Toenail fungus is a common condition afflicting more than 1 in every 6 Americans today. Often it is a result of microscopic organisms feeding on the keratin present in our nails. It usually starts as a barely noticeable white spot underneath the nail and you may even think that there is no need for immediate concern, then suddenly it becomes an embarrassing situation.
One day, you may look down at your bare feet and see unsightly, ragged, discolored, and brittle nails that make you want to cover them up and hope they clear up on their own. But when left untreated, a fungal nail can begin to thicken, crumble, and even spread to other areas.
And, that is why treating fungal toenails is an ongoing process – fungus is alive everywhere in our environment!
The good news is that we are here to help you kick this ugly problem to the curb. So, keep reading to find out more about what may be causing your toenails to develop fungus and how we can help you treat and prevent this pesky condition.
How Do Fungal Toenails Develop?
Fungus can penetrate your nail through a small cut in your skin or in the small separation between your skin and nail bed. When your feet become damp from sweat or after showering, and then get confined in your sock or shoe, the fungus thrives. Additionally, blood flow in your feet is not as vigorous as in the rest of your body, making your immune system’s response weaker and the fungal growth stronger.
Put simply, fungal toenails are a matter of microscopic fungus getting underneath your nails’ hard keratin tissue and then festering there. The warm, damp environment is perfect for the pathogen to grow and spread. And, as it does, your toenails develop the aforementioned symptoms.
When a fungal infection worsens, you face an increased risk of having pain, secondary infections, and even ingrown toenails as a result. An especially severe infection may even cause permanent damage to the keratin.
Who is at Risk for Developing Fungal Toenails?
Although, toenail fungus can happen to people across all demographics, there are some causing factors which may increase the probability of you actually developing one:
- Walking barefoot in wet surfaces. Areas like swimming pools, gyms, and shower rooms – which are normally damp – are a playground for fungi.
- Sweating excessively. If you are someone who sweats more than the average person, then that means your nails are most likely always surrounded by moisture. And, moisture is fungi’s best friend.
- Being an older adult. As we get older, blood flow begins to decline, nails begin to crack and grow slower which leaves room for fungi to grow.
- Having diabetes. As diabetes often comes along with circulatory issues and weakened immune system, the chances of developing toenail fungus are naturally increased.
If one or more of these apply to you, there is no need to panic. Preventing is the key, and we are here to give you some pointers on how to nip this problem in the bud before it even starts!
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
If you are wondering if your toenails have developed fungus, then here are some things to keep in mind when checking your feet for this pesky condition:
- Changes in the texture/shape of the nail. Toenail becomes thicker, brittle, or changes in overall shape.
- Changes in the color of the nail. Toenail develops any white spots, or brown or yellow streaks.
- Pain around the area. Toenail may also become dry and/or itchy.
- Toenail starts emitting a strange or foul smell.
Although, we hope that after inspecting your feet you have found no indicators leading you to believe fungus is developing in your toenails, we highly encourage you to still take preventative measures to avoid this problem – better to be safe than sorry.
How Can You Prevent Toenail Fungus?
Below, you will find easy ways to proactively steer clear from this unsightly condition:
- Wear flip-flops or open-toe shoes when you are walking in areas which are moist or damp like locker rooms and public showers.
- Trim your nails the right way – keep them short (but not too short) and make sure to cut the nail straight across rather than in an arch.
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks or change your socks throughout the day if they become damp or wet.
- Treat your shoes routinely with disinfectants or antifungal powders.
- Throw away infected shoes, especially if you just completed a toenail fungus treatment.
- Wash your hands and feet regularly, as well as, moisturize your nails after every wash.
- Choose a nail salon that always uses sterilized manicure tools for each customer.
Of course, we understand that even when we do take all the precautionary steps available, toenail fungus may still happen. And in some cases, you can stop fungal nails using a non-prescription topical cream. But although over-the-counter preparations might work to relieve symptoms for the short term, many of our patients have found that the fungus reappears. For true and lasting symptom relief, it is time to see a podiatrist.
What are Our Treatments for Toenail Fungus?
In order to truly clear up a fungal infection, here at Heartland Foot & Ankle Associates we attack the problem both from the outside in (topical medications, vitamin supplements, shoe sterilization, sanitary pedicures) and from the inside out (FDA cleared laser therapy).
Overall, we pride ourselves on being THE Center of Excellence for treating unsightly, thickened and discolored toenails. Once confirmed as a fungal infection with a simple nail biopsy, we attack the nails in two main ways:
- From the outside in. Topical medications will help prevent recurrence and will also minimize fungus spreading to other toenails.
Treating any additional athlete’s foot (fungal skin infection) is also critical to avoid spreading a fungal toenail infection. We utilize a topical anti-fungal medication in the mornings (Clarus Anti-fungal Solution) and a urea-based medication at night to soften the nails and allow the morning medication to penetrate more deeply.
We even have options to treat your shoes to prevent spreading!
- From the inside out. This is done either with traditional oral medications or with new innovative laser treatments that penetrate deeply into the nails to attack fungus where it lives in the nail bed.
We have had the fungal nail laser therapy in our office for over a year and have seen dramatic results – up to 90% clinical improvement in our patients!
In fact, our laser therapy is the latest, fastest, and most innovative treatment option for fungal toenails. This state-of-the-art technology uses red and near infrared light waves to deeply penetrate the nail to burn away fungus. It is more effective than any other modality currently available!
How Does Laser Therapy Work?
Fungal toenail laser treatment uses focused, high-intensity beams of light to reach the infection site residing underneath the hard keratin without having to surgically remove the nail or send medication through your bloodstream.
The laser travels at a very specific wavelength to pass cleanly through your nail. The specific wavelength we use is chosen because it allows the laser to vaporize the offensive fungus without damaging your toenail or its respective nailbed. And, once the infection has been eradicated, your body will start to begin producing healthy, clear nail tissue.
The actual procedure is quick and painless. It takes roughly fifteen minutes and most people experience only a slight warming sensation in their toes. After the treatment session is over, there’s no additional recovery time needed. You can simply go about your normal daily activities.
It’s important to know that even though the healthy and uninfected nail tissue starts growing back immediately, it will take several months for it to grow completely and look healthy. This should be expected because your toes have to entirely replace all of the tissue that had been damaged by the fungus.
Once they are clear, you will need to take certain steps to prevent reinfection. The human body is incapable of developing an immunity to fungus, so your toenails could be at risk for another infection if you aren’t careful. No need to worry, though – you aren’t alone! We will help you take the right measures to keep your nails clear and healthy.
Our Laser Therapy Prices
You have been asking and we listened! We now have two great payment options to give you access to our FDA cleared laser therapy for fungal nail treatments. Many patients have told us that it would be great to have an opportunity to pay as we treat, and we are now able to offer that to you!
Pay as You Go
Day 1: $999: 1st laser treatment. You also receive your CTS kit, ShoeZap, and 50% off Keryflex coupon.
Day 30: $499: 2nd laser treatment.
Day 90: $399: 3rd laser treatment.
After Day 90: $199: Maintenance laser treatment(s).
TOTAL INVESTMENT: $1,897 (not including the cost of maintenance lasers)
Pay Today to Save $399
Day 1: $1,498: 1st laser treatment. You also receive your CTS kit, ShoeZap, and 50% off Keryflex coupon.
Day 30: 2nd laser treatment.
Day 90: 3rd laser treatment.
After Day 90 $99: Maintenance laser treatment(s) 50% off the Pay as You Go price!
TOTAL INVESTMENT: $1,498 (not including the cost of maintenance lasers)
0% Financing Available*
Care Credit makes it easier to get the treatment you need without delay with 6 months of 0% financing for qualified applicants. CareCredit gives you flexibility and convenience when managing your family’s healthcare expenses and helps you reserve your cash for other expenses. The CareCredit credit card can be used at more than 165,000 healthcare and veterinary practices across the country. It only takes minutes to apply, ask an HFAA team member to apply!
Apply today to get the care you need!
* Subject to credit approval, interest will be charged on the promotional purchase from the purchase date if the promotional purchase is not paid in full within the 6-month promotional period. Please visit CareCredit.com for full details or ask an HFAA associate – we’re here to help!
Keryflex Nail Restoration System
Keryflex is a safe cosmetic treatment that restores the appearance of natural beautiful toenails. Keryflex uses polymer resins and special activators to create a durable artificial nail in place of your damaged nail. There are no side effects or down time after Keryflex, you can even get a pedicure or paint your nails!
$99 per treatment, $25 for each additional toenail
Don’t keep walking around embarrassed by your thick, discolored nails! Have confidence and show off your feet with pride by getting treatment from HFAA’s unique fungal nail program. Call us at (309) 661-9975 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Lockwood today! Or simply fill out our request form online.