So you’re a woman who’s had nail polish on for the past month and decide it’s time to remove it. That’s when you notice a yellow discoloration or white substance on your nail. Or you’re a guy and every month it seems harder and harder to cut through your ever thickening and discolored toenails. In both scenario’s it’s more than likely that Onychomycosis is involved. Our feet are very susceptible to Onychomycosis because our feet are usually covered with a shoe, which creates a humid environment. This environment is ideal for fungal growth. Toenail polish traps the fungal organism underneath, allowing it to grow unseen until the polish is removed.
Let’s dive a little deeper and discover Toenail Fungus (Onychomycosis) Causes, Prevention and Treatment.
Onychomycosis can have many presentations including a white color, which is usually indicative of a superficial nail fungus. It can also appear as a yellow or even green discoloration, which can penetrate full thickness through the nail plate making this infection difficult to treat. Once the fungus finds its way under the nail, it generally works its way back to toward the base of the nail leaving streaks or lines in its wake. The nail may also become very loose.
Regardless of presentation, most people are dismayed or even embarrassed by the appearance of nail fungus, so let’s discuss how you can treat and ultimately prevent recurrence of Onychomycosis. First of all, Onychomycosis should be treated earlier rather than later. A superficial nail infection can usually be treated with topical (paint on medication). This is usually applied twice daily on top and under the nail. There are many over-the-counter products and two types of prescription topical medications. One of these is quite new, but according to studies, it has shown promise. Talk to your doctor about these options.
Once the infection penetrates through the nail causing the nail to become thick and deformed, topical medication works poorly as it is not capable of penetrating through the nail. At this point you will want to consider oral medication (pill). There are several prescription antifungal medications on the market, but one of them; Terbinafine, has a relatively high success rate. Contrary to popular belief, this medication does not cause liver damage. This medication, like many others, is processed by your liver enzymes. Unless you have liver disease, drink an excessive amount of alcohol or are taking other medications that are also processed by your liver, this medication has proven itself to be quite safe. If your doctor is concerned about your liver function, he/she may order blood work prior to prescribing this medication.
If neither topical nor oral medication is right for you, there is also one other approved treatment for nail fungus and that is Laser. Laser usually involves one to three treatments. The treatment is usually painless. Recent studies have been mixed regarding Laser treatment. This treatment is usually not covered by insurance and can be quite expensive.
Preventing nail fungal infection involves keeping your feet in a dry environment and wearing materials that breath such as leather, cotton or wool. Synthetic materials, unless they are a breathable mesh (as in many sneakers) do no breath well. Ladies should avoid nylon stockings. Getting a pedicure generally will not give you a fungal infection but leaving nail polish on for long periods of time will inevitably cause fungal infection of the nail. If you notice any signs of fungal nail infection consult with your physician to see what treatment plan is right for you.
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