Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, typically begins as a small white or yellow spot that eventually spreads, causing the toenails to thicken and crumble. Sometimes just one nail is affected, while other cases affect several toes. If you suspect you might have a nail fungal infection, medical treatment can effectively eliminate the bothersome symptoms of this condition.
What Causes Nail Fungus?
This type of infection occurs when a fungal organism, most often dermatophyte, is able to enter the nail through a cut or crack. Nail fungus is more common among older adults since their nails become brittle and are more likely to crack, allowing these organisms to invade. They also may have a weakened immune system that makes it easier for fungus to spread. Sometimes, athlete’s foot, in which the fungus affects the skin, spreads to the nails.
What Symptoms Characterize This Condition?
If you have nail fungus, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Thickened nails
- Discoloration that ranges in color from white to yellow to brown
- Brittle or crumbling texture
- Distorted shape
- Foul odor
Depending on the severity of the condition, it may also cause itching and pain in the affected area.
How Is a Fungal Infection Treated?
Left untreated, a fungal infection can cause permanent nail damage. This is especially dangerous for those who have diabetes since a minor foot problem can lead to serious complications including cellulitis. Treatment for this condition includes the application of oral and topical antifungal medications. If these measures are not effective, then the nail may need to be removed in order to treat the fungus. You can prevent a fungal infection by wearing shoes in moist areas like the locker room and around the pool, disinfecting nail clippers after use, and wearing socks and shoes that absorb sweat. If you get a salon pedicure, either make sure the tools used are disinfected or bring your own from home.
If you think you may have nail fungus, request an appointment with The Dermatology Clinic. Our doctors can diagnose your condition and recommend an effective treatment regimen. We have been providing high-quality dermatology care to clients in the Baton Rouge area since 1947.