If you’ve noticed your nails are becoming thickened or yellowed, you’ll want to resist the temptation to cover it up with nail polish because yellow, crumbly, or thickened nails are signs of a toenail fungus.
Often, a fungal infection that’s minor can be remedied with over-the-counter medications; however, toenail fungus can be tough to get rid of completely. If you start to see symptoms of a toenail fungus, don’t wait to seek medical help since delaying treatment can increase your risk of re-infection and complications like nail loss.
Francine Rhinehart, DPM, and the rest of our team explain what causes toenail fungus and how we can help to treat it.
Causes of toenail fungus
Fungal nail infections are caused by fungi, a living organism, and it’s the same fungus that also causes athlete’s foot and ringworm. Nail fungus – also called onychomycosis – can develop by entering into the nail bed through cracks. If you already have dry, brittle nails, the resulting cracks will give fungus and other germs a way in.
Because the same thing causes athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, it’s common to see signs of them both simultaneously. An athlete’s foot breakout can often cause toenail fungus. Fungal infections spread easily, which is why it’s so vital to seek medical attention for them.
Risk factors for fungal infections
Since fungus can enter through cracks in your nails, having dry or cracked nails will greatly increase your risk of developing an infection.
Other risk factors for developing toenail fungus include:
- Sweating heavily
- Having a history of athlete’s foot
- Being older, especially if you have poor blood flow or dry and slow-growing nails
- Walking barefoot in public shower areas
- Having a minor nail injury
- Having diabetes
- Having a weakened immune system
You can prevent getting toenail fungus by always keeping your feet clean and dry. You can do this by changing out of sweaty socks immediately, wearing shower shoes if using public showers, and inspecting your feet daily for any signs of infection or injury.
When to seek treatment
Fungus infections will require some treatment to get rid of them for good. It can feel uncomfortable talking about a fungal infection but rest assured, these infections are common. Dr. Rhinehart encourages you to seek podiatric care if at-home treatments haven’t been shown to help improve the infection or if your nail becomes thickened, brittle, discolored, or misshapen.
If you have diabetes, don’t try to treat the fungal infection at home, but instead, seek immediate podiatric care. Having diabetes increases your risk of complications from any foot-related condition.
Because toenail fungus is so tough to eliminate, Dr. Rhinehart uses laser technology rather than creams, medications, or surgery. The Q-Clear fungal nail treatment can give you beautiful, clear nails in one short session that only lasts 10-15 minutes.
If you need treatment for toenail fungus or have more questions about our treatment methods, call our office in Dallas, Texas, at 469-754-8960 or use our online scheduler to request an appointment with us today.