Fungal toenails

Fungal toenails

The thought of having fungal toenails causes people a lot of stress. It can look ugly, it can smell & the nail can be hard to cut. You often don’t want to go barefooted or wear sandals in case someone sees your toes. And for many it’s something that just get’s covered up by nail polish & they hope will eventually go away. Others are worried someone else will “catch it”.

Fungal nail infections are extremely common. The cause is as the name suggests a fungus – think of mushrooms (but that’s a different type of fungus). Fungus is also what causes tinea. It is contagious which means you may have “picked it up” from somewhere. It likes moist, dark environments such as around pools/spas or showers at caravan parks & hotels. It gets into the nail through a microscopic split in the nail & then grows. You may be lucky & it stays in one nail but can spread to all your toenails.

So should I treat it? Advice by some in the past has been it’s not serious so why bother treating it. It should be treated because it will generally spread, it will generally do considerable damage to your nail & you may pass it on to someone else.

How do I treat it? Google treatments for fungal nails & you will find dozens of “cures”. There is no 100% guaranteed cure for fungal nails but the 3 best treatment options are

1. Topical treatments – they require daily or weekly application of a liquid to the nail. Results vary considerably & are really dependent on the degree of infection in the nail. Experience has shown that if the fungal infection is superficial then they may work. If the infection has passed through the nail or is under the nail, success is limited.

2. Oral tablets – tablets can be effective but have potential side effects on the liver & gut

3. Laser – it is our prime way of treating fungal infections that have passed through the nail or is under the nail. A simple procedure carried out over 2 or more visits & painless. Very effective in the majority of cases.

No matter what the treatment you also need to treat your environment eg. wash socks in hot water & change daily, allow shoes to air regularly & wear thongs in the shower if travelling or around pools