Summer is almost here, which means it’s nearly time for sandals and bare feet at the pool or the beach. But if you’re embarrassed by your thick, yellow toenails and have been hiding your feet in thick socks and boots all winter, it’s time to talk to a podiatrist to get your feet ready for summer. At Michfoot Surgeons PC, we have a team of experienced podiatrists ready to help you.
Thick or yellow toenails are a sign of a fungal toenail infection, which when left untreated can spread to your other toes or even to your fingernails. Fungal toenail infections are also frequently accompanied by athlete's foot, a fungal infection in the skin of your feet.
Toenail infections are typically dermatophyte, a very stubborn fungus that thrives in the warm, moist environment in your toes. Wearing shoes and socks that keep your toes warm and moist helps the fungus thrive.
Signs of a fungal toenail infection
One of the earliest signs of a fungal toenail infection is small white spots on your toenails. But over time, the fungus multiplies and takes root in your toenail, then the infection spreads. Your toenails become thick and turn a whitish, yellow color. Your nails eventually become brittle and crumbly, and they start to smell.
It’s no wonder that you want to keep your toes hidden. But the longer you ignore or hide your fungal toenail infection, the worse it gets and the harder it is to get rid of it.
When to talk to a podiatrist about fungal toenail infections
If you notice the early warning signs of a fungal toenail infection, you can try over-the-counter treatments. But if your toenails don’t show signs of improvement or the infection starts to get worse, you should make an appointment with your trusted podiatrist.
A dermatophyte is a very stubborn fungus, and you may need professional medical treatment to clear the infection.
Treatments for toenail fungus
Your podiatrist offers many treatment options for toenail fungus. After they examine your toenails and confirm the diagnosis, your podiatrist recommends a treatment.
You may have tried an over-the-counter topical antifungal treatment. If it didn’t work, don’t worry; your podiatrist can prescribe a stronger medicine than you can buy in your local drugstore. Topical antifungals are either creams or nail polishes that you apply to your affected toenails.
Your podiatrist may also prescribe an oral antifungal medicine. Oral antifungal medication is often an effective treatment for fungal toenails and can clear an advanced infection more rapidly than a topical antifungal.
While your podiatrist treats your fungal toenail infection, they may also provide treatment for any other fungal infections like athlete’s foot on the skin of your feet. By clearing all traces of fungus from your toenails and skin, you reduce your risk of the infection coming back.
Avoiding toenail infections
The fungus that causes toenail infections thrives in warm moist environments like the showers at your gym or your local pool. If you walk around barefoot in these environments, the fungus can enter your toenails or skin through microscopic injuries or breaks in your skin. You should always wear flip-flops or sandals in shared public showers and around pools.
You can also reduce your risk of fungal toenail infections by keeping your feet clean and dry. Change your socks regularly, especially after exercise that makes your feet sweat. You can also put antifungal powder into your shoes.
If you think you have a fungal toenail infection, call the expert podiatrists at Michfoot Surgeons PC or schedule an appointment online today. We can diagnose your condition and offer effective treatments to get rid of your toenail infection, leaving you with healthy, beautiful toenails, right in time for summer.