Toenail Fungus: causes, symptoms and treatment

Updated 7/7/2020
Nail Fungus is treated painlessly with a special laser
Nail Fungus is treated painlessly with a special laser.

What's Toenail Fungus?

Various types of fungi are present everywhere in the environment and most fungi are harmless until they penetrate the skin.

 

A fungus can invade through minor cuts or after injury. Repeated irritation to the toes may cause the nail to separate from the bed which makes the toes vulnerable.

Fungal infections of the nail plate, also known as onychomycosis and nail matrix, are the most common nail disease.

Symptoms of Toenail Fungus

The first sign of potential fungal nail infection is when the nail becomes thickened and turns black, yellow, or green in color. After that stage, the nail often becomes brittle, with pieces breaking off from the toe.

 

Through time, the skin underneath and around the nail becomes inflamed. You may also notice white or yellow patches on the nail bed, scaly skin next to the nail, and an unpleasant smell. It may be painful secondary to the thickness of the nail and from the lifting of the nail plate off the nail bed.

 

What Causes Toenail Fungal Infections?

As we age, blood circulation is diminished, the fungus has had many years to grow, and nails grow slower and thicken, giving way to possible infection.  Nail fungus tends to affect men more often than women.

Other risk factors include:

  • Excessive perspiration

  • A humid environment

  • Poorly-ventilated socks and shoes

  • Going barefoot in public pools, gyms, and shower rooms

  • Athlete’s foot

  • Diabetes 

 

    Toenail Fungus Treatment Options

    How to Treat Toenail Fungus

    Topical

    The first line of defense is typically topical medication. This can be administered as a cream, gel, or nail polish. Your doctor may write you a prescription, though some topical toenail anti-fungal agents can be purchased over the counter.

     

    Oral

    Oral antifungal pills may be used for moderate-to-severe or hard-to-treat fungal nail infections. These medicines have shown the most success at approximately 75% clinical cure. However, oral medicine may cause possible drug interactions, allergy, and/or systemic effects for some patients.

     

    Nail Removal

    For severe nail infections, your doctor may recommend removing the infected nail during an office visit. Performed with a numbing injection, your doctor will loosen the skin around the nail and separate the nail from the skin by using a tool under the nail. If only part of the nail is diseased, only the diseased part is removed.

     

    Q-Clear™ laser treatment

    The new advent of a fungal nail laser has changed the treatment options.

     

    Q-clear™laser treatment effectively resolves underlying fungal infections while preserving delicate surrounding tissue. The mid-infrared laser wavelength penetrates the toenail and eliminates the destructive fungus at the root of the infection. Clear growth will begin to appear as the revitalized nail grows out.

     

    The treatment takes approximately 15 minutes for both feet and patients report a mild, warming sensation as laser treats the nail. There is no downtime following the treatment and patients can immediately return to normal activity. Laser treatment takes one visit, with an occasional touch-up.

     

    There are reports of cure rates from 77% to 95% in the literature after one treatment with the laser. In many cases, patients who did not obtain a cure went on to full resolution with a second treatment. We have found that laser therapy is a very safe and effective method of treating onychomycosis.

     

    In addition to applying the heat-based laser treatments, our physicians apply nail lacquer for optimal results.

     

    University Foot and Ankle Institute, the Best Choice for Onychomycosis Treatment

     

    Our doctors take a cutting-edge approach to your nail problems. Whether the solution is as simple as an over-the-counter drug or taking advantage of laser technology, we care about your feet.

    We take a cutting-edge approach to your nail problems. Whether the solution is as simple as an over-the-counter drug or taking advantage of laser technology, we care about your feet.

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

    Save

     

     

    Frequently Asked Questions about Toenail Fungus

     

     
    Q: How effective is laser treatment compared to taking meds to kill the toenail fungus. And which helps prevent re-occurrences better?

    Firstly, neither method guarantees that they won’t get infected again. If this is something a person is susceptible to, the odds are higher that it could come back no matter what they do. Both methods work very well to clear the toenail fungus.

     

    The downside to the oral meds is the pills can upset the liver in some cases and have side effects for some people. The laser does not have any such side effects. Certainly, if you have liver issues, your doctor thinks the oral meds would not be best for you or if you tried the oral meds and it came back, you might be best trying laser treatment.

     

    • Foot and Ankle Surgeon at University Foot and Ankle Institute
      Dr. Justin Franson, DPM, University Foot and Ankle Institute, Foot and Ankle Surgeon

      Dr. Justin Franson, DPM, is a Board Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle Specialist and Diplomate of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. He attended the School College of Podiatric Medicine in Chicago, graduating in 2001. Dr. Franson then accepted a three-year residency program at the Greater Los Angeles VA and UCLA County Hospital. 

       

      Dr. Franson specializes in several areas including total ankle replacement and sports medicine. Treating athletes and weekend warriors like himself brings him a lot of joy. Dr. Franson keeps active with running marathons, triathlons, hiking, basketball, and golf.

    13,452 Total 1st Party Reviews / 4.9 out of 5 Stars
    • Yelp
      I have been a patient of Dr Franson for several years and plan on remaining with his office as long as he is in practice in my ...
      Joan A.
    • GatherUp
      Dr Fransom and the whole staff are awesome!!
      Bruce L.
    • GatherUp
      I have know drs Kellman and Feldman for almost 30 years and it was nice to see (at least one of) them again. It used to be my k...
      Lynn S.
    • GatherUp
      Excellent service and care provided by Dr Kelman and his staff
      Susan C.
    • GatherUp
      Dr. Kelman was professional, friendly, and helpful.
      Janet M.
    • GatherUp
      Waiting area very small and distancing during Covid could be difficult...
      David G.
    • Yelp
      Wow
      What a great experience. From the front desk to doctor all in all I was very pleased. Dr. Briskin was very thorough and lis...
      Kristen S.
    • GatherUp
      Recommending dr Kelman to my husband
      Kimberly E.
    • GatherUp
      Staff, does not seem so busy, but for example at my last appt- I requested 5 times the nurse to check if my Insurance approved...
      Maria A.
    • GatherUp
      the institute staff was very professional.
      John S.
    • Google
      I had a great experience @ University Foot and Ankle Institute on Feb. 27, 2020. The person clipping my toenails was careful k...
      James M.
    • GatherUp
      The staff is so welcoming, accommodating and helpful.
      Lorna S.
    Same Day Appointments
    Now Available!

    Or call 877-989-9110

    24 hours a day, 7 days a week