Are your toenails a horrible sight? Does the thought of wearing sandals out in public make you cringe? Yellowed, matted, dull, brittle, thickened, or warped nails are an embarrassing problem for many, but it doesn’t mean you have to wear closed-toed shoes for the rest of your life. Dr. Danciger can help.
Why Are My Toenails Messed Up?
Toenail fungus is caused by an infection of dermatophytes, a group of a fungi that affects the skin and feeds off keratin. They thrive in warm, damp, and dark locations (inside sweaty shoes, on gym floors and pool decks, public showers, etc.) and are highly contagious. Combine a tiny opening under your nail or in your skin (even microscopic ones) and contact with an infected surface, and infection can set up shop.
You may feel like you’re the only one in the world with this problem, but you’d be surprised at how common it really is, especially once you reach middle age and older. It’s estimated about 1 in 10 Americans suffers from the condition on at least one toe, with higher rates among those with significant risk factors (such as age or diabetes).
Restoring that Healthy Glow
We’ll start with the bad news. First: toenail fungus absolutely will not get better without professional help. Simply improving your hygiene or using over-the-counter antifungals won’t cut it—you cannot get underneath the nail. Second, treatment takes time—even once the stubborn little microbes are eliminated, you’ll still have to wait for new, healthy nail tissue to grow and replace the damaged portion, a process that can take 6-12 months. Now the good news: with professional help, you can conquer this embarrassing condition.
The traditional treatment method involves taking a prescription oral antifungal for 6-12 weeks. Although this method is usually successful, careful monitoring is required, as some people can experience significant side effects from the medication.
A more modern solution, highly effective and without the risk of side effects, is laser treatment, which uses light to safely eliminate the invaders. We’ll discuss this more in the next section.
For those with fungal toenails that are particularly severe, painful, or keep returning, surgery may be considered. The toenail will be removed, allowing direct access to the fungus underneath. It’ll take about a year for the nail to grow back; if you’re still having problems, we can consider destroying the nail matrix itself, which will permanently prevent a new nail from forming.
Laser Treatment—Fighting Fungus in the 21st Century
Within the last decade, laser treatment has emerged as a superior treatment method for most patients with fungal toenails. It’s simple, easy, painless, and just as effective (if not more) than traditional methods, plus it it’s entirely free from side effects.
A standard treatment course is 6 sessions in our office, each lasting 10-40 minutes (depending on the number of affected toenails). The wavelength of light used by the laser passes straight through the toenail to the nail bed beneath, and while it’s harmless for you, it’s deadly for the fungi who live there. You may feel a slight warming sensation, but no pain or discomfort.
As with any method, it’ll take time for the damaged portion of the nail to grow off and out, but most people still experience an obvious improvement in the color of their nails after just one or two sessions.
Get the Experts on Your Side
Whatever treatment method is best for your situation, your first step will always be making the call to the right expert. Your toenail fungus will wait you out until you do.
Don’t put up with the embarrassment any longer. Let Harvey Danciger, DPM help you step back into those sandals with confidence and pride. To set up an appointment at our Palm Desert, CA office, connect with us online or call (760) 568-0108.