What is nail fungus?
Nail fungus is a nail infection that will cause your nail to become yellow, thick and friable. Because it is an infection of the nail bed itself, it stays in your nail even though you cut away the affected part. Aside from the aesthetic problem, it is also a health issue – left untreated, it can easily spread to the entire nail and contaminate other nails.
Toenails can take up to a year to grow back completely. Therefore, treatment for nail fungus can take a long time. This is why it is crucial to start treatment as early as possible if you suspect you have a nail fungus infection.
What causes nail fungus?
The main cause of nail fungus is the presence of a fungus inside your nail bed. It can easily spread around if you use the same nail clippers on your other toenails and/or share clippers with someone with nail fungus. Fungus thrives with the humidity and the darkness of a closed toe shoe. Therefore, it is normal to see your nail fungus spread more during winter.
How to treat nail fungus?
There are many options to treat nail fungus. The options available to you depend on your overall medical condition and the severity of your nail fungus infection:
1. Determining the nature of your nail fungus infection
Your podiatrist can take a piece of your nail and analyze it in order to determine exactly what fungus or bacteria is causing your nail infection, in order to prescribe the appropriate treatment.
2. Prescribing nail fungus medication
Your podiatrist can prescribe an anti-fungal medication to apply on your nails on a daily basis to treat your infection. In severe cases of nail fungus, if your overall medical condition is adequate, you can also take anti-fungal pills to treat your nail fungus infection. It is important to note that pills can have some side effects, like diminishing your liver function in some cases. It is important to discuss this with your family doctor beforehand.
3. Trimming your nail fungus
Because nail fungus makes your nail very thick, it is difficult for you to cut them at home. It is also difficult for whatever medication you are applying to work properly. Therefore, if you are applying a prescribed medication daily, it is important to visit your podiatrist every 2-4 months in order to get your nail trimmed and thinned. Only in this way will your medication work fully.
How to treat nail fungus at home?
While waiting to see your podiatrist, or in between your podiatric visit, please follow these steps to reduce the chances of your fungus to spread around.
Do not share nail clippers
When cutting your nails, please start with the healthy nail. Only after cutting all your healthy nails should you cut the ones with nail fungus. Then, make sure to clean your instruments with alcohol when everything is done. This way, you will not contaminate your other nails with nail fungus. Do not share clippers with another person without properly cleaning the instrument beforehand.
Check your skin
Fungal infections can start on your skin and work its way up to your nails. They can also affect your skin after affecting your nails. This is why it is important to verify the bottom of your feet and in between your toes from time to time. Skin fungus infections are easier to treat than nail infections. By treating your skin infection early, you are saving yourself from a potential nail fungus infection that can take much longer to treat.