Toenail fungus appears as a thickening and/or discoloration (usually a yellowish or brownish appearance) of your toenails. The culprit of this issue, as the name suggests, stems from a fungal infection within the nail. The fungus itself can be contracted from numerous things, such as going barefoot in a public place (beach, gym, outdoors in general), others who live with you, a nail salon, or your own foot sweat while wearing restrictive shoes. General symptoms, aside from the appearance changes, may include pain due to the thickened nail while wearing closed toed shoes.
In some cases, nails may look like they may have fungus in them, but in actuality do not. For example, thickening of the toenail can also be caused repetitive microtrauma from poor fitting shoes (shoes that are too small). Other times, you may have dry skin which also affects the nutrition and moisture level of the nail.
Treatment for fungal toenails includes topical and oral medications. Consistency with application/use of the medication is key. We tend to start with topical medication since the oral form tends to be harder on the liver. However, in healthier patients oral anti-fungal medication may be indicated as it is more aggressive. We always perform a liver function test prior to prescribing these pills. We typically tailor our initial treatment to anti-fungal since the topical medication is very mild in terms of side effects. However, if no improvement is made, we also do offer a nail biopsy in which a sample of the nail is sent to a lab for further analysis. We also offer an array of very minor nail surgeries which may enhance the treatment process. All nail procedures are first gently numbed prior to starting.
For more information, please feel free to get in touch with us.