Dealing with Uninvited Guests
Maybe you noticed the slow change in your toenails over time, and just hoped it would go away if you washed your feet enough. Maybe you hadn’t paid any attention until you suddenly realized your nails had become discolored, ragged, and ugly. However it happened, you are concerned and possibly embarrassed by the changes. Like a stubborn, uninvited guest, the fungus comes, ravages your nails, and refuses to leave. With proper care, the experts from Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC can help your nails return to their healthy shine.
Fungal toenails, medically known as onychomycosis, are a fungal infection underneath one or more of your nails. It’s usually caused by a kind of microscopic fungi called dermatophytes, though sometimes yeast or even mold can be culprits. You pick up the fungus from the environment around you. Anywhere warm and moist, especially if it’s enclosed, can be a vibrant breeding ground. Pools, locker rooms, saunas, and community showers are all high-risk locations. Once the organisms get under your nail, they begin to cause damage to your toes, leaving your nails dull, discolored, brittle, crumbly, and thickened. For anyone, this condition is unsightly and embarrassing. For patients with compromised immune systems—like diabetics—it is more serious; it could lead to complications and additional infections if left alone for too long.
A fungal infection does not go away on its own. It needs to be treated in some way to kill the organisms responsible. When the fungi are under your nails, they are very hard to get to and so become difficult to eradicate completely. Many home remedies exist, though these will not be as effective against serious infections. Topical medications, like anti-fungal ointments, lacquers, and sprays kill the organisms on the surface; however, if the infection is already deep in the nail, they may have trouble reaching it. Oral medications get into your bloodstream and are carried directly to the affected areas, allowing them to attack the source of the infection. Over several months the medication eradicates the organisms and allows a healthy nail to grow in.
Laser treatment is the latest in fungal nail remedies. The intense light passes through the nail and reaches the fungal infection underneath, killing it in one to two treatments in most cases. Drs. Watkins and Markiewicz offer the PinPointe Laser treatment. The procedure is painless in most cases. Most people feel only some warmness in the toes. After the fungus has been killed, you should see a new, healthy nail replacing the infected nail after just a month or two. Aside from check-ups to make sure your nails are healing, there is no post-op care to cut into your busy schedule. You can walk freely after the procedure—or even have your nails painted, if you want! By 6-12 months, a fungus-free, healthy nail should have completely appeared.
If you’ve noticed changes in your nails, you don’t have to hide away your feet and hope for the best. You need—and can get—expert care from Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC to eliminate this nasty “guest.” Don’t wait until all of your toenails cause embarrassment before seeking help. Contact Drs. Leon Watkins and Maria Markiewicz of Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC in Louisiana for an appointment or more information by calling (504)-708-4810 or visiting the online contact page.