When you look down at your toenails, it’s reasonable to expect to see clear, healthy nail tissue. If you are seeing darkened, discolored, or distorted nails instead, you likely have a fungal infection. We know the thought of having a fungus on your body might make you cringe, but it’s important to know the condition can be treated. Dr. Patel has years of training and experience in quickly and safely eliminating the offensive fungus for patients, and he can help you.
Educating yourself on this condition is your first step in being able to know when to call Family Foot Care & Surgery and schedule your appointment for fungal toenail treatment – including our highly-effective laser therapy!
Fungal Infections and Your Feet
In the event you have toenail fungus, don’t blame yourself! This is not an indication of poor hygiene. Instead, it’s a fairly common condition caused by microscopic organisms. There are certain measures you can take to prevent a case of fungal nails—and we’ll discuss these shortly—but you might not have known about them, and that’s not your fault.
There are a couple of reasons why this condition is common. First, there are countless fungal spores throughout the world. Second, these spores are incredibly tiny, which means it only takes a minuscule cut or abrasion for them to enter your body. And third, these fungi are often found in areas where people normally walk around barefoot. All of these combine to create many situations where it’s rather easy to contract a fungal infection.
Much like with athlete's foot—another common infection—the fungus responsible for your discolored nails thrives in warm, damp environments. Those conditions can be found in both a foot encased with a sock and shoe (especially if they are made from non-breathable materials) and the locker room or pool deck where you might have picked up the fungus in the first place. Locker room floors, indoor pool decks, and communal showering areas are all high-risk locations for picking up a fungal infection.
When the offensive microorganisms are trapped under your nails, they damage the toenail tissue. This leads to the ragged, thickened, and discolored appearance, along with brittleness. In more severe cases, there may also be a foul smell as well.
Fungal toenails might seem like a fairly cosmetic concern, but they cause embarrassment and can put individuals with comprised immune systems—like those who live with diabetes—at risk for serious complications. Additionally, this condition does not go away on its own, so treatment is needed.
Fungal Toenail Treatment
Traditionally, there had only been two courses of treatment – oral and topical medication. Each had its respective pros and cons. With oral medication, the antifungal agents were delivered via the bloodstream and could tackle the infection residing under the nail tissue. The downside to this approach, though, was the side effects patients sometimes experienced. Topical medication didn’t have the same side effects and worked well on the surface, but was unable to reach the fungi below infected toenails.
Fortunately, technological advances have given us a third, better option – laser therapy. Dr. Patel can use an FDA-approved laser to restore your nails to health. Laser treatment for fungal nails uses concentrated light beams (lasers) to specifically target the offensive fungus, while causing no damage at all to your normal tissue.
Fungal nail laser treatment does not have any unwanted side effects and can reach the microscopic fungal spores residing underneath your toenails. This is painless, quick, and safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration—the federal agency responsible for ensuring food, medication, and medical equipment safety—has approved the use of lasers for treating toenail fungus.
When you come in for laser treatment, the session takes less than half an hour. Once Dr. Patel is done, there are no restrictions on what you can or cannot do, so you can go ahead and do any activity you had planned for your day.
For more information on fungal toenails and the treatments we offer here at Family Foot Care & Surgery, simply give our Milford office a call at (203) 876-7736, our Hamden office a call at (203) 288-4055, or take advantage of our online form to contact us right now.