Onychomycosis (fungus toe) is a toe nail fungus which often causes thickening and discoloration of the toe nail plate.
Callus (dead skin) is broken down and builds up beneath the nail plate. The fungus causing the nail infection will often use this dead skin as a food source to continue multiplying. Sometimes the nail will even change shape and become quite distorted.
Foot fungus or athletes foot (tinea) may also be present in combination with the toe nail fungal infection.
Of all fungal infections that occur on the body, fungal nail infections are generally the most resistant and difficult to prevent and treat.
What Causes Toe Nail Fungus?
Onychomycosis (toe nail fungus) is simply a fungal infection of the toe nail.
Fungi can grow in all warm, moist places. Fungal nail infections usually commence growth at the end of the nail plate and continue to spread underneath the toe nail.
Sometimes chalky, white plaques form on the nail surface and as the infection progresses yellowish, brownish discoloration may be seen. Cell damage by the fungus to the foot of the nail can cause the nail to thicken and change in shape.
A foot fungus infection of the skin can spread to nails giving rise to a toenail fungus infection.
Toe nail fungus is treated in one of two ways:
1. Conservatively; or
Conservative treatment involves:
(1) The use of an antifungal tincture or paint will sometimes help to eliminate the fungus causing the damaged nail. Generally, nail tinctures for fungal nail infections have a success rate of approximately 10 to 30 percent. That's right... 70 to 90 percent failure rate. Success has been limited with the use of Gordochom, Loceryl, Daktarin and Phytonail tinctures. Recently, some new tinctures and topical creams have become available, however, the success rate of these treatments to date appears no better than those tinctures mentioned previously.
(2) A visit to the podiatrist for cutting and thinning of the nails infected will enable thorough application of any fungicidal creams, tinctures or lotions.
(3) Oral medication is available and has been found to have a success rate in the vicinity of 25% to 40%. The main problem is side effects associated with the oral medication. The side effects can be very serious and damaging to the liver.
(4) More recently, LASER treatment for fungal nails has been used by many Podiatrists in the USA, Australia and the United Kingdom. The LASER manufacturers claim success rates of up to 85%. Realistically, treatment success rates of up to 75% have been observed by Podiatrists using LASER treatment at Podiatry Care's Fungal Nail page
This success rate is much higher than any other treatment used previously and to date there appears to be no serious side effects reported. Here is a video on laser treatment for fungal nails...
This new laser treatment sounds promising, so most Podiatrists are watching results closely. We will keep you posted regarding the future success of this treatment modality.
Prevention of reinfection is very important.
If this is not carried out, treatment will normally fail. Therefore, if skin has been infected then advice on management of tinea or Athlete's Foot (skin fungal infection) will be needed. This skin condition should be treated along with the nails, otherwise re-infection is likely to occur.
Treat any traces of fungal infection that exists in your shoes with an antifungal or fungicidal spray. Apply this spray as recommended on the container or as instructed by your Podiatrist.
In most cases conservative treatment successfully alleviates discomfort. However, some very resistant cases will require specific oral medication and/or surgery.
Surgery is only considered when conservative treatment fails and oral medication can have significant side effects. Should the need arise these two options can be discussed with your podiatrist.
WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.
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Further information on toe nail fungus treatment can be found at ...
Podiatry Care's toe nail fungus page