If you hesitate to wear open-toed sandals because you are self-conscious of your cracked toenails, you might have nail fungus. If you don’t like getting your fingernails done because you’re embarrassed by their discoloration, you could have an infection of your nail. Either way, you’re not alone; many men and women deal with fingernail and toenail infection.
There could be a variety of causes for your nail infection, but the best way to get a diagnosis for a nail fungal infection is to contact the experienced, board-certified dermatologists on staff at West Dermatology in Arizona, Nevada, or California. We have the expertise, treatment options, and preventative measures to help take care of your nail fungus. With locations in major cities throughout the southwestern United States, including Hillcrest, Yuma, Las Vegas, and others, West Dermatology provides caring and expert treatment in a neighborhood near you. Schedule a consultation to start receiving advanced nail fungus treatment.
What Is Nail Fungus?
Roughly 10% of all Americans are affected by onychomycosis or tinea unguium, the medical terms for a nail fungal infection. Both your fingernails and toenails are susceptible to this condition, and you’re more likely to get it as you age.
Nail Fungus Symptoms
The symptoms of a nail infection include the following:
- Thickened nail
- Brittle or crumbly (despite the thickening)
- Ragged, distorted appearance
- Yellowish streaks on the nail
- Dark discoloration
- Nail separation from the nail bed
- Nail pain or soreness
- A foul odor
Based on the above, if you or your physician suspects a nail infection, a nail scrape test is commonly used for diagnosis and very quick results. This takes debris from under your nail and then analyzes it using potassium hydroxide (KOH).
Another test, a fungal culture is also often used, but it is more extensive and time-consuming, as you won’t know any results for at least several weeks.
Nail Fungus Causes
While several different fungi can be responsible, a group of fungi called dermatophytes is the most common. Usually, these pathogens enter your skin via minute openings or between your nail and its nail bed, proliferating if the environment is warm and moist.
Another contributor is genetics, for a family history of nail infections increases your risks. If you’re a man, you’re more susceptible, as well.
Your risk also increases if you sweat a lot. If you work out or exercise daily, or work in warm, humid surroundings, then you’re at greater risk. If you often walk barefoot in public places, you’re increasing your chances of infection. Any public swimming pool, health club, shower room, sauna, etc., where you go barefoot instead of wearing some type of footwear, such as sandals, will dramatically increase your exposure to a fungus.
Finally, your health or clothing can be responsible. Diabetes, poor blood circulation, or not wearing socks that give your feet proper ventilation are also common triggers.
Nail Fungal Treatment
Before undergoing nail fungus treatment, make sure that you’re diagnosed by a skincare specialist because nail infection symptoms are similar to symptoms of other conditions – psoriasis, contact dermatitis (eczema), trauma, and yellow nail syndrome, among others.
Nail fungus treatment is often costly or ineffective, especially over-the-counter ones. Oral antifungal medications are known to be effective because they help replace an infected nail with a healthy one, but this can take up to four months to fully take place. These oral medicines include Fluconazole (Diflucan) and Itraconazole (Sporanox). Topical nail fungal treatment can clear up a nail infection but rarely completely cures it. One such application is an antifungal lacquer called ciclopirox (Penlac).
Laser nail fungal treatment is another option and may be effective. In addition to destroying the fungus, especially to a depth and breadth that other methods cannot, the procedure is virtually painless and there are no side effects.
If your nail infection is so extreme that no treatment has succeeded, then the best possible solution might be complete removal of the entire nail. To find out the best nail fungus treatment for your specific case, consult with a nail fungal expert at West Dermatology.
Nail Fungus Infection Prevention
It’s possible to prevent nail fungus infections before they even start, but it means following proper hygiene persistently:
- Keep your nails short, dry, and clean
- Avoid biting your nails
- Wear socks that provide ventilation
- Wear footwear in public places
- Apply antifungal spray or powder to at-risk areas
- Don’t use nail gels/wraps or fake nails
- Avoid sharing shoes and socks
- For manicures and pedicures, urge your stylist to use properly sterilized tools
To learn more about nail fungus treatment, visit WebMD.com.
Consult West Dermatology for More about Nail Fungus
Nail fungus can make you so self-conscious that you don’t wear the shoes you want or show off your flair for fashionable fingernails. There are plenty of options to manage, if not completely treat, any nail infection you may have. For an expert diagnosis of your nail condition as well as a custom treatment option for your specific case, contact West Dermatology for a consultation or call us in Arizona, Nevada, or California. Strap on those sandals or show off your nail flair with confidence again!
Next, read about Psoriasis.