All types of fungal infection can be distressing for sufferers. When any type of nail fungus occurs, it can be a complicated or often misinterpreted issue. When sandal season looms, this is one of the more common issues that the feet can endure. Often times, the usual reaction is to hide the feet and cover the toes with some type of polish, or even a generic anti-fungal nail treatment. However, it’s crucial that a proper diagnosis from a board-certified dermatologist is made before taking any type of treatment measures.
A board-certified dermatologist Shari Lipper, MD, PhD states, “Although nail fungus is the most common nail disorder that dermatologists treat, not every nail problem is caused by fungus, and there are several other conditions that may look similar, including nail psoriasis and nail trauma.” She sees this type of misstep often and wants individuals to know that treating something as a fungus, that may not be, can actually make the condition much worse.
It’s also imperative not to ignore specific signs that may present themselves. When symptoms go unchecked, the fungus can potentially spread and worsen to the point of causing serious pain or issues. It is a huge misconception that nail fungus only exists as an aesthetic or cosmetic issue. It can be very serious and interfere with your foot’s overall function.
Signs And Symptoms
There are many signs that come with the presence of nail fungus. One of the predominate ones is the lifting of the nail away from the skin. Any type of discoloration of the nail can also be a huge indicator that there is a fungus problem. The two colors most often seen in nail fungus cases are white or yellow. Nails that are plagued with fungus can also show other signs of becoming thick and hard and may be impossible to cut. Another sign of fungus can exist in the complete opposite realm as nail thinning which leads to the splitting or crumbling of the nail.
If you start to notice any type of inconsistent or peculiar nail symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment to see a dermatologist right away. This is even more crucial if you have any type of underlying conditions that can potentially affect feet such as poor circulation, a weakened immune system or diabetes.
The diagnostic process that a dermatologist will employ to confirm it is nail fungus can vary. Sometimes it is as simple as a test run that will show if any type of fungus is present. Depending on the severity of the fungus, the doctor will then prescribe topical or oral medications. For the more serious bouts of nail fungus, oral medication can sometimes be the best route. For those who ignore their issue and don’t get proper treatment, the fungus can get so bad that topical treatments don’t work well to completely kill the fungi.
Oral medications take anywhere from six weeks to three months to completely eradicate the toenail fungus. Topical options can take much longer than that. This is because the oral medications work from the inside out while topical medication can only work by properly penetrating the issue. There is also the option of laser procedures, however, this method is typically only used to improve the cosmetic outlay of the nail.