At first glance, skin and nail conditions might not seem to be as concerning as some of the other foot and ankle problems we resolve for patients here at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle. There is no denying the importance of diabetic foot care or helping patients recover from sports injuries, but let’s take a second to look at the bigger picture.
When you develop a skin or nail condition, like fungal toenails, it can take away your interest in doing favorite activities and lower your quality of life. In addition, any type of infection can turn into a serious complication if you have diabetes. Our offices in Avon and Frisco, CO provide effective treatment for fungal infections so you can stay safe and perform your favorite activities without being embarrassed or self-conscious!
Fungal Nail Symptoms
The most easily recognized signs of a fungal infection are apparent in the appearance of affected toenails. You can recognize the issue—also known as onychomycosis—when you have brittle, crumbly, thickened, discolored and/or dull nails. Lack of normal, healthy shine and a dark coloration from debris built up under the nails indicate an infection, but also be aware of pain, a foul odor, and separation from the nailbed.
Toenail Fungus Causes
Fungal toenails are generally caused by fungi, yeasts, and molds known as dermatophytes. These microscopic organisms thrive in dark environments and do not require sunlight to survive. Typically found in warm, damp environments, dermatophytes will often invade the skin through tiny abrasions and cuts. The fungus can attach itself to unprotected feet and sticks around if the environment is right.
Fungal Infection Prevention and Treatment
The best course of action for fungal toenails is to keep them from developing in the first place. Some effective preventative measures include:
- Wash your feet daily. Be sure to use warm water and mild soap to wash off potential contaminants. Dry them thoroughly afterwards, especially focusing on the areas between the toes (where the fungus often resides).
- Wear moisture-wicking socks. Some fabrics (like wool, nylon, and polypropylene) are better at wicking away moisture than others. Keeping feet dry is a key component of preventing fungal toenails, so pick up socks made from these materials.
- Change damp socks. When you work out, have hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), or know your footwear will become wet, have a dry set of socks handy to swap out.
- Wear shoes constructed from breathable materials. Choose shoes that allow your feet to breathe and wear sandals or open-toed footwear whenever possible. Go barefoot at home (if you are not diabetic!) to further reduce your risk of fungal infection.
- Protect your feet while in public areas. Pool decks, locker rooms, and gym showering areas are common sources of the dermatophytes responsible for fungal nails. When walking in these places, wear clean sandals or shower shoes to protect your feet.
- Alternate your footwear. Rotate between at least two pairs of shoes you wear on alternating days. This practice enables each pair to thoroughly dry out in the 24 hours between uses.
Over-the-counter products might be able to help with this condition. Typically, this is a more effective treatment option for new or mild cases. If you have tried these products and haven’t found success, you need professional care. When this is the case, techniques we use at our office range from prescription medications—we prescribe topical and oral—to nail removal in severe cases.
Professional Fungal Toenail Treatment
Fungal toenails can be embarrassing and keep you away from favorite activities, but this doesn’t have to be the case! Instead, reach out to Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle and let us provide the effective treatment you need. Our medical staff is ready to assist you, so give us a call at (970) 949-0500 to reach our Avon, CO office, (970) 668-4565 to connect with our Frisco office, or simply take advantage of the form here on our website and schedule an appointment online today.