Suppose your high school swimmer came home with strange white spots on their toenails or your diabetic mother is worried about her yellow, flaky toenails. Toenail fungus often starts with small white spots and then yellows the nail as it spreads.
While toenail fungus can be embarrassing, foul-smelling, and painful, there’s no need to rush to the emergency room. Fungal infections can spread to other nails, though, so it’s best to make an appointment with a podiatrist as soon as possible to find a cure or to explore laser treatment options. Let’s review the common causes, symptoms, and treatment methods below.
Not sure if you or a loved one has toenail fungus? Talk to a podiatrist at Arizona Foot Doctors about your concerns.
What causes toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus infection, also called onychomycosis (on-ih-koh-my-KOH-sis), occurs when fungi get under the nail and thrive in the damp environment of the nail bed. Often associated with athlete’s foot, toenail fungus is common in those who sweat heavily, frequent damp environments like swimming pools, walk around barefoot, or have weakened immune systems.
What are the signs of toenail fungus?
Symptoms of toenail fungus you might notice include:
- White or yellow spots at the tip of the toenail
- Discolored or yellow toenail
- Brittle or flaky nail
- Foul smells
The average person might not notice the toenail fungus developing in the early stages of spots, but the infection will become apparent as the fungus grows. It’s important to take preventative measures to avoid a toenail fungus infection or to stop the fungi from thriving in the nail bed.
How to prevent toenail fungus
Toenail fungus thrives in damp environments. The best way to prevent a toenail fungus infection is to keep your feet as dry and maintained as possible. From cleaning your toenail clippers with alcohol after each use to wearing wicking socks when you exercise and more, there are several prevention methods for toenail fungus:
- Regularly clean and dry your feet. Using soap and a fluffy towel, regularly wash your feet and dry them thoroughly. Clip your nails straight across and dip your clippers in alcohol before moving on to the next toe.
- Change your socks and disinfect your shoes. Change socks and hosiery daily to avoid the buildup of fungi. Disinfect or replace your shoes at regular intervals.
- Wear shower shoes in public spaces. Summer is the time of public pools, swim meets, and lake vacations. Make sure you wear water shoes to prevent picking up this fungus from public spaces.
- Wear wicking socks. “Wicking” socks or “moisture-wicking” socks are made from synthetic materials that absorb the moisture from sweat and keep your feet dry. You can find these socks in common retail stores for the same price as regular socks.
- Pamper yourself with foot baths. Ready to indulge with a foot bath? Add a ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to the basin or tub to keep your feet extra healthy.
How to treat toenail fungus
Even after taking extra care with your feet, you may pick up the fungus from a public space. What are your options? In mild cases of toenail fungus, you can treat the infected area at home by applying topical remedies or taking oral medication:
- Penlac nail lacquer. A common topical medication is Penlac nail lacquer. Apply it once a day at bedtime to the entire surface area of the infected nail, underside of the nail, and skin surrounding the nail. Penlac nail lacquer requires a prescription. Check with your insurance provider for cost and coverage.
- Lamisil cream or tablets. Lamisil cream must be applied twice a day to a clean and dried area. Lamisil cream is available over the counter for an average price of $20.00 in the U.S. at most local pharmacies. Lamisil tablets are only available by prescription.
- Sporanox tablets. Sporanox is an oral medication taken once or twice daily, depending on a physician’s prescription.
Can you cure toenail fungus with a laser?
For toenail fungus infections that have progressed to a discolored and flaky nail, you may choose to address them with debridement (removal of diseased nail matter and debris) or permanent removal if the medication did not work.
At Arizona Foot Doctors, we offer laser toenail treatment for removal of diseased nail matter. This painless, 30-minute procedure is clinically designed to go straight through the nail to treat the toenail fungus infection. The treatment requires no recovery time. You can walk away from your appointment and get on with your busy day. It can be the perfect solution if you want to clear up the infection within a short amount of time. Have an upcoming obligation such as a swim meet or wedding? Make an appointment today to decide if curing toenail fungus with laser removal is the right choice for you.
Schedule an appointment
So, can you cure toenail fungus with a laser? The simple answer is yes; however, it requires a doctor’s visit to determine if this is the best intervention for you. When in doubt, it’s best to seek medical attention to get a diagnosis. To seek toenail fungus laser treatment near Scottsdale, Arizona, book an appointment online with Arizona Foot Doctors to get expert advice about your treatment options. With our vast experience in podiatry, Arizona Foot Doctors is a practice you can trust.