It’s January and here I am wishing to talk about Fungal Toe Nails – nice topic to start off the year I know! The reason – it takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months for a big toe nail to grow out, therefore it takes that length to completely eradicate a fungal toe nail infection. If you want to show off your lovely feet in the summer, now is the time to think about treatment.
The fungal toe nail or tinea ungium give the nail a yellow or discoloured appearance and more often occurs in the big toe nail. It is often associated with fungal skin infection or athlete’s foot but can often occur for no reason what so ever. This is especially the case as we age.
Treatment is important, an untreated fungal nail can spread to other nails or cause long term damage to the nail matrix. This may lead to thickening and brittle nails which can be even more difficult to treat. This thickening and brittle nature can be an area where infection can occur in the skin around the nail, leading to pain, discomfort and difficulty in walking.
There are several forms of treatment available. Anti-fungal medication and anti-fungal nail lacquers. The benefit of taking medication is that it is delivered directly to the area affected through your blood stream and has the added benefit of dealing with any associated athletes foot or skin infection. Unfortunately, like all medications there are side effects and you should talk to your GP to discuss your suitability for this treatment option.
Anti-fungal nail lacquer is the less invasive option and can be bought over the counter at your local pharmacy. The big toe nail can take 6-12 months to grow out and the lacquer needs to be applied until the infection has completed cleared – it takes a great deal of patience and perseverance.
While treating your fungal nail, there are other important steps you should consider:
- Use one nail clipper/scissor just for the infected nail and keep the nail short
- Don’t share towels
- Wear shower socks in communal showers
- Anecdotally, applying tea tree oil to the non-infected toes can prevent spread of the infection to healthy nails.
- Maintain good foot hygiene
- Treat athletes foot if present
- Wear shoes that aren’t too tight and have plenty of room in the toe box
- Throw out old shoes that may hold fungal spores and may cause reinfection
- Wash socks on a hot wash to reduce risk of reinfection.
If you have any long term illness you should talk to your GP before commencing any treatment. Also if the nail is thickened you should contact your podiatrist/chiropodist for treatment.
Lucy runs the Mobile Foot Clinic and is available for appointment at Grants Pharmacy, Faythe Pharmacy and is available for home visits. Contact her on 087-2409167 to arrange an appointment.