If you have recently noticed that one or more of your toenails has thickened, changed color, taken on a new shape or is more prone to splitting, it is a good idea to see your podiatrist. Unfortunately, those symptoms may indicate that you have developed a toenail fungus. If left untreated, symptoms will often worsen, resulting in pain or even a bacterial infection. Since it is common to be unfamiliar with fungal infections of the toenail, being aware of the following questions and answers about this common health problem will be very helpful.
#1-Where Does The fungus Come From?
It is often challenging to determine exactly where the fungus afflicting your toenail developed. Although people can also develop a fungus of their fingernail, it is more likely to be seen in the toenails. If you have recently spent time with someone suffering from a similar infection, you could have contracted it from them. Gyms, public pools and other facilities where you would expect to be shoeless in a damp area also present the opportunity for cross-transmission of the fungus. Finally, you may have caught it as the result of inadequate sterilization of the tools used during a recent pedicure or manicure.
You are at higher risk of contracting a fungal toenail infection if you have diabetes or circulatory problems, wear fake nails or are over the age of 65. It is a good idea to speak with your podiatrist about ways that you can minimize the risk of its recurrence.
#2-What Are Your Treatment Options?
Unfortunately, if you are aware of fungal toenail infections at all, it is often because you know someone who needed to have their toenail removed due to the severity of their infection. It is important to note that removing the toenail is not the first, or even the second, most common treatment option. You are likely to be offered a topical cream or paint to coat the nail with, often in conjunction with oral medications. Although there are over-the-counter treatment options, your podiatrist can prescribe stronger medications that may address the problem faster.
If topical creams and oral medications like anti-fungal pills are not effectively treating the fungus, then your podiatrist may suggest removing the toenail. If you are opposed to the removal of part or all of the affected nail bed, a laser treatment of the area may be successful when ointments or creams and oral medications have failed.
#3-How Long Will It Take For Your Toenail To Look Normal Again?
The length of time that it will take your toenail to recover will be based on a variety of factors, including the severity of your infection and the way that the fungus was ultimately abolished. Since you will not be considered cured until a new, healthy nail has replaced the infected one, it will take much longer than treating other common infections.
WebMD reports that it can take up to a year for your toenail to regain its former appearance. It is possible for the infection to occur again in the future. Since healthline.com reports that fungal infections of the nail are caused by the same fungus that causes jock itch, athlete's foot and ringworm, prompt treatment of each of those issues will reduce the likelihood of the fungus making its way to your toenails.
In conclusion, fungal toenail infections are an uncomfortable, common issue and there are numerous treatment options available. Before making an appointment with your podiatrist about your suspected toenail fungus, it is a good idea to be aware of the common questions and answers listed above.
Contact centers like Allied Ankle & Foot Care Centers PC for more information.