A fungal infection starts out small enough — usually a white or yellow spot appears on your toenail. All too soon, your entire nail is consumed by the fungus and your neighboring nails become infected, too. This leaves you with crumbling and unsightly toenails that you’re forced to hide. These types of infections are notoriously difficult to get rid of, but not impossible, especially if you get the right treatment.
At Neuhaus Foot and Ankle, our team of foot health experts knows all too well how difficult it is to fight toenail fungus once it takes hold. Yet, with the right medical care, as well as patience on your part, we can not only prevail in your current battle against toenail fungus, we can prevent it from recurring in the future.
A fungal infection in your toenails is typically caused by a tiny organism called dermatophyte fungus. This type of fungus thrives in warm, moist environments — think public swimming pools or locker rooms — where it can be easily transferred between people.
Once you pick up the infection, it can spread fairly quickly, largely because you keep your feet inside shoes, creating the perfect environment for fungal growth.
Making matters worse, your toenails are fairly thick and made up of many layers, which means the fungus can set up shop deep within these layers, making it more difficult to target. In moderate-to-severe cases, the fungus can even get into the matrix of your nail, which means any new toenail growth is already infected.
Rounding out the list of hurdles is the fact that your toes don’t benefit from great circulation, so your immune system is less likely to detect and fight off the foreign invaders.
What all of this amounts to is that many people think that a toe fungal infection is coming back when it never really went away in the first place.
One of the best ways to treat toenail fungus is to catch it early on, at which point topical antifungal treatments are still effective. You can do your part by keeping your toenails trimmed and filed down, with the goal of providing as little nail as possible for the infection to hold onto.
If your toenail fungus has already overtaken your nail(s), the problem is a little more difficult to treat.
In these cases, the best course of action is to remove the affected portions of the nail to pave the way for new, infection-free growth. It’s important to note that once a section of your nail has succumbed to the fungal infection, there’s nothing we can do to salvage it — our goal here is to prevent the infection from spreading to healthier areas of your nail.
This may even involve removing all of your nail, especially if it’s separated from your nail bed. The logic here is that rather than struggling to hold onto an infected nail, leaving you prone to recurring infections, it may be wiser to remove the nail in its entirety to ensure healthier new growth. We may also supply you with an oral antifungal medication to ensure that the new nail will grow out without the infection.
To avoid a recurrence of your toenail fungus moving forward, we urge you to wear flip flops in all public areas, such as showers and pools. As well, keep your feet as clean and dry as possible and swap out sweaty socks and shoes often.
If you’d like to learn more about gaining the upper hand on your toenail fungus, contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Gallatin, Waverly, Smyrna, Murfreesboro, or Lebanon, Tennessee.