Fungal Nail, or Onychomycosis, is surprisingly common. It is caused by an invasion of fungal species (Tinea Unguium) beneath the nail. This condition develops over time.
Can I get a fungal nail infection?
- Fungal nail infections can infect up to 8% of the general population.
- It can affect anyone.
- Risk of infection increases by 30% if you are an adult, rather than a child.
- Up to 90% of people over 70 years of age suffer from Onychomycosis, the medical term for Fungal Nail Infection.
Fungal Nail Infection is more common in people who have an immunosuppression illness. Those living with Diabetes and other conditions that affect the body’s response to infections are more susceptible to fungal infection.
Other risk factors for Fungal Nail Infection are living in a warm, humid environment. A previous injury or trauma to your toenail will allow the fungal spores to enter the nail. Athlete’s Foot Infection (Tinea) also increases the risk of Fungal Nail Infection.
Nail infections can be caught through cross-contamination. Using nail files and nail clippers that have not been thoroughly sterilised for example. Using the same equipment without first being sterilized can pass on the infection. Infection from pedicures, both within the UK and overseas are common. So, beware of that “luxury spa treatment” whilst on holiday, as it may prove to have long-lasting problems if instruments are not properly sterilized. You will certainly be at risk of catching a fungal nail infection from receiving a pedicure where sterilization of equipment isn’t enforced between customers.
At We Fix Feet, we rigorously enforce decontamination and sterilisation procedures. All instruments are cleaned and chemically disinfected within an ultrasonic bath before being sterilised. Sterilisation takes place using best-practice standards by autoclave at 134º centigrade.
What are the effects of a fungal nail infection?
Fungal infections of the toenail are unsightly. The nail changes colour (white/yellow/brown, spots and lines). The nail can thicken, become brittle and break away.
Because of these unsightly effects, often people with fungal nail infections don’t like to expose their toes because of their appearance. You may fear people will see the nail or judge you for having an infection. We often find that patients coming to us for the first time commonly cover up their toenails with enclosed shoes to hide them. In hot weather, this can be uncomfortable, and promote the growth of the fungus in the hot humid environment.
Although covering the nail with polish may improve the appearance in the short term, it results in sealing the infection in. This can also promote the growth of the fungus and for this reason, we do not recommend the long-term wearing of nail polish or gel nails.
Fungal toenails can be painful, as the nail becomes uneven and raised it creates pressure on the nail bed. Sometimes the infection invades the skin of the toe, which can cause local inflammation and pain.
It’s can be difficult to care for your own nails if you are suffering from a fungal nail infection, due to the thickness of the nail, the brittleness, and the splitting. An ingrown toenail may result if not cut correctly.
Resolving a nail infection can improve your confidence and sense of wellbeing. You will be able to return to wearing open shoes and be free of discomfort and pain.
What treatment is there for fungal nail infection?
Fungal toenail infections can be caused by a number of different strains of fungus and yeasts. Medical conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, circulation problems, and injury to the nail can look like a fungal infection. It is important to correctly identify that there is an infection in the nail prior to treatment. At We Fix Feet, our clinicians are experienced at examining nails and assessing if a nail infection is present.
Are there any quick fixes for a fungal nail infection?
If the nail infection is found very early on, our clinicians can cut back or thin the infected nail and advise a treatment to keep the rest of the nail from becoming infected. The infected part of the nail is trimmed and filed away. This improves appearances immediately.
At We Fix Feet, we also offer our Nail Reconstruction service, which for special occasions, or just whilst your nail is re-growing can provide a fast and effective medical aesthetic treatment for Fungal Nail Infection.
What are the long-term treatments?
In most cases, we as clinicians do not see the nail until the infection is entrenched and the patient feels the need for professional treatment. In these cases, our Chiropodists, Podiatrists, and Foot Health Practitioners will still need to cut and file away as much of the infected (mycotic) nail as possible. This will allow a treatment to be applied and to reach the active areas.
Topical treatment will take 3 – 12 months. This is because the infected and damaged nail does not heal, but instead needs to grow out. Oral medicines (tablets) are also used for the treatment of fungal nails. It is important that they are correctly diagnosed before taking the treatment, and the patient is monitored for side effects to the oral prescribed medications. Here at We Fix Feet, we prefer to treat the fungal nail topically, without the risk of side effects from taking oral medications.
Our PACT Treatment or PBM Therapy and Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) can reduce the time for healthy nail growth to show and provide an excellent choice of treatment for patients wanting faster results.
The end results of treatment
Your nails may not always return to normal appearance after treatment. This is because permanent damage to the nail cells may have occurred while the infection was present. The appearance of the nails can be enhanced with regular care of the nails once the infection is cured.
How do I prevent a fungal nail infection?
Prevention of nail infection is certainly much better than treatment.
- Skin and nail fungal infections should be treated promptly.
- Replace old shoes and socks that may contain spores. We also recommend bringing your shoes to us for our Klenz service.
- Beauty pedicures should be avoided if standards for sterilisation haven’t been followed.
- If you think you have a fungal infection of the toenails, don’t share nail clippers and files, or attend for pedicures, as you could spread the infection.
- Visit We Fix Feet – footcare clinics in Beeston or Ilkeston for professional treatment of your fungal nails.