close-up of big toenail with fungal infectionWhat is that discoloration and foul odor coming from your toenails? There’s a good chance you have toenail fungus.

Toenail fungus is a very unwelcome visitor. Unfortunately, by the time most people know it’s there, it has already had plenty of time to build a home underneath your nails. A toenail fungal infection is caused by a fungus called onychomycosis. When this fungus grows on the skin between your toes, it’s called athlete’s foot.

Common Symptoms of Toenail Fungus

If you notice any of these symptoms on your toenails, you most likely have toenail fungus:

  • Thickened and discolored nails (often white, yellow, or brownish in hue)
  • Brittle nails
  • Unusually shaped nails (distorted or jagged)
  • A foul odor from the nails
  • Nails that are separated from the nail bed

But these symptoms don’t start immediately. A fungal nail infection often begins by looking just like a small white spot or streak on the nail. It can be difficult at this point to tell whether it is toenail fungus or just a nick against the nail, but it’s important to keep track of it. If it starts to grow or change in shape, give our offices a call to get it checked out.

If you suspect you have toenail fungus, you can try at-home treatments with over-the-counter medications. But if that doesn’t work, it’s a good idea to come and see our podiatrists since toenail fungus may spread to the skin between your toes and your other toenails. It may even spread to other members of your family.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that other conditions have similar symptoms to toenail fungus. For this reason, our doctors will evaluate your toenails completely to confirm that toenail fungus is your problem. This ensures that you will get the best possible treatment for the nail problem you are having.

When Do I Need to See a Podiatrist?

For most people, you will know it’s time to schedule an appointment with one of our podiatrists when you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty walking

Remember that the earlier you notice toenail fungus and have it treated, the easier and quicker the treatment is. If you have diabetes, don’t wait for additional symptoms. You need to see our podiatrists as soon as you notice the signs of toenail fungus. That’s because you’re more likely to suffer from a dangerous infection.

Can Toenail Fungus Spread?

Unfortunately, yes. While it is not heavily contagious, toenail fungus can transfer to other areas of the body—and to other people. In fact, since the same type of fungus that invades your toenails can also cause athlete’s foot, having either infection can lead to the other.

Additionally, behaviors such as regularly touching fungal nails or sharing clippers between your toenails and fingernails could lead to the fungus growing in your fingernails as well. So, keep your toenail trimmers exclusive to your toenails, and make sure to wash your hands as soon as possible after touching infected nails.

What Are the Treatment Options?

The good news is that there are several effective treatments for toenail fungus. These include:

  • Oral antifungal medications. Antifungal pills usually take about six to twelve weeks to work. A new fungal-free nail grows out until the infected nail is gone.
  • Antifungal cream or nail polish. You apply antifungal creams and nail polish to your nails. But the fungus grows under your nails, and sometimes, these topical agents don’t reach the infection. That means they’re less effective than antifungal pills.
  • Surgery. Some podiatrists prefer surgical removal of the nail so you can apply the antifungal medication directly to the infected area.
  • Laser treatment. Since this is the 21st century, there is, of course, a treatment that is better than surgery—laser therapy!

Lunula Laser treatment

How Does the LunulaLaser® Treatment Treat Toenail Fungus?

Lunula laser machineNo toenail fungus treatment is perfect, but studies show the LunulaLaser® method works 90% of the time. And unlike oral medication, laser treatments have no side effects. Laser treatments pass through the nail to reach the fungus—without damaging the nail. These treatments are pain-free.

Our laser treatment system works by attacking the fungus directly with light energy that is capable of going through nail tissue—and that is without any destruction to your nails or skin, any smoke, or any pain!

Most patients need four 12-minute laser treatments over a few weeks to eradicate the fungus. The full number of sessions may be higher or lower, depending on the severity of your condition. For each treatment, you will have no downtime or discomfort, and you can return to your day as planned right after your appointment. There is no preparation and no aftercare necessary for each session. Just come in, receive the treatment, and be on your way without any discomfort!

What Should I Expect From Fungal Nail Treatment?

Fungal toenails are very, very stubborn. There is no form of treatment that will work 100% of the time. That said, however, LunulaLaser® has been proven nearly 90% effective in clinical trials, which ranks it highly among other methods of treatment.

Additionally, getting fungal nail treatment does not mean your nails will instantly look better. Even when the fungus is fully eradicated, the damage it left behind will remain until new nails grow out to replace the old. This can take time.

Whatever your case may be, though, you have nothing to gain by delaying fungal nail treatment! The longer you wait, the more challenging your situation may be to clear up—but not impossible.

Get Rid of Pesky Fungal Nails

Toenail fungus can hit anyone at any age and become extremely difficult to remove. At Third Coast Foot and Ankle, we are happy to help everyone in your family keep their skin and nails healthy. Call either of our area offices to schedule an appointment. In Oak Creek, call (414) 764-4500, and in New Berlin, call (262) 821-1588. If you prefer, you can also fill out our online contact form to reach us electronically, and one of our staff will reach out to you during our regular business hours.

Do not put off getting your nails back! You bring the nails, and we’ll fix them for you!