While toenail fungus is not generally a major medical concern, if it’s left untreated, it can certainly become so severe that your toenails eventually pull away and fall off. Before your fungal nails worsen, get started on treatment with board-certified podiatrist Jade Gittens, DPM, of Premier Foot & Ankle Center. Dr. Gittens offers the latest fungal nail treatments right in her Somerset, New Jersey, clinic.
Early indicators of toenail fungus (onychomycosis) aren’t always obvious. This type of infection affects your nail bed underneath your nail, so it can take some time for the infection to start showing through your nails.
Initially, you may have only a small dot or minor yellow discoloration. As that fungal infection worsens, though, you may notice:
In severe cases, nail fungus can be accompanied by secondary bacterial or yeast infections. If left untreated, these infections can make walking and standing difficult, which could potentially throw off your gait and lead to chronic pain.
Toenail fungus is caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. These fungi live on keratin, the protein found in your nails. They thrive in moist, dark environments and are incredibly contagious. You can develop fungal nails due to:
Not everyone who comes into contact with dermatophytes develops toenail fungus — sometimes your immune system fights off the invaders. You’re more likely to develop toenail fungus if your immune system is weakened, possibly due to diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions.
During your toenail fungus appointment, Dr. Gittens takes a specimen of your nail to determine what’s causing your nail discoloration — it’s not always fungus. Once she understands what’s going on, she can treat your condition.
Dr. Gittens treats the underlying toenail fungal infection by prescribing oral antifungal medications, or by applying topical antifungal creams — sometimes both. Because toenail fungus can easily spread to surrounding nails and even your fingernails, it’s important to wear gloves and wash your hands anytime you apply your topical solutions at home.
If your toenail fungus isn’t improving, it might be time for toenail surgery. This procedure — known as a debridement and performed right in the office — involves removing the affected nail. Debridement allows Dr. Gittens to treat the underlying fungal infection directly, so a healthy new nail can grow back in.
Get started on toenail fungus treatment right away by booking an evaluation at Premier Foot & Ankle Center. Either click on the online scheduling feature or call the office.