A fungal nail (onychomycosis)
is a fairly common foot condition.
It is estimated that 5% of the population gets fungal nail infections. It causes yellow, thick, scaly and foul smelling nails. The fungus can be picked up anywhere and it has a tendency to spread quickly. Considering that the infection is mostly in the nail bed underneath the nail plate, it is hard to get rid of this infection.
Anyone can get fungal infection, but it’s more common in people under a lot of stress, who wear shoes that don’t fit well or get pedicures at nail salons.
People who go barefoot in warm, wet places, such as public showers, swimming pools
and locker rooms are also at risk. The fungus can also spread on direct contact with individuals
or with objects containing fungal spores, such as socks, shoes, etc.
Untreated, fungus can spread to other parts of the body, nails, hands, legs, etc. If there is excessive skin breakdown a secondary bacterial infection can occur. This is potentially dangerous in individuals diagnosed with diabetes and those with a suppressed immune system.
What are the signs and symptoms?
• Changes in toenail colour
• Thickening, scaling and
crumbling of the nail plate
• Presence of odour
Up until now the only treatment choices consisted of using oral and topical medications. However, oral antifungal medications can cause permanent liver and kidney damage, requiring regular blood testing to monitor any unwanted
side effects. Topical medications require regular nail debridement (shortening and thinning the nail with a grinder) followed with the daily application of an antifungal medication. Depending on the
severity of the infection, it can
be a long process to see any changes.
Laser treatment is the fastest and most advanced way to treat a fungal nail infection.