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An infection of the nail plate known as a fungal toenail is not harmful, but it is a bit of an eyesore, and if left untreated it can be distributed to other toes and the nail matrix (the nail root). Once an infection has reached the nail root, it damages the matrix permanently, which can leave the nail permanently disfigured. Members of your family may be more likely to develop a fungal nail infection if you or a family member has it because it is an infection after all. To learn more about fungal toenail infections and how to treat them, keep reading. 

What are Fungal Toenails? 

Onychomycosis is a type of infection that affects the nails. Instead of being caused by bacteria, this infection is brought on by a fungus, which can result in the nail becoming thick, crumbly, and discoloured. A variety of fungi can result in fungal nails. Since fungi prefer warm, moist, dark surroundings, shoes make the ideal breeding habitat. The big toenail is most frequently impacted because it is frequently the most likely to sustain damage usually from wearing badly-fitting footwear, creating a simpler entry point for the infection.

 How Do Fungal Toenails Develop?

Fungi that infect the nail can cause fungal nails. The fungus invades the nail through a broken nail plate, and it spreads as a result of the dermatophytes’ capacity to absorb nutrients from keratin. The skin and nails contain the protein keratin. The fungi that cause fungal nails to fall into one of two categories:

  • Dermatophytes 
  • Yeast

It is crucial to differentiate between the two because the treatment for dermatophyte and yeast infections differs.

Who is Prone to Developing a Fungal Toenail?

Though anyone can contract a fungal toenail infection, some people are more susceptible to developing fungal nails than others. Here are just a few of the people who will be more prone to developing a fungal nail infection: 

  • Senior citizens (over 55) 
  • Those who have diabetes are twice as likely.
  • Those who have naturally sweaty feet.
  • Athletes and individuals who frequently use swimming pools and gyms.
  • Living with someone who already has a fungal toenail infection. 
  • Someone with a history of athlete’s foot.
  • Someone who suffers from psoriasis.
  • Someone who has a weakened immune system. 

Signs of a Fungal Toenail Infection 

There are multiple signs which might suggest you have a fungal toenail infection, some of which are: 

  • Thickened toenails.
  • Your toenails have changed colour or are discoloured.
  • You have a crack in the nail. 
  • The nail is beginning to crumble. 
  • The debris is stuck beneath the nail plate.
  • There is a malodour coming from the nail

The Advantages of Podiatry Treatment 

Based on your signs and symptoms, as well as a physical examination of your feet and nails, your podiatrist can usually determine whether you have a fungal toenail infection. Sometimes it’s necessary to send a nail sample away for analysis. The completion of the results if the nail is sent to a lab for analysis takes about six weeks. Our podiatrists at Doncaster Foot Clinic, however, will carry out a fungal (dermatophyte) toenail test which is 97% accurate and gives a definitive result within just 5 minutes, meaning treatment can be initiated immediately afterwards.

The podiatrist can give you the most optimal treatment recommendations as well as details and suggestions on how to stop the infection from worsening or coming back. Your podiatrist can thin-thicken nails to make them less noticeable. Thinning the nail will also enable any topical antifungals to penetrate the nail, increasing the efficacy of topical antibiotic treatment.

What Podiatry Treatment is Available? 

After an assessment that includes documenting the medical history and problem history. The podiatrist can usually make a diagnosis using this information, an examination of the affected nail(s), and a review of the foot.

The type and severity of the infection as well as the particular patient will determine the best course of action for treating fungal nails. The patient, the podiatrist, and in some cases the GP, will all agree on a treatment plan before it is implemented. Please refer to the information below for more details on available treatments:

It’s important to keep in mind that treating fungal nails requires patience and time because it takes time for a brand-new, healthy nail to emerge from its root. This could take up to 18 months if the entire nail is infected.

We can assist you in determining the source of the issue and advising a course of action to help you get back on your feet more healthily and comfortably. You can reach us by email or by calling 01302 342 971, and we’ll help you find the right appointment for your fungal toenail infection.

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Can You Treat a Fungal Toenail?