The thought of fungus growing on your body might make your skin crawl, but fungal toenails is actually a fairly common condition we treat often. When the infection takes place in the toenail itself, it is known as onychomycosis. This is different than a fungal infection of the skin of the foot known as athlete’s foot or tinea pedis. You can recognize toenail fungus by the discoloration, thickness, and crumbling of your nails.
A fungus is a microorganism that thrives in warm, moist places. When covered with socks and shoes, your feet can create such an environment. Fungal infections are more prevalent in warm weather when feet tend to sweat more. A fungal infection can occur anywhere on your body and becomes more common with age. The good news about toenail fungus is that it is treatable and you can take preventative measures to reduce the risk of it happening in the first place.
Where Does It Come From?
Fungi are microbial organisms that do not require sunlight to survive. They often live in moist, warm environments and can easily be picked up in public pools, gyms, locker rooms and other damp areas. This fungal infection can be spread from person to person, especially among family members. Nail fungus can often begin as athlete’s foot. The infection can spread through a tiny crack in the nail or begin under the nail fold and spread from there. An infection can also spread from one toe to another or to other parts of the body.
Whereas it can happen to anyone, there are a variety of risk factors that make it more likely for someone to contract fungal toenails. These include:
- Failing to dry feet thoroughly, including between toes.
- Living with family members or roommates who have nail fungus.
- Having a skin condition (like psoriasis) or a minor nail or skin injury.
- Spending time barefoot in public swimming pools, gym locker rooms, and showering areas.
- Wearing socks or shoes that do not provide optimal ventilation or absorb perspiration.
- Working in moist or humid environments where your shoes and socks may become damp or wet.
- Living with diabetes, or a weakened immune system.
- Having abnormal pH levels of your skin.
Fungal Toenail Prevention and Treatment
Toenail fungus is certainly treatable, but it is always better to head off a condition early instead of having to deal with it later. With this in mind, there are steps that you can take to help prevent it. Avoid going barefoot in gym locker rooms, shower areas, and public pools by wearing shower shoes or sandals. Change your socks during the day if your feet sweat a lot. Do not share socks, shoes, and towels, especially with a friend or family member who has a fungal infection. Wash your feet thoroughly every day and dry them anytime they get wet.
If preventative measures haven’t been enough, or you already developed a fungal infection before learning how to prevent it, then it is time to come into our office for treatment. Home treatment is not recommended for this condition because over-the-counter medications are not particularly effective and will only waste your time and money. Your best move is to enlist the help of the professionals at South Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic and receive the effective treatment you need. We are equipped to eradicate the fungus and restore your nails to their natural, healthy condition with the use of laser therapy.
Our laser is virtually painless, highly effective, and only takes 30 minutes per session. The process may take up to three or four sessions for optimal effectiveness, but your toe will begin growing a clear, healthy nail following your first session. There are other treatment methods we can explore if this does not sound like something you would like to pursue.
Professional Fungal Toenail Treatment in Spokane, WA
Now that you know what to look for, be sure to contact South Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic as soon as you recognize the signs of toenail fungus. The condition is most easily treated in its early stages, and we don’t want you to suffer the embarrassment of unsightly, discolored nails. Give our Spokane, WA foot doctor office a call at (509) 747-0274 for more information or to schedule an appointment with us.