweating, which contributes to fungal infection. These materials allow air circulation around your feet, which helps to keep them dry and reduces the chances of fungal growth.
Protect Your Nails
Trim your nails straight across and keep them at a moderate length to reduce the risk of injury. Avoid cutting the nails too short or too close to the skin as it contributes to trauma. Disinfect your nail clippers after each use to control fungal infection.
Wear Footwear in Public Areas
Wear flip-flops or sandals in swimming pools, locker rooms, and communal showers to avoid contracting fungal nail infections. Flip-flops or sandals also help keep your feet off wet floors, minimizing moisture exposure that fungi thrive in.
The right treatment for fungal nail infection varies depending on the severity of the issue. Here are some treatment options a podiatrist can suggest:
A qualified podiatrist can prescribe antifungal medications, such as fluconazole, terbinafine, griseofulvin, or itraconazole, to treat the infection. The treatment course ranges from a few weeks to several months to manage the fungal nail infections.
For severe fungal infections, a podiatrist can prescribe topical creams like ciclopirox or efinaconazole. Over-the-counter topicals, such as clotrimazole, miconazole, or terbinafine, can also be effective in treating moderate fungal nail infections.
A podiatrist can trim your nails to allow better penetration of topical antifungal treatments. Nail debridement entails trimming the affected toenail using specialized instruments. The expert examines the affected nail to assess the severity of the fungal infection and determine if nail debridement is necessary.
In severe cases or when other treatments don’t work, a podiatrist can remove your nail entirely to allow a healthy one to grow back in its place. Before the procedure, the affected nail and surrounding area get numbed with a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort.
Get Quality Foot Pain Treatment
Fungal nail infections can distort the toenail’s shape, cause pain, and spread to other nails when left untreated. If you have the infection, schedule a consultation with an experienced podiatrist for prompt treatment. The professional can diagnose the severity of the fungal infection and recommend personalized treatment.