Toenail fungus, also called onychomycosis, is an infection that forms beneath the surface of the nail. This infection can make your toenail change colors, get thicker, crumble or even give off an unpleasant odor. Also, toe nail fungus is infectious. So, even if you start with one impacted nail, the fungus can spread to other nails or parts of your skin, causing further infection. And that's why it’s important to stop toenail fungus before it starts. Or, at the very least, to treat an infection as soon you notice signs of trouble.

Toenail Fungus Causesa toe with toenail fungus

Everywhere you walk, surfaces are covered with fungal organisms. We just can't see them, because they're microscopic. And, most of the time, they decide to leave us alone. Sometimes, though, these little particles can sneak beneath the surface of your skin, through tiny cracks or cut. This could happen anywhere, but toenails are a common spot for infection, because anything from a stubbed toe to a tight shoe could cause trauma to the skin around the nail. In turn, fungus gets an open invitation to enter your body and start causing problems.

Toe nail fungus doesn't discrimate, so we see older patienst with infections, and we even treat toenail fungus in kids. However, patients with diabetes, compromised immune systems, or a history of athlete’s foot infections are more likely to develop onychomycosis.

Signs and  Symptoms 

In the early stages of infection, your toenail may look completely normal. Soon enough, though, its appearance will change. In time, the nail can look so infected that you may feel uncomfortable wearing anything but closed-toed shoes in public.

As we mentioned earlier, some symptoms of toe nail fungus include:
•    A thicker nail, as pictured on the right
•    Brittle nails that crumble or shift shape
•    The nail's surface appears yellor, or chalky white debris forms beneath it
•    Skin around the nail grows sensitive, or you develop an ingrown toenail


Preventing Onychomycosis Infections

Luckily, we have simple and effective ways to prevent fungal toenail infections. First, protect your nails from trauma. Because, after an injury, openings are more likely to form around the nail, creating an opening through which fungus can enter and infect your nails or skin.

Also, keeping your feet clean and covered can go a long way toward preventing infection. Be sure to wash your feet, and the spots between your toes, regularly. Use  soap with warm water, and don't forget to dry the foot completely afterward.

When you're heading to the gym, the pool or to any public place with shared, wet surfaces, never go barefoot. These moist, high traffic areas are where fungus loves to live. So covering up your feet, even with flip flops, can create a protective barrier.

Now, not all shoes will offer equal protection. You see, we want your footwear to have some breathability. Otherwise, your feet will sweat. And that sweat will create a warm, moist environment inside your shoes. (Exactly the kind that fungus loves, remember?) If that happens, and you don't give your shoes an anti-fungal treatment, you'll increase your risk for toe nail fungus, and athlete's foot, every time you put those shoes on.

How can you stick with supportive shoes, without risking a fungal infection? We suggest letting shoes rest for 24 hours between wearings. Also, you may want to swap out your socks mid-day. Especially if your feet tend to sweat a lot. Finally, choose athletic socks that pull moisture away from your feet. That way, even if you do sweat, your feet won't get damp and sweaty. And you won't increase your toe nail fungus risk.

Nail Trimming and Fungal Infections: Is there a Connection?  two pairs of nail scissors

As it turns out, the answer to this question is a resounding yes! When you trim those toenails, improper form can lead to trouble. First, tim straight across, leaving a bit visible white nail. Also, nail scissors have to be cleaned regularly (and never shared among family members. To be safe, taking rubbing alcohol and soap to your pair about once a month, giving them a good rub. And, for extra caution, use different scissors for finger nails and toenails. With some luck, your care and precaution will keep fungus away from your feet. But if you run into trouble, we're here to help!

Diagnosing and Treating Toenail Fungus in Powder Springs, GA

Usually, we can diagnose onychomycosis with a physical exam. In some cases, we may need to test a sample of your nail to figure out the exact source of your infection. (That can help us choose the proper treatment plan.) And, here in our Lost Mountain, GA podiatry practice, we have several effective treatment options to help you clear up toenail fungus.

Some patients want to clear their infections with medication. And we can offer both topical and oral prescriptions for toenail fungus. But we're most excited about treating toenail fungus with our in-office laser. And that's because this option is both highly effective and pain free. So our patients get great results, often sooner than they would with other treatment options.

What is Toe Nail Fungus? A Pesky Infection That We Can Put in Your Rear View Mirror!

Clearly, toe nail fungus is a very contagious type of infection. It's caused by microscopic fungus particles that sneak into your body through even tiny openings. With proper nail and foot care, we may be able to prevent onychomycosis. Both good footwear and good hygiene can also help protect your nails. Still, there are times when we just can't avoid toe nail fungus. So, when infections occur, it's very important to get an early diagnosis and prompt treatment. Those two efforts can make a big difference in the speed of your recovery.

If you've noticed changes to your nail's shape, color or texture, now's the time to take action. If you suspect you have a fungal nail infection, make an immediate appointment with Dr. Alvin Cowans. In our office, we can clear up your infection and restore the healthy appearance of your nail so you don't have to cover up any more!




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