Also called onychomycosis, toenail fungus is called athlete’s foot when it affects the skin of your feet. It’s a common condition that typically begins as white or yellow spots at the tip of a toenail. It may affect a single toe or several. As the fungus penetrates deeper, the nail thickens, changes color and starts crumbling along the top edge of the nail.
Cases range from mild to severe, and if it doesn’t bother you, treatment may not be needed. However, advanced cases can become painful, and there are treatments that may improve the condition. Even after a treatment is successful, fungus can recur at a later time. Untreated, severe fungal infections may permanently damage your nail or spread infections to other parts of the body.
The most common nail fungus is called dermatophyte, but other fungi, yeasts, and molds can cause nail infections. Nails change as you get older, becoming dry and brittle, with small cracks and cavities. These weak spots give fungal infections a place to take hold. While a fungal infection may spread from one of your toes to a neighboring toe, it’s not commonly spread between people.
There are other factors besides age that may increase your risk of developing toenail fungus. These include:
Topical ointments would seem suited for toenail application, but the fungal infection often penetrates more deeply than the ointments can. Still, you may be one of the lucky ones on whom over-the-counter treatments work.
Dr. Rosen may prescribe oral antifungal medications. While these options are generally more effective than topical treatments, they still take months to clear the fungal infection. These medications also have side effects and complications that may limit who can use them.
Dr. Rosen also uses the PinPointe™ FootLaser™ for treating nail fungus. Since the fungus itself is hard to reach, the penetrating nature of laser light targets the fungus without harming the skin, nails and other tissues of your foot. The fungus dies off as it’s warmed during the 30-minute treatments, permitting the nail to grow out -- clear and fungus-free. The procedure is pain-free and requires no time for recovery, so you can return to your daily life immediately after treatment.