Toenail Fungus

What is toenail fungus?

Nail fungus is caused by a highly contagious microorganism that causes nails to become thick, chipped, discolored and brittle. There are many types of fungi that can affect the nails as well as the skin. Fungi are naturally present in our environment. What is fungus? Fungus is a primitive almost plant like microorganism. The type of fungi that most often affects human feet are dermatophytes. When they affect the skin of the foot it’s called athlete’s foot or tinea pedis. When fungi effect the nails – it is called onychomycosis or tinea unguium. Toenail fungus is much more common than finger nail fungus. Different authors state that in Western countries about 10% or maybe even 20% of adults may have toenail fungus. Our Toenails may become more susceptible to the fungal infection for a variety of reasons: continuous micro trauma to the nail, tightly fitting shoes, compromised Immune system, untreated athlete’s foot etc.

The most common type of toenail fungal infection is called distal subungual onychomycosis. This process starts on the skin, usually at the end of the toes and then progresses to the end of the nail. Eventually gets under the nail and turns the nail white or yellow. Pieces of skin and nail fragments can become brittle and become thick.

Onychomycosis can be very difficult to treat and in some instances may become a lifelong infection. In some cases the nails may become very thick and press on the underlying skin especially if the shoes fit tightly.

The type of fungal nail infection that is a less common is called white superficial onychomycosis. This type only affect the superficial plate of the nail and can look chalky or powdery. The treatment of superficial onychomycosis is usually a lot less complicated.

There is no immunity against toenail fungus or skin fungus. Therefore, even after complete eradication of a fungal infection, a person can be re-infected any number of times.

How Is Toenail Fungus Treated?

Treatment options:
Topical.
Systemic.
Routine Nailcare.
LASER.
And combination of all of the above.

Athlete’s foot is most commonly treated with topical creams. Toenail fungus is much more difficult to treat than athlete’s foot. Through the years there was a number of treatments suggested. As a rule topical creams are better suited to treat the skin infection, athlete’s foot, because they don’t penetrate the nail plate very well. Topical liquid medications specifically designed to treat the nails where developed: Penlac, Jublia, Formula 3, these are most recent prescription ones. Although, they also demonstrate some limitations. Also a wide variety of non prescription topical nail fungus medications are available at almost any pharmacy.

Systemic drugs, anti-fungal pills, may be associated with some side effects. One must consult a physician before taking any medications.

Routine regular footcare at your chiropodist office helps keep toenail fungus at bay and toenails looking better.

LASER is latest viable and popular alternative. LASER is an acronym. It stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

There are many types of lasers constructed for three treatment of onychomycosis. Most of them emit near infrared wavelegth of 1320 nm or 1064 nm. It seems like the Nd: YAG 1064 nm was more popular. Most prefered pulsed mode. Most popular ones are Pinpointe by Patholase, Genesis by Cutera, ClearSteps by Fotona. Q-switched Nd: YAG 1064 nm technology was by Alma lasers and others. Other lasers like Noveon and Erchonia (635 nm and 405 nm) utilize low level dual and shorter wavelengths generated by diods. There is no pain or heat associated with use of these lasers.