If you’ve been noticing changes in the colour, thickness, flakiness of your toenails, there’s a good chance you may have picked up a fungal nail infection. This is clinically referred to as Onychomycosis. They spread easily and are much more common than you know. They are also very treatable!
It is important to get an accurate diagnosis for a fungal nail infection, as multiple other conditions or causes can result in the nail having the same appearance as a fungal nail infection. If this is the case, you may waste time and money ineffectively treating a fungal nail infection that doesn’t exist!
How are fungal nail infections picked up?
Fungus spreads through spores. For a nail to become infected, fungal spores must come in contact with the nail and the growth begins from there in or under the nail. Because fungus thrives in damp, moist environments and our feet spend a majority of the day in shoes and socks, it creates a perfect breeding ground for infections to arise. This is also why fungus is often picked up from public showers, at the gym, nail salons, and swimming pools - it only takes the infected person before you to stand in the same spot for you to be at risk of picking up the infection yourself.
Of course, some factors make you extra vulnerable, such as being male, increased age, a compromised ability to fight infection, diabetes, smoking and toenail injuries, among others.
How do you treat it?
Currently, the two main ways of treating nail fungus are through topical ointments/creams and oral antifungal medications.
Topical creams, sprays or lacquers - these are widely used and can effectively eliminate fungal infections for some people. Where it is unsuccessful, it may be because:
- Some strains of fungus are more stubborn and difficult to treat than others
- If you’re using an anti-fungal cream but don’t address your environment (your socks filled with microscopic fungal spores, your shoes filled with spores, your shower etc), then the infection may very well continue to persist, and re-infection may regularly occur
Oral antifungal medications - these can be more powerful than topical ointments, and you must get a prescription for one. Because oral medications can be contraindicated for certain people that are taking specific other medications, we recommend first trying the topical ointments before consulting your doctor for an oral solution.