What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Toenail Fungus?
Common symptoms that often indicate fungal toenails include:
- 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 white spots, or brown or yellow streaks.
- Pain around the area. Toenail may also become dry and/or itchy.
- Foul odor. Toenail starts emitting a strange or foul smell.
How Do Fungal Toenails Develop?
The fungus can come into contact with your nails through infected surfaces. It loves warm, damp environments like locker room floors, public pools, and sweaty socks and shoes.
It can also start as athlete’s foot, or a fungal skin rash elsewhere on your body, then spread to your feet. (The same groups of fungi are responsible.)
It only needs a small cut or separation between your skin and nail bed to get underneath the nail and start to grow and spread.
Although anyone can get a fungal toenail infection, you may be at greater risk if you:
- Walk barefoot in damp public spaces.
- Sweat excessively.
- Don’t change your socks and shoes after they get damp (or don’t allow shoes to dry fully before putting them on again).
- Are an older adult.
- Have diabetes, or any other condition associated with a compromised immune system.
- Have athlete’s foot.
Why Laser Therapy Is Usually the Best Treatment Option for Fungal Toenails
Traditional therapies for fungal toenails have included both topical and oral antifungal medications, but both of these options come with drawbacks. Topical medications don’t always kill the fungus because they have a hard time getting through the nail. Oral medications have a higher success rate but can cause uncomfortable side effects in many people.
Laser therapy is an innovative new solution that uses focused, high-intensity beams of light that can easily pass through the nail and target the fungi underneath, without causing any pain or damage to your body. Treatment sessions are brief, no drugs are needed, and there’s no known side effects. And instead of taking daily pills for 6 to 12 weeks, most cases only require three laser therapy sessions to eradicate the infection.
What Can I Expect from Laser Therapy for Fungal Toenails?
The actual procedure is quick and painless. It takes roughly 15 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.
What Other Treatments Are Available?
As you’ll recall, we have a comprehensive treatment plan for fungal toenails. So in addition to laser therapy sessions, we also provide plenty of additional tools, products, treatments, and instructions to help accelerate the clearing of your nails – as well as helping you keep them protected to prevent re-infection.
In addition to three laser therapy sessions, our recommended fungal toenail treatment package also includes:
- Topical antifungal solution
- Nail gel
- Antimicrobial shoe spray
- ShoeZap ultraviolet germicidal light for shoes
- A dietary supplement promoting fast, healthy nail growth
For those who don’t want to wait months to see the final results of treatment, we also offer an immediate cosmetic solution called the KeryFlex Nail Restoration System.
KeryFlex is a safe cosmetic treatment that restores the appearance of natural, beautiful toenails. It uses polymer resins and special activators to create a durable artificial nail in place of your damaged nail. There are no side effects or downtime after KeryFlex; you can even get a pedicure or paint your nails!
Although KeryFlex doesn’t cure fungal toenails, it can give you a natural-looking replacement in a single appointment, which you may reapply as needed until medical treatments are complete and your real nail grows back healthy.
How to Keep the Fungus from Coming Back
The thing you must remember about fungal infections is that, even once they’ve been cured, you can still get reinfected—especially if you don’t change any behaviors that put you at risk in the first place.
We strongly urge you to continue using your topical medications and shoe sprays on an ongoing basis. This is the best way to keep your feet resistant to a reinfection. We also recommend the following tips:
- Wear flip-flops or open-toed shoes when you are walking in areas that 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 and pedicure tools for each customer.
If you are concerned about fungus starting to re-emerge, give us a call right away. We’re happy to get you in and provide an additional maintenance laser session to stamp out the fungus before it has a chance to spread.