Naturally, fungi and bacteria are all around us. When a fungus begins to overgrow, however, an infection can occur. Fungal infections can affect any part of the body, from the skin to the eyes.
Onychomycosis, or tinea unguium, is a fungal infection that affects the nails. Fungal nail infections occur over a long period of time, so any abrupt change in nail integrity may be too subtle to notice at first.
There are various causes of onychomycosis. Although many of the causes are preventable, some risk factors expedite the possibility of developing it. These risk factors include being diabetic, family history, advancing age, have a disease that affects blood vessels, living in a warm climate, swimming in a public swimming pool, compromised immune system, wearing closed-toe shoes thereby blocking airflow, having a nail injury, and poor podiatric hygiene.
A fungal infection of the nail may affect part of the nail, the entire nail, or several nails.
Onychomycosis can be identified by appearance. Visible fungal nail infection signs include scaling under the nail, white or yellow streak on the nail, crumbling corner or tip of the nail, flaking white areas on the nail’s surface, yellow spots at the bottom of the nail, or loss of the nail. Common signs of onychomycosis include a distorted nail, an odor coming from the infected nail, and/or a brittle or thickened nail. If you suspect you might have a fungal nail infection, see your podiatrist to have the infected nail tested. If the tests do come back positive, proper treatment will ensue. By following the basic FootCare guidelines, you more than likely can head off most common foot fungus problems.
Your podiatrist may prescribe an oral antifungal medication. Treatment may not rid your body of the fungal infection completely. In almost half of cases, the fungal nail infection will return. However, it is important to take your medicine as directed, as this is currently the best way to treat toenail fungus. Your podiatrist will also debride your thickened or brittle toenails on a regular basis to ensure your fungal infection is under control and your overall foot health is maintained.
Prevent the fungus from returning by practicing good podiatric hygiene. Wash your feet regularly with a mild soap, taking care to scrub between toes, and dry them completely once you have rinsed off all the soap.
For more information about treating fungal foot infections, be sure to schedule an appointment to further seek professional care from one of our doctors at FootCare Associates in Hackettstown, New Jersey.