Does Nail Fungus Require a Doctor’s Care?
Nail fungus is a relatively common problem that may occur at any age. According to studies, older adults have a higher risk of developing nail fungus due to the natural brittleness of the nails that accompanies aging. While the initial symptoms of nail fungus may not seem concerning, a fungal condition that is not resolved with home remedies should be treated by a doctor to prevent permanent damage to the nail and nail bed.
What does nail fungus look like?
Initially, nail fungus may look like a yellow-brown or white discoloration on one or more fingernails or toenails (usually the toenails). As fungal infection settles in, the nail may grow thicker and may become distorted. The edges of the nail may become ragged or crumbly due to brittleness.
What You Can Do At Home
Nail fungus may be treated at home as soon as symptoms are noticed. It is essential to treat the nail consistently, following directions on the packaging label of an over-the-counter antifungal ointment or cream. Before applying antifungal, it is beneficial to trim and thin the affected nail using a nail file. After treating the nail, wash your hands.
When do you need to see a doctor?
If symptoms do not improve after several weeks of consistent home care, you may need to see a dermatologist for a thorough examination. Sometimes, symptoms that resemble nail fungus are actually something else, such as psoriasis. When you visit your doctor, an accurate diagnosis can be reached by analyzing nail clippings or debris from under the nail. Once we know the type of fungal infection that has developed, we can prescribe appropriate treatment.
Nail fungus is a difficult condition to treat, even with prescription antifungal therapy. Usually, oral antifungal medication is prescribed to treat infection. An oral medication works more quickly than topical antifungals but may still take several weeks or months to eliminate contamination.
Medicated nail polish or cream may also be prescribed to treat fungus on the nail and surrounding skin topically. When treated topically, nail fungus may gradually diminish over the course of up to a year. Daily use is necessary.
In extreme cases where the nail has been severely damaged, and medications are not correcting the problem, the nail may need to be removed with a minor surgical procedure.
We are happy to provide friendly care to patients in our Kennett Square, Exton, and Coatesville offices. To schedule your visit, call 610-594-6660.
What You Need to Know about Nail Fungus
Nail fungus can be a particularly difficult challenge. One of the primary concerns about an infection of the nail is that most of us never think about the potential we may have to develop such a condition. Infection of the toenail can lead to discoloration, thickening, and even breakage or deformation, so this is a problem that needs to be solved as quickly as possible. For this to happen, you need to know a few things about fungal infections of the nail.
You may have a greater risk than others.
Not everyone has the same susceptibility to nail infections, just like we all have our level of risk for common health conditions such as heart disease. Some people may be more vulnerable when it comes to fungus affecting the nails due to:
- Older age
- Circulatory disorders
- Low immunity
- Excessive sweating (of the feet)
The risk may also increase under certain circumstances, such as:
- Poor foot hygiene
- Regular manicures or pedicures
- Wearing closed-toed shoes more often than not
- Damp work areas
- Use of public pools, gyms, or showers
With a little effort, you can catch early warning signs of fungal infection.
The earlier that a nail infection is caught and treated, the more successful that treatment will be. It is important to remove nail polish every so often to fully observe the nail bed on fingernails and toenails. Indications of early infection include slight yellow or white spots at the nail tip. As the infection progresses without treatment, symptoms such as nail brittleness, lifting, dulling, thickening, and yellow or white streaking may occur.
It’s more beneficial to see a dermatologist for potential nail infection and discover there is none than to postpone examination while infection festers.
It’s possible to prevent nail infection.
Because nail infection can take some time to resolve, prevention is a much better approach to hand and foot care. Due to the environment in which fungus thrive, toenail infections are much more common than infection of the fingernails. It is important to:
- Wash feet and clip nails regularly (fingernails, also!). Consider using a nail brush to remove debris and microorganisms from the cuticle line and under the nails.
- Do not share hygiene instruments like clippers and nail brushes.
- When using public showers or pools, wear water shoes.
- Wear flip-flops or slippers in the gym locker room.
- Choose nail salons carefully (look for licensure). Take your nail trimmers and files for use in your nail salon.
Call 610-594-6660 for more information on the diagnosis and treatment of nail disorders.