Fungal toenails (onychomycosis) can present differently for each individual. It can include the presence or absence of smell, discolouration, and altered appearance of the nail. The infection affects the nail bed (skin underneath the nail) or nail plate (the surface nail), often causing it to become thickened and raised. Commonly, patient's see their nail become crumbly. Fungal nails often affect more then one nail, and happen more prevalently in individuals with persistent moisture in/near their feet. Fungus tends to like warm, dark, wet places.
Treatment of the fungal nail usually requires regular reduction of the nail with an ongoing prescription of an anti fungal.
Laser treatment is another alternative we offer at the Waterloo Foot Clinic. Fungi colonize the nail plate, bed, and matrix, leading to discolouration of the nail, thickening of the subungual region. The energy delivered by the Genesis laser penetrates the nail plate to selectively target the internalized fungus without causing damage to the rest of the nail, nor the surrounding tissue. The treatment is quick, efficient and can be done during regular appointment times including during an initial consultation. Fungus can usually be cleared up in 2-4 treatments with continual use of a topical anti fungal.
After the fungus is cleared up the nail will grow back healthy and sightly within a year with results appearing after about 3 months.
Treatment for fungal nails can be difficult because the nail plate can protect the fungus from being exposed to medication – this is why regular reduction is required. Oral medication is not usually considered a viable option due to the toxicity effects on the liver. In some cases, the infection may be so severe that surgery is required to remove the nail. Early prevention is key in the quick recovery of a fungal nail. Do not hesitate to see a Chiropodist / Foot Specialist.
Without treatment the nail will become very thick, discoloured and unsightly – it may appear as though the infection is moving up the nail closer to the base of the toe. In some cases, the nail may be painful and further infection may result. Fungus may also spread to surrounding skin and other parts of the body.