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.