What do fungal toenails look like?
Typically the nail has a yellowish discoloration but can range from dark brown, orange, green, canary yellow, to white. It usually has thickening of the nail or peeling in layers. The nail could be lifting and ingrowing as well.
What causes fungal toenails?
It is an infection of the nail plate with a fungal organism, usually after a small trauma or ill fitting shoes. Any invasion to the nail bed can introduce a nail fungus.
What is fungus?
In biology, fungus are classified as a living organism in a separate category from animals, plants, and bacteria. They are in the Fungi Kingdom. The chitin makes them different from plants, which have cellulose. Most commonly, we think of mushrooms and yeast as fungus.
What are the treatments?
Self treatment is very limited because the nail thickens and most of the over the counter products are not effectively absorbed into the nail bed. The other problem is trimming a thick nail with a regular clipper is almost impossible. Filing off the thick parts is always recommended, but do not hurt your skin or make the nail bleed.
Successful cure of the fungal nail often involves a combination therapy to be effective. A sample of the nail is taken to confirm the diagnosis. This test only takes a week to get back the results and is very accurate. Then the treatment can be started.
If the toenail is causing an infection of the skin, some or all of the nail may need to be removed. This is usually done after numbing the toe with local anesthetic. It can be done in the office and usually resolves within one to two weeks.
Patience with the process is needed – remember that toenails may take up to one year to fully grow out.