You have a couple of yellowish, thick toenails. It's no big deal, right? Well, if the symptoms represent toenail fungal infection or onychomycosis, the condition could go from bad to worse, depending on your general health and how quickly you act on the condition.
Board-certified North Shore podiatrist, Dr. Gary Rogers, sees this foot malady frequently at Wilmette Foot and Ankle Clinic. He can go about fungal removal in several ways depending on the individual patient's needs.
Why Toenail Fungus Happens
Micro-organisms called dermatophytes infect toenails because these germs thrive in dark, moist places such as enclosed, sweaty shoes. The fungus also enjoys feeding on the protein material which makes up toenails. As such, certain conditions bring on the infection, including:
- wearing sweaty socks and old, dirty shoes
- walking barefoot on damp surfaces such as public pool areas and locker rooms
- being diabetic or having a weakened immune system
- simply being older
Toenail Fungus Symptoms
Many toenail fungus infections are mild, causing nothing more than brittle, thick, yellowed nails. As infection advances, however, dull, misshapen nails may result, with a foul odor and even pain. Unfortunately, people often spread their toenail fungus from toe to toe, from foot to foot and even to the fingernails unless they receive treatment.
Removal of toenail fungus takes many forms from a simple application of over-the-counter or prescription anti-fungal creams and special nail polishes to oral medications to state-of-the-art laser treatments. Sometimes the only solution is an in-office surgical removal of the infected nail, including chemical treatment of the nail bed.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest that milder fungal problems can be eliminated with daily application of Vicks Vapo Rub, a tried and true menthol and eucalyptus based cough and cold medication. Trimming and thinning thick nails with a clippers and nail file aids the effectiveness of any over the counter medication.
An Ounce of Prevention
Take care of your feet daily. Wash them with soap and water, especially after heavy exertion. Wear moisture-wicking socks made of wool or rayon, and avoid cotton which holds sweat. Discard old shoes, especially athletic footwear. Cut toenails straight across with clean clippers. Regularly use an over the counter antifungal spray or cream.
See Dr. Rogers
If you struggle with persistent foot fungus, contact your North Shore podiatrist at Wilmette Foot and Ankle Clinic. He will evaluate your symptoms and advise the best course of treatment for fungal removal and prevention. Call for an appointment: 847-256-4434.