Small things matter. Ask a new bride about the importance of that small band of gold she is wearing. Think about the pain the tiniest sliver can cause in your finger, or how important those small bees are for pollinating our food supply. When you see a small white spot on your toenail, don’t ignore it as unimportant. It could be a sign of fungal toenails—a persistent infection that could cause annoying and embarrassing problems for some time to come.
Tiny Fungi, Big Effects
A fungus can invade the smallest separation between your toenail and the nail bed and make itself at home. The conditions are ideal: dead tissue to feed on, warmth, and plenty of sweaty moisture. This is also why they do so well in public pool areas, showers, and saunas—which may be where you encountered them in the first place.
As the fungi feed on your nail tissue, they cause changes in the nail. It may start out with just a small white spot, but soon it spreads, and the debris the fungus leaves behind builds up under the nail, discoloring it. Eventually the nail can become thick, lose its luster or shine, and start to crumble at the edges. The nail may change shape or loosen from your toe, and if a bacterial infection sets in as well, you may have drainage and foul-smelling pus. Not a pretty picture!
Small Steps to Head off Fungal Toenails
The first line of defense is to not let the fungus take hold. Protect your feet in public places where fungi thrive by wearing flip-flops or shower shoes. Clean and dry your feet thoroughly each day, and use anti-fungal powder on them and in your shoes if you are prone to infection. Air your feet out when you can and wear breathable shoes and socks that draw moisture away from your skin.
Keep toenails trimmed properly, using only your own tools, and clean them with rubbing alcohol before and after each use. It is a good idea to avoid salon pedicures unless you are absolutely sure they practice safe disinfecting procedures. Always wash your hands thoroughly after contact with the infection and avoid sharing tools and towels with others.
Treating a Persistent Nail Infection
If your nails keep getting worse, it’s time to call in the experts. Set up a visit at Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates to have your problem evaluated. We will examine your nails and may take scrapings to observe under a microscope in order to identify the exact fungus that’s causing your problem.
Over-the-counter creams and sprays may help with a small infection in the early stages, but you may need stronger remedies. We can prescribe topical or oral medications and will monitor you during use to make sure they are not causing other problems.
You may want to consider laser nail therapy for your fungal toenails. This treatment uses concentrated laser beams aimed precisely to kill the fungus without damaging the surrounding tissue. It is a painless treatment for people who don’t want to risk the possible side effects of oral medications, and may be able to get rid of your toenail fungus. New clear nails should grow out in a few months.
Where to Go for Help
We want you to feel free to wear your favorite open-toed shoes and sandals without embarrassment. Contact Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates at one of our east Florida locations: Daytona Beach: (386) 274-3336; Port Orange: (386) 788-6333; Palm Coast: (386) 586-7373; Orange City: (386) 775-2281; Edgewater: (386) 957-4818.
Call today or request an appointment on our webpage. You can also send for our free book, No More Ugly Toenails. Our goal is your happy feet!