Put the Brakes on Fungal Toenails
Fungal toenails are fairly common, but still can be a source of self-consciousness and embarrassment for many individuals. Learn more about this condition and what The Kansas Foot Center can do to stop it in its tracks. Even better, find out the steps you can take to prevent it from happening in the first place!
Fungal Toenail Symptoms
The primary symptoms of this nail condition are a matter of appearance. You can tell that you have this condition—also known as onychomycosis—when your nails are brittle, crumbly, thickened, discolored and dull. The lack of shine and dark color from debris that builds up under a nail are indications of an infection, but also be aware of separation from the nailbed, pain, or even a foul odor.
Causes of Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus can be caused by yeasts, molds, and fungi known as dermatophytes. These are microscopic organisms that can thrive in the dark and do not need sunlight to survive. They are typically found in warm, damp environments and invade the skin through tiny cuts and abrasions. The fungus attaches itself to unprotected feet and will stick around if the conditions are right. Given that your feet are already warm, and the fungus is fine living in a dark sock and shoe, the only thing still needed is moisture—and sweaty feet provide that in abundance.
Preventing a Fungal Infection
Fungal nails can be treated, but the best course of action is to try to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are habits and tips that help keep your toenails fungal-free:
- Wash your feet every day. Use mild soap and warm water to clean off any potential contaminants. Afterwards, dry them thoroughly, including the areas between your toes where fungus and bacteria can start to grow.
- Choose moisture-wicking socks. Certain fabrics are better at wicking away moisture than others. A key component to preventing fungal toenails is to keep your feet dry, so pick up socks that are made from materials like wool, polypropylene, and nylon.
- Change damp socks. If you are working out or suffer from hyperhidrosis (a condition marked by excessive sweating), be sure to have a dry set of socks to change into once your others are damp.
- Wear shoes that are constructed from breathable materials. You can buy closed shoes of materials that still allow your feet to breathe, but wear open-toed footwear or sandals when possible, too. As long as you do not live with diabetes, you can go barefoot at home to further decrease the risk of a fungal infection.
- Protect your feet in public. Common sources of the fungi that lead to infection include pool decks, locker rooms, and shower areas. When visiting any such places, wear shower shoes or sandals to protect your feet. Also, make sure you are wearing your own and not borrowing someone else’s.
- Alternate shoes. Have two pairs of shoes that you can wear on alternating days. This will allow each pair 24 hours to thoroughly dry out between uses.
There are over-the-counter products that might help with treating toenail fungus. Often, these are more effective for mild cases. If you have tried these treatments without having success, you need professional help. Techniques we might employ include prescription medications (either oral or topical), nail removal, or laser therapy.
Laser therapy is a highly-effective, safe procedure that is FDA-approved for treating fungal nails. Our process uses focused wavelengths of light (the lasers) to specifically target the offensive fungus. After treatment, you simply walk out the front door and continue with your normal activities – no down time!
Professional Care for Fungal Toenails in Wichita, KS
Make The Kansas Foot Center your first choice for treating your fungal nail infection. We have state-of-the-art treatment methods and knowledgeable foot specialists who will ensure you receive the effective foot care you need. Contact us for more information by calling (866) 222-5177 or schedule an appointment at either of our Kansas offices—Newton or Wichita—online today.