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Fungal Nail Infection Treatment

Fungal nail (onychomycosis) can cause a significant amount of distress for the patient suffering it. For some, they can be a cause of embarrassment, and in some instance can be painful.

Fungal nails usually occur as a result of an infection of fungal organisms known as dermatophytes. These organisms can be contracted environmentally. Warm, moist environments create an excellent atmosphere for breeding fungus, which is why they may be more prevalent in swimming pools, bathrooms, and locker rooms. It also may explain why it is more common to have toenails infected compared to fingernails; footwear create that warm, moist environment. Fungal nails may also be associated with a tinea infection of the foot, or may come about after the nail suffers damage.

Fungal nails are more common in the older population, and there is a higher prevalence with people that have a reduced immune function.

Fungal nails can be treated in a variety of ways. Topical treatments can be purchased over the counter at the chemist. These treatments are painted on at regular intervals, and typically soak into the nail over time to attack the fungal organism.

In more severe cases, oral tablets may be required to help the body fight off the infection. A sample of the infected nail may be required prior to obtaining a prescription for oral medication. This sample can be collected by your podiatrist or your GP, and will be used to confirm and infection and determine the type of medication that will be best to treat your nails. A discussion with your GP will be needed to obtain the prescription for the medication. Your GP will also need to determine medical suitability as some of the oral medications can have significant side effects in some people.

Recently laser treatments have become available, however the precise effectiveness of these treatments is not completely known.

Unfortunately to date no treatment is known to be 100% effective. The chances of success relies on many factors, including the type of organism being treated, the immune system of the patient, the amount of infection, the type of treatment, and the length of time that treatment is upheld.

Regardless of the treatment method, it is important to note that any healing will take quite some time. This is due to the fact that most treatments are designed to stop the growth of the fungal organisms in the nails, but not designed to repair the damage done to the nail. As such the nail is required to grow out before evidence of healing will begin to show. As an estimate, this can take between 6 to 12 months. As a result, it is quite common for people to become relaxed with their regular treatments, or to stop entirely.

Prior to commencing any treatment, it is recommended to have the nails safely trimmed and filed to remove as much of the infected nail as possible. This will allow for the best penetration of any medication. Your podiatrist can help you to trim back and file the nails, collect samples for pathology, and advise on the best methods to treat your nails.