Toenail Fungus, Why Should We Care About It?

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nail and the most common nail disorder. It is more common as we get older and with factors like diabetes, sweating, sports activities, occlusive footwear, and repeated nail trauma. Topical treatments eliminate the need for surveillance blood tests and cause less systemic complications. 


Why should we care about it? It isn’t just a cosmetic problem because nail fungus can spread to other nails, cause discomfort, and spread to family members.


Why did I get it? The same fungi that cause athlete’s foot also cause toenail fungus. Often toenail onychomycosis (fungal infection of the nail) spreads from athlete’s foot. The infection starts on the skin and then spreads to the toenails. Onychomycosis can also spread from toe to toe, from toe to finger, and to other people.


How do I know if the changes on my nail are from a fungus? Nail clippings are sent for microscopic evaluation. Diagnosis should be made on a nail clipping to distinguish it from psoriasis or nail bed trauma.


Do topical medications for nail fungus work? It is important to understand that no matter what antifungal medication you are prescribed; the medication is not going to fix the nail that is already abnormal looking. Effective treatment allows a new, healthy nail to come in and push out the old, abnormal nail. The rate at which your nail gets better depends on how quickly the new nail grows and in most; it takes 12 months for a new toenail to form.


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