One of the more common nail conditions, toe fungus is a mold that thrives in moist, dark environments such as the inside of a shoe. Fungal infections are usually painless, but if left untreated, can result in serious health problems.
Fungus comes in several forms:
- Onychomycosis may result in a secondary bacterial and/or yeast infection around the nail plate. Ultimately, the infected nail may grow brittle, loosen, or even crumble away.
- Dermophytes targets the nail’s protein substance, or keratin. This form often results in thick, dark nails that emit a foul smell. Debris collects beneath the nail plate, while white marks mar its surface.
- Athlete’s Foot often lurks in places where people go barefoot, such as public showers or pools. Common symptoms include itching, inflammation, scales or even boils, which first appear between the toes or on the arch.
Fungal infections may result from ill-fitting shoes, or socks made from materials that prevent the foot from “breathing.” Sometimes the humidity level in the environment also encourages the growth of fungus. Other possible causes could be a weakened immune system (such as that caused by diabetes) or a prior nail injury.
Patients suffering from fungal infections have many options for treatment. Dr. Marso may prescribe:
- Topical or oral medications.
- Special medicated foot soaks.
- Debridement (wound cleaning).
Dr. Marso also frequently recommends a procedure called PinPointe Laser, which penetrates the nail to treat fungus directly. In the severest cases, he may elect surgery to remove the infected nail completely.