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Fungal Toenail Infections

Fungal toenail infections can cause a significant amount of distress for the patients. For some, they can be a cause of embarrassment, and in some instance can be painful.

Cause of Fungal Toenail Infections

Fungal toenail infections are usually caused by fungal organisms known as dermatophytes. These organisms are present in low numbers on our skin and occasionally in the environment. Infection usually occurs in warm and moist environments, footwear is an example of the perfect environment. Fungal toenails are also be associated with a tinea infection of the foot. They can also arise about after the nail suffers damage, providing a portal of entry for infection.

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

Treatment of Fungal Toenail Infections

There are a variety of ways fungal toenail infections are treated. Topical treatments are available for purchase over the counter at the chemist. Topical treatments are applied at regular intervals, and typically soak into the nail over time to attack the fungal organism.

In severe cases, oral tablets are required to help the body fight off the infection. A sample of the infected nail is required prior to obtaining a prescription for oral medication. This sample is collected by your podiatrist or your GP, and is used to confirm the organism responsible.  This helps to find the right medication to treat your nails. A GP will write the appropriate prescription for the medication. Your GP will also need to determine medical suitability as some of the oral medications have significant side effects.

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

To date no treatment for fungal toenail infection is 100% effective. The chance of success relies on several 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.

How long do fungal nail infections take to  clear?

Regardless of the treatment method, it is important to note that any healing will take quite some time. This is because the majority of 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. This means the nail needs to grow out before evidence of healing will begin to show and this can take between 6 to 12 months. One reason fungal toenail infections do not clear is patients do not follow through with the treatment plan and treatment fails.

Prior to commencing any treatment we recommended you have your 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. Call us today on 3352 5116 or book online and get your toenails back on track.