After a great workout you just want to hop in the locker room shower, but then you realize you’ve forgotten your flip-flops. Suddenly the enemy appears. It’s too late. You are surrounded. There is no chance of escape from the dreaded condition known as onychomycosis, a.k.a. fungal nails.
A fungal nail infection occurs when microscopic organisms attack your nail through a small opening like a cut. These fungi love to hang out in warm, moist places, so you are especially vulnerable to their advances when walking barefoot around public areas like swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers. Sweaty shoes are a fungi favorite as well. The worst part is, once you are infected, the fight against fungus may become an all-out war!
Fungal nails can be downright ugly. There, we said it. Symptoms of the infection include a progressive decline in quality and color. Nails can start out with a white spot, and end up yellow and brown in color. Debris can begin to gather underneath them. They will thicken, deform, and become crumbly, possibly even splitting and separating from the skin, and they can take on a foul odor—not a pretty picture. They’re not just hard to look at, though. They’re hard to get rid of too!
Battling the Bacteria
While not typically painful, a fungal nail infection can eventually become uncomfortable to wear shoes or walk, and can spread or cause permanent damage. This condition does not go away on its own, and without treatment, will actually continue to get worse. The earlier you start treatment, the better chance you have of winning the battle. It is especially important to seek treatment right away if you have diabetes, since any infection—big or small—can have serious consequences.
Fighting the Fungus
Anti-fungal medication is your first line of defense. It comes in topical ointment, lotion, or polish forms. If the stubborn fungus fights back, you may need to call in the troops at Carolina Podiatry Group. We can provide you with a prescription strength medication or antifungal pills. We also offer laser treatment—a high-tech, noninvasive procedure that uses light beams to pinpoint and destroy the fungus. If all else fails, there are surgical options as well.
Even once you get rid of the fungus, however, it will likely try to re-invade. Be ready. Keep your feet clean and dry at all times. Wear shoes and socks made of breathable materials and change them frequently. Toenails should be kept neat and trim and you should always wear sandals or shower shoes in public places. Never share your nail clippers, towels, or shoes. In addition, spraying your footwear with antifungal spray can force fungi to retreat and surrender.
For more tips about taking on onychomycosis or for information about any other conditions, call Brandon Percival, DPM, Julie Percival, DPM, or William Harris IV, DPM, of Carolina Podiatry Group in SC. Dial (803) 285-1411 in Lancaster or (803) 548-FEET in Indian Land. Even if the infection has progressed, you don’t have to raise the white flag! We can help you defeat fungal nails and take care of all your foot care needs. Call us today.