When you look at your toenails, you expect to see clear, shiny tissue. (Well, unless they’re covered in colored nail polish…)
If you look down and see unsightly, discolored nails, it can be quite embarrassing. You probably won’t want to wear open-toed shoes or sandals in warm weather any more. Going to the beach or pool on a warm, sunny day becomes a dreadful experience.
We want you to feel comfortable in situations that should be enjoyable. The first step to getting help for this problem is to know what’s happening. From there, you can evaluate your options to resolve it.
A likely explanation for embarrassing, unsightly toenails is a fungal infection.
In this case, the fungus (onychomycosis) responsible for the nail discoloration is stubborn. Once it has set in, the fungus doesn’t want to leave. Given the fact your feet provide ideal conditions, why would it? After all, fungi require warm, damp environments and do not need sunlight to survive. If you think about it, that perfectly describes a foot encased in a sock and shoe.
Further, toes have less blood flow than most other areas of the body – and this means it’s harder for your body’s immune system to recognize and defeat an infection down there on its own. Without the resistance they should meet, microorganisms like onychomycosis can thrive.
So here’s the deal, if you want to have a case of toenail fungus resolved—and this actually could be said of virtually any medical condition—early intervention is best.
When you give us the opportunity to provide treatment at early stages, we see the best results. This isn’t to say long-standing conditions are untreatable – just it’s not as easy and can take longer. So it’s really in your best interest to come see us as soon as you notice symptoms.
So what do you need to watch out for? Well, toenails that have become discolored, dull, thickened, and brittle indicate a present infection.
Previously, the most effective treatment for fungal toenails was a combination of oral and topical medications. Why a combination? Well, this is because each has its own respective pros and cons.
Topical medications can—depending on the severity of the infection—by reasonably successful at destroying fungus residing at the surface level. Unfortunately, it’s unable to reach fungal spores residing underneath the protective safety of a toenail. For those spores, oral medication is a better option.
Oral medication is delivered via the bloodstream, so it can get to the covered spores. The problem with oral treatment is its risk for potential side effects, including problems with the liver.
Since these respective approaches each have issues—topical being unable to reach below the nail and potential side effects from oral medication—what can you do?
This particular fungal nail treatment is quite effective in eliminating the offensive fungus, but without having the disadvantages of more traditional options.
Laser therapy for fungal infections is effective—the calibrated light waves are able to even target the fungus nested underneath nail tissue and eradicate it—and has no known side effects. The rest of the tissue around infection sites goes completely unaffected by the process. This treatment option is FDA-approved and you will be able to walk out afterwards and proceed with any normal activities you had planned for the rest of the day.
If you need our help to treat your fungal nails, we’re certainly here for you, but there are measures you can (and should) take to reduce the risk of this happening to you in the first place. This can entail things like:
- Keeping your feet dry – and especially drying them thoroughly after every bath or shower.
- Changing your socks daily.
- Washing your socks inside out to help clean out more of the dead skin that flakes off during the course of the day (which fungus would otherwise use as “food”).
- Alternating between two different pairs of shoes every other day to give each pair a good 24 hours to dry out completely before they are worn again.
- Wearing clean sandals or shower shoes in public locker rooms, gym showering areas, and indoor pool decks.
For more information on toenail fungus—or to request your appointment for laser nail therapy—contact Ripepi Foot & Ankle Clinics Cleveland, Ohio area offices by calling (440) 843-3692—for both Parma and Rocky River—and one of our team members will be happy to help. If you’d prefer, you can take a moment right now and connect with us online!