One particular condition we treat for many individuals is toenail fungus. Whereas this is actually a fairly common problem, it’s a source of embarrassment and self-consciousness (in addition to being a health concern).
Taking a little time now to understand this condition and how Dr. Bruce Scudday can help is the right start for restoring your nails back to health. Of course, even better is not having to deal with the problem in the first place—and, to that end, we also have some tips that will reduce your risk of contracting this stubborn infection.
How Can You Recognize Toenail Fungus?
Essentially, the main symptom of toenail fungus is the discolored appearance. Affected nails are dull, darkened, and distorted. In addition to visual cues, your toenails will also be thickened, yet brittle and crumbly. When the infection has been present for an extended period of time and become more severe in nature, you may even detect a slightly foul odor.
Some patients experience pain with this condition, particularly when the fungal infection causes toenails to separate from their respective nailbeds.
Why Does This Condition Develop?
The responsible microorganisms in this case are yeasts, molds, and fungi known as dermatophytes. They are typically found in environments that are warm and damp. Dermatophytes can thrive in the dark and do not require sunlight to survive.
If we take a moment to consider the ideal environment for fungus—warm, damp, and dark—it can almost perfectly describe a foot encased in a sock and shoe (particularly when they are made from materials that do not allow the foot to breathe).
When the conditions are right, the offensive fungus will attach to unprotected feet. From there, it usually requires a cut or abrasion of some sort to nestle in and make itself at home. Given the microscopic nature of these fungal spores, the cut doesn’t have to be particularly great in size—even tiny ones allow microorganisms to enter.
How Are Fungal Toenails Treated
As a starting point, we have to mention that you can find over-the-counter products that advertise as being able to help with this condition. The fact of the matter, though, is that they are not effective.
Many of those OTC use natural ingredients that aren’t proven to work. When you want the fungus to be eradicated, you need the right kind of medication, which is where our office can help.
Dr. Scudday can prescribe oral and topical medications to target the fungus and restore your nails back to a healthy, clear state.
The oral medications target the infection from the inside-out. They travel through the bloodstream and can reach dermatophytes residing underneath nail tissue. Conversely, topical medication is applied to affected toenails and works to eradicate fungus residing on the surface.
If you have a case of fungal toenails, come in and see Dr. Scudday for treatment at the earliest opportunity. The infection will only continue to worsen the longer it is left untreated.
Can Toenail Fungus Be Prevented?
We can provide treatments to restore your nails back to health, but a better course of action is simply to prevent the infection from developing in the first place.
To lower your risk of toenail fungus, here are some measures you need to take:
- Wash your feet every day. When you shower or bathe, be sure to use mild soap and warm water to wash away potential contaminants. After you are done washing, make sure you dry your feet thoroughly before putting on socks and shoes. Pay special attention to the areas between your toes, since fungus and other microorganisms find these places to be particularly appealing.
- Choose moisture-wicking socks. Not all socks are the same when it comes to keeping your feet as dry as possible. Some fabrics are better for wicking moisture away (which is a key to preventing fungal nails), so be sure to choose socks made out of materials like wool, polypropylene, and other blends which are designated as being “moisture-wicking.”
- Change damp socks. Whenever your socks become damp—like if you’ve been working out or you suffer from hyperhidrosis (a condition of excessive sweating)—change them at the earliest possible opportunity. And if you’re aware of such activities or existing conditions, have extra pairs with you.
- Protect your feet in public. As noted earlier, fungal spores thrive in areas that are warm and damp. Accordingly, you need to take precautions in places like gym locker rooms, indoor pool decks, and other such places that meet those criteria. The best measure is to protect your feet with clean sandals or shower shoes (and make sure they’re your own and you aren’t borrowing someone else’s).
- Alternate shoes. Wear (at least) two different pairs of shoes, and then make sure you alternate them every other day. Doing so gives each pair 24 hours so they can dry out thoroughly between uses.
Top Fungal Toenail Care in El Paso
If you live in the greater El Paso community and need treatment for fungal toenails, come in and see Dr. Bruce Scudday. He has been able to help others who had been suffering from this very issue—and he can provide the same expert care for you!
For more information, or to request an appointment, call either of our offices at (915) 533-5151 (to connect with our Curie Drive office) or (915) 856-3331 (to connect with our George Dieter office).