We recently discussed a few facts about fungal toenails, but there’s one fact that’s clearer than all the rest: if you have a stubborn fungal nail infection, you likely want it gone!
“Stubborn” feels like a word invented to describe toenail fungus. Odds are that if you have thick, discolored, crumbling, brittle nails, you have had them for some time now.
The earliest signs of an infection, when a case is at its most vulnerable to treatment, often shows up as small white spots or streaks in the nail. They’re easy to overlook, and when they are discovered, it’s easy to pass them off as the result of some sort of injury to the nail.
(If this happens to be you right now, think about any time you could have recently injured your toenail. Test the nail to see if it hurts. If both of those exercises come up negative and the blemishes don’t show any signs of improvement after a few days, don’t hesitate to call us about it!)
Usually, however, toenail fungus has had a good opportunity to set up residence. This makes it more challenging to address, but not impossible—even if you’ve had unsightly nails for years!
We have multiple methods for treating fungal infections at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates. The ultimate plan for your nail recovery may depend on how severe the case is, how thick your toenails are, and your medical history. But all of them have the goal of getting rid of that fungus once and for all!
We are proud to offer state-of-the-art laser therapy as an option for treating fungal nails. It is one of the most effective and non-invasive methods available.
Laser therapy for fungal nails uses specific wavelengths of red and near infrared waves of light energy to penetrate the nail and destroy the fungus from within.
This is a safe procedure, conducted right within our office. Healthy tissue surrounding the fungus is not affected, and most patients report nothing more than a feeling of warmth while the laser is being used.
Several sessions of laser treatment, usually spaced more than a month apart, will be needed to ensure all the fungus is taken care of. Each session takes about 20 minutes per foot.
Another option for fungal nail treatment is the use of antifungal medications applied directly to the nails.
A standard routine for topical treatment is to apply an anti-fungal solution in the morning and a urea-based solution at night. The night-time treatment is designed to soften hard, thickened nails in order to let the anti-fungal medication reach deeper into the nail.
Nail thickness and how deep the fungus has reached into the nail are both big factors on how fast and effective this treatment can be. In some cases, the nail might be filed down to give the medications additional help in their jobs.
Anti-fungal medications may also be recommended for use on your clear toes, too. It serves as a good preventative measure to keep the fungus spreading while we work on it.
While some medications work from the outside in, others can work from the inside out.
As implied, these anti-fungal medications are ingested internally, usually for about 6-12 weeks.
While oral medications can be faster than topical medications in many cases, they may also cause side effects, including potential harm to the liver. When oral medications are being considered as an option, we must review your current medications and full medical history to ensure you are a good candidate for this route.
There are some rare cases where a fungal infection is so severe that the most effective option toward treatment is removing the nail entirely. Please note that this procedure is only performed when no other options seem viable.
When Will My Nails Recover?
Regardless of the type of treatment recommended, it can take several months for an infected toenail to become fungus-free. Even then, the fight isn’t quite over!
Patience will be needed. Even though the fungus may be gone, the damage it caused to the nail is still left behind.
New, clear nail will grow to replace what was damaged, but it will take time. Toenails grow slowly, so it can take 6 months to a year to have perfect clarity. That’s why if you want as clear nails as possible for some upcoming season or event, you will want to start treatment now.
You do still have an option if you want to have clear nails before your natural ones are ready, though. The KeryFlex Nail Restoration System bonds a medically designed, natural-looking replica nail to the nail you currently possess. It’s flexible and durable, but may not be an option in all cases, depending on how much nail remains.
It is also important that you lower your risks of the fungus developing again. You will want to sanitize the shoes you have been using while infected, and we have products that can help with that! If you frequent locker rooms and public pools, you will also want to invest in pool shoes for added protection.
Stop Freeloading Fungus
A fungal toenail infection is not something you have to endure, hiding it whenever necessary. Even long-time cases can see significant improvements in several months.
We would love the opportunity to see whether we can restore your nails to their previous clarity. Our Bloomington office is ready to make an appointment with you!
Give us a call at (309) 661-9975 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with our staff.