Toenail fungus is an infection caused by the bacteria trichophyton and dermatophytes. It causes your toenail to become yellow, opaque, thick, and brittle. Toenail infections aren’t painful, but are unattractive and can spread easily.
Athletes and anyone who goes barefoot in public pools, locker rooms, or showers are at risk of picking up an infection. Similarly, if you have pedicures in a place that doesn’t use sterile tools, you put yourself at risk. The infection typically enters through a crack or break in your toenail.
Like most fungi, the infection thrives in warm, moist environments. When you wear socks and shoes, your toes are warm and sweat doesn’t evaporate easily, creating the perfect environment for the infection to grow.
In addition to walking around barefoot in damp places like pools and showers, there are other factors that can increase your risk of picking up a toenail infection.
For example, athletes are often at risk because of the sweaty shoes and socks they wear and because their toenails are often damaged during training and competitions. Older people are also at risk because their toenails grow more slowly. Conditions like diabetes or immune conditions may also increase your risk.
There are a variety of treatments available for toenail fungus. Dr. Grogan examines your infected toenails carefully before making a suggestion. If your infection is mild a topical medication may clear it. If your toenail fungus is more advanced, oral antifungal medications are often prescribed. Laser therapy is another treatment used to target and destroy the infection to clear your nails.
While anyone can contract a fungal toenail infection, you can take steps to protect yourself.
Throughout treatment, you won’t be able to wear nail polish, as tempting as it may be to hide your yellow, thick nails. You need to keep your feet clean and dry and Dr. Grogan may suggest an antibacterial soap.
If you have symptoms of toenail fungus, call or make an appointment online to start treatment as soon as possible.