Fungal Nail Infections and Treatment Options
Toenail fungus is more common than you would think. According to the Australian Podiatry Association, around 10% of the Australian adult population is affected by Onychomycosis (Tinea unguium) a common form of nail fungus, often found on the foot.
These infections tend to remain in the nail if they are left untreated and can infect the nail bed as well as spread to other nails and skin. They are frequently caused by a dermatophyte, a pathogenic fungus found growing on skin, hair, nails and other bodily surfaces. When a dermatophyte gets in underneath your nail, it causes the yellow/brownish discolouration and often associated with a fungal infection. In addition, the nail will become quite thick, and maintain a crumbly texture when cut. If left untreated for a significant amount of time, there is a chance that the skin underneath your nail will become inflamed and/or painful and may retain a purulent smell. It is extremely important to contact a podiatrist at the first indication of a fungal or nail infection.
Best Ways to Avoid Fungal Nail Infections
The best way to avoid a fungal or nail infection is to maintain good foot hygiene by:
- Washing your feet daily
- Avoid pedicures in nail salons that do not sterilise their instruments
- Avoid occlusive footwear
- Not share nail polish and nail care instruments such as clippers and filed.
- Not walking barefoot outside and in public areas such as pools and showers
- Trimming toenails short. This will prevent dirt and other germ-prone substances from getting stuck under your nails
How to Treat Fungal Nail Infections?
Treatment options available are topical nail lacquers, oral antimycotics and laser therapy. The best treatment option depends on your past treatment, extent of infection, time management, overall health and budget.
Topical nail lacquers are the cheapest option available. They are applied to the nail like a nail varnish. Depending on the product it will have to be applied daily to weekly. It can take up to 6-12 months to see results. Some topical treatments are not recommended for children 12 years and under, pregnant women and women breastfeeding.
Oral antimycotics are recommended if resistance to topical antifungal therapy. There are a range of oral antimycotics such as griseofulvin, ketoconazole (Nizoral), fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox)and terbinafine (Lamisil tablets). They are systemic drugs meaning they have an effect on the entire body. They require a prescription from your General Practitioner. They are contraindicated in children 12 years and under and persons with kidney and liver problems, pregnant women and women breastfeeding.
At Mint Foot Care, we offer Photodynamic Antimicrobial Therapy (PACT) if other treatment options have been unsuccessful or are contraindicated. This innovative technology uses a combination of a sensitising drug and visible light to selectively destroy fungi in the toenails without affecting surrounding tissue, making it 100% safe!
Regardless of which treatment option you choose, you must also minimise reinfection until the treatment plan is finished by washing your socks in hot water or with an anti-fungal wash. Change socks and towels daily. Alternate between footwear daily and leave shoes in the sun to kill fungi. Avoid walking barefoot in the home. Keep all floor surfaces clean by vacuuming and mopping regularly. Clean the shower floor after use.
It takes time for fungal infections to resolve, so be sure to be diligent with your preferred treatment method until the fungus has cleared.