With summer right around the corner comes the season of sandals, beaches, and therefore exposed toes. Toenail fungus often discourages many from wanting to expose their toes by causing a series of changes to the nails. Toenail fungus is a very common condition referred to as onychomycosis. Onychomycosis may start out as just a small area of yellow or white discoloration of the nail. As the fungus spreads the discoloration may spread and worsen and the nail may thicken. There may also seem to be an accumulation of material under the nail and possibly an odor. he condition may eventually become painful as well.
There are a variety of risk factors for developing onychomycosis. First of all, fungi best survive in dark and damp areas. With that said, public places such as pools and showers are very common places for fungi to grow and be transmitted. As well personal footwear can influence the development of onychomycosis. Wearing shoes and socks and perspiring or having wet feet can also encourage development. Trauma also leaves the nail susceptible to invasion by fungi. Onychomycosis is often also seen in aging populations often due to decreased blood supply.
To diagnose onychomycosis your physician will first evaluate the toes clinically. A sample may be taken to undergo laboratory testing such as a potassium hydroxide smear or a periodic acid-schiff stain. Once the diagnosis is confirmed treatment will begin. It often takes months to make sure the fungus is completely eradicated. Atlantic Foot and Ankle Associates offer several options for the treatment of onychomycosis. Medications for toenail fungus can be topical or oral. One of the most common methods of treatment is the oral medication terbinafine (Lamisil). This medication has to be taken for approximately 90 days. We also offer a topical treatment called Formula 3, which is available at all four of our offices located in Palm Coast, Daytona Beach, Port Orange, and Orange City, Florida. There is also a new, FDA approved treatment for onychomycosis called laser therapy. Please visit the Florida Laser Center website to learn more about laser therapy, which is now available in our Daytona Beach location.
Onychomycosis can be prevented by taking actions such as keeping feet dry or allowing ventilation when wet as well avoiding being barefoot in areas where fungi are likely to grow. If you are one of the 30 million Americans suffering with toenail fungus, please do not hesitate to get treatment so you can get back to the beach and show off your beautiful toes!