Summer is sandal season, which means coordinating trendy styles with the perfect shade of polish or simply letting your toes enjoy the fresh air after months of confinement. Unless you suffer from Onychomycosis—a dastardly fungal infection that causes thickened, brittle, crumbly, or ragged toenails that you’d much rather hide in a pair of socks and shoes.
Onychomycosis can be picked up by anyone (although older men are the group most affected by the condition), usually when walking barefoot around swimming pools, hot tubs, gym locker rooms, and any dark and damp place where fungus thrives. The first sign of infection is a white or yellow spot appearing underneath the tip of the nail, which quickly thickens and distorts the nail as it progresses.
Fortunately, there are several treatments available for toenail fungus, although effectiveness and treatment time vary.
Medication remains the most popular remedy for toenail fungus, although these treatments usually take a significant amount of time to work. There are three main types of medication:
- Oral antifungal drugs – Taken for 6 to 12 weeks, these drugs help new, infection-free toenails grow to replace the infected ones, but they come with a host of possible side effects ranging from skin rash to liver damage.
- Medicated nail cream – Antifungal creams work best in conjunction with nail-thinning creams, which help the medication get to the fungus through the hard nail surface. Still, because the fungus lives in dead tissue, getting medication to the affected area is difficult, and ineffective application can result in an even longer treatment period.
- Medicated nail polish – After painting medicated nail polish on the infected nails and surrounding skin every day for a week, you’ll wipe the layers clean and start over, repeating the process for up to a year. However, the effective rate of this treatment isn’t impressive—as low as 10% by some estimates.
If a nail infection is severe or extremely painful, your doctor might suggest removing the toenail entirely and starting fresh. A new nail will grow in place of the removed nail, which can take as long as a year. Often, surgery is paired with medication treatment to heal the nail bed and surrounding tissues while the new nail grows, but surgery is always a serious undertaking, and permanent removal of the nail can sometimes result in a disfigured appearance.
Advancements in laser technology now offer a safe, pain free, effective way to eliminate nail fungus with no harmful side effects. Laser fungus treatments use heat and light to absorb through the nail and kill the underlying fungus, and the sessions take about 30 minutes on average to complete. Once the fungus is destroyed in both the nail and nail bed, the tissue is revitalized to encourage new, healthy nail growth. While most patients show visible new growth within three months, it can take up to 6 to 12 months for full regrowth. However, no additional treatment or medication is necessary—just patience.
Any treatment you choose must be paired with precautions to prevent fungal infections in the future:
- Wear waterproof sandals at swimming pools and other public areas involving water
- Clip toenails straight across and make sure they’re always shorter than the tips of your toes
- Wear synthetic fabric socks (they’ll wick away moisture better than cotton or wool)
- Avoid situations in which your feet are wet for long periods of time
Laser treatment is the best way to get rid toenail fungus!
At Siti Med Spa in San Diego, patients who opt for laser treatment of toenail fungus typically show substantial improvement, and in most cases report being completely cured. If you’re interested in getting your toes sandal-ready with this cutting-edge, minimally intrusive treatment, call us to schedule a consultation today.