Fungal Toenails, Yellowed or Deformed Toenails
The most common cause of yellowed, thick and /or deformed toenails is a fungal infection of the toenail. The fungus that infects the nail, most commonly, is the same fungus that causes athletes foot. It tends to be slowly progressive, damaging the nail to a greater and greater degree over time. The infection usually starts at the tip of the nail and works its way back. It usually is not painful and often not noticed until it has gotten well established. A single toenail or any number of nails can be affected. It can also occur on just one foot. Over time, the nail becomes thickened, crumbly, and distorted in appearance. Sweaty feet contribute to the initial infection process and contribute to its spread. The fungus prefers an environment that is moist, dark, and warm, which is why it affects the toenails much more often than fingernails. It does not spread through the blood stream. The infection limits itself to the nails and skin. It is often found in association with areas of dry scaly skin on the bottom of the foot or between the toes. The dry scaling skin is frequently found to be chronic athletes’ foot. It is not highly contagious, and family members are almost as likely to contract it from some other source as they are from the family member who has the infection. Keeping common showering areas clean is recommended, and sharing shoes should be avoided.
Not all thicken or yellowed toenails are caused by a fungal infection. Injury to a toenail can cause the toenail to grow in a thickened or malformed fashion. This can be due to an established fungal infection or may be due to the damage caused to the nail root when it was injured. In these instances, treatment with anti-fungal medications will not correct the malformed nail. Other causes of thickened toenails are small bone spurs that can form under the toenail and psoriasis. Taking a scraping of the toenail and culturing it makes the diagnosis.
There are many treatments available from homeopathic remedies to prescription drugs, however one that shows immediate improvement is laser.
Toenail fungus is very common and frequently causes the toenails to deform, discolor, become soft, peeling and even loss of the toenail. There are many treatments available from homeopathic remedies to prescription drugs, however one that shows potential is laser treatment. Have a question? Ask Dr. Colabella.
Killing the Fungus
The role of the laser is to kill the fungus in the affected toenail(s). A special laser is used and is directed on the fungus. In a short period of time the laser is able to kill the fungus and eradicate it completely from the individual’s toe and toenails.