Fungal nail infections are common — they affect about 14% of the population in the United States. This minor medical issue can be unbelievably stubborn, engaging you in a seemingly never-ending battle to reclaim your toenails.
If you’re battling toenail fungus, there are a few points that our team of podiatry experts at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle wants to make, starting with the fact that it’s not your imagination — the fungus is one formidable foe.
How the infection starts
Most fungal nail infections stem from a mold called tinea unguium, which feasts on keratin — a protein that makes up most of the structure of your hair and nails.
This fungus typically accesses your toenail through a fissure or opening. Once it gets in, it eats away at your toenail. At first, you might see a small white or yellow spot on your toenail. All too soon, this small spot slowly takes over your nail. As the infection progresses, your nail can:
- Crumble and crack
- Separate from your nail bed
This fungus can also spread to other toenails, which is why gaining the upper hand on a fungal nail infection is so important.
Why is toenail fungus so stubborn?
Once the toenail fungus gets embedded, it isn't easy to eliminate. Using the term " embedded " is no exaggeration, as the fungus can become part of your cell matrix. In fact, the fungus often lives in the layer just beneath your toenail — your nail bed — which makes the infection challenging to access from the outside.
That explains why over-the-counter brush-on solutions aren’t effective. These products can help protect new nail growth but are mostly ineffective at treating an existing infection.
In cases of stubborn toenail fungus, we often turn to oral antifungal medications to treat the problem from the inside out. We can also remove your toenail entirely and treat the layer beneath to encourage healthier new toenail growth.
The key to successfully tackling toenail fungus is patience. Oral antifungal medications can take months, and toenails grow very slowly. In fact, new toenails can take anywhere from 12-18 months to come in, which is much slower than fingernails.
Given how long it can take to declare victory in the battle against fungal infections, we urge you not to delay seeking the proper treatment for your toenails.
For experienced and expert help with stubborn toenail fungus, please contact one of our 13 locations in Tennessee to schedule an appointment.