Many patients come to our Hales Corner podiatrist office seeking treatment for conditions that cause pain or impaired foot function. In addition to these kinds of issues, though, Dr. Andrew Marso also provides care for a range of toenail and skin conditions. These include ingrown toenails, cracked heels, and plantar warts. Another nail condition that tends to be quite common is toenail fungus.
Fungal nails are one of the most common infections Dr. Andrew Marso treats here at Wisconsin Foot Center. Now, this might not seem important—since it’s a fairly superficial issue—but this condition can cause embarrassment, make you uncomfortable and self-conscious, and cut into your quality of life. Further, any infection (fungal, bacterial, or viral) can become a major problem if you have diabetes. Our goal is to provide the most advanced treatment to eradicate the fungal infection and restore your nails back to their clear, healthy selves.
Fungal Toenail Symptoms and Causes
Recognizing a case of nail fungus (onychomycosis) is your first step in being able to receive the treatment you need to resolve the problem. The most obvious symptom for toenail fungus is the discoloration of your nail tissues. Other symptoms to be aware of include toenails that are:
- Darkened in color, which is often attributed to debris collecting under the nail
- Dull in appearance, lacking the shine of healthy nail tissue
- Emitting a funky odor (more often in the case of severe infections)
- Ragged, brittle, or crumbly
- Separated from the nailbed
- Thickened and/or distorted in shape
So you may ask yourself, what is the root cause of toenail fungus? The source of the infection is a dermatophyte fungus. Fungal spores are natural and actually found all around us, but they tend to be even more common in warm, moist places like swimming pool decks, gym locker rooms, and communal showers.
This particular microscopic organism does not need sunlight to survive. What it does need, however, is an environment that is warm and damp. Given that feet utilize hundreds of thousands of sweat glands to keep skin moist—and are often enveloped in socks and shoes—conditions are ripe for fungus to thrive. Further, the microscopic size of these organisms means it only takes a very minor scrape, cut, or even a tiny separation between the nailbed and corresponding toenail to enter and cause an infection.
Treating Fungal Nails
Fungal nail infections do not go away on their own. Left untreated, the stubborn infection will continue to worsen over time. If you recognize the symptoms, it’s time to contact our office and have Dr. Andrew Marso create a treatment plan for you.
When it comes to treating fungal toenails, there are three different options:
- Oral medication – Antifungal pills can be used to attack the fungus from the inside out. It is important to note that oral medications can sometimes come with undesirable side effects.
- Topical medication – This medication is applied to the surface of infected toenails, which means it’s not ideal for reaching fungal spores residing underneath the nails.
- Laser treatment – Not only is this the newest method for clearing up fungal infections, it is also the most effective. Our laser treatment for fungal nails is FDA-approved and performed in our office. After the session is over, roughly 15-20 minutes, you can walk out the front door and carry on with your normal daily activities.
A multifaceted approach is best, since toenail fungus tends to be stubborn, and a difficult to clear infection. To that end, Wisconsin Foot Center is pleased to offer a package deal that combines all three treatments for optimal effectiveness.
Fungal Toenail Prevention
We are certainly able to provide the fungal nail treatment you need, but our patients typically prefer to avoid the condition altogether. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk and, even better, they are not particularly difficult or complicated. These include:
- Keep your feet dry.
- Wash your feet daily with soap and water.
- Keep your nails properly trimmed.
- Wear socks that wick away moisture.
- Choose footwear that allows your feet to breathe.
- Wear shower shoes or sandals in locker rooms, public showering areas, and on pool decks.
- Be careful when visiting nail salons.
- Use antifungal powder or spray in your shoes.
Top Fungal Toenail Care in Southeastern Wisconsin
This common fungal infection is embarrassing, unsightly, and even poses a potential risk to diabetic individuals, but the good news is that Dr. Andrew Marso can treat it for you.
We take pride in providing exceptional podiatric services for all our patients from across the greater Milwaukee community. For additional information, or to request an appointment with Wisconsin Foot Center, simply call (414) 425-8400 and our staff will be glad to help.
"Feel Good Feet: A User's Guide to Foot & Ankle Health"