What is a fungal nail?
A fungal nail is an infection characterized by a change in the toenail's color, thickness, and quality. It may cause pain and difficulty in walking. Studies estimate that fungal nail infections affect three to five percent of the population. However, podiatric physicians believe that because so many cases go unreported, the incidence is much higher.
CAUSES OF FUNGAL NAILS
- Often, the infection starts in the skin as athlete's foot, which may spread to the nails.
- Shoes and socks create a warm, dark, and humid environment which encourages fungal growth.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Keep shoes and socks dry as a preventative measure.
- Practice good foot hygiene, including daily washing of the feet with soap and water; drying feet carefully, especially between the toes; changing shoes regularly; and wearing wicking acrylic or cotton socks.
WHAT WILL A PODIATRIC PHYSICIAN DO FOR YOU?
- Perform a physical examination.
- Culture the infected nail.
- Prescribe appropriate medications.
- Perform debridement or removal of the nail as indicated.