Fungal infections are a common reason for visits to the podiatrist’s office. They occur when a fungus begins to grow in a fingernail, a toenail, or the nail bed. These infections are unattractive but harmless for most patients if treated promptly. However, they can cause lasting damage if left untreated and can be serious for patients with compromised immune systems or chronic illnesses like diabetes.
Causes and Symptoms
A wide range of yeasts, molds, and fungi can infect nails and nail beds. Many infections are caused by t. mentagrophytes, which is the same type of fungus that causes athlete's foot. Others are caused by other strains including t. rubrum. Germs and bacteria can enter your body in numerous ways. Those that prefer to settle in the feet easily make their way inside through small cuts in the skin near your nails.
If your nails are turning yellow or white, becoming unusually thick, crumbling and/or splitting, or separating from the skin, you may have a fungal nail infection. You may notice that you have difficulty walking or standing for long periods of time. An infection can make it uncomfortable to wear shoes. Spreading or growth of the infection may be noticeable.
Prevention and Treatment
Fungi grow best in warm, moist places and are highly contagious. Prevent infections by wearing shoes in public places such as showers, locker rooms, and pools. Please take note of the following prevention guidelines from Dr. James M. McKee:
- Don’t share personal items such as razors, towels, and nail clippers, even with friends or family members.
- Treat athlete’s foot promptly and completely, as the fungus can quickly and easily spread from your skin to your nails.
- Bring your own tools when you go to the nail salon for a pedicure.
If you suspect that you have a fungal nail infection, it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Eventually, the infection can permanently damage your nail or nail bed. With years of specialized training and experience, your podiatrist is the most qualified medical professional for the job. A podiatrist can determine whether or not you have a fungal infection and then work with you to decide on an effective course of treatment.
James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS is a foot care specialist with decades of experience. He treats patients with fungal nail infections every week and can help you with state of the art treatment options including laser therapy for toenail fungus. Call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 or click here to make an appointment at our comfortable and convenient office on Solomons Island Road.