Small problems have a way of becoming big problems if you ignore them for too long. A rattling sound in the engine of your car could be a cheap fix today—or a new engine next month.
Fungal toenail infections and how to treat fungal nails, unfortunately, very much fit this pattern. And unlike a strange noise from your car, which is likely to trigger immediate concern from the driver, fungal toenails in their early stages tend to be completely ignored. The discoloration may only be a small spot, you probably don’t look at your toenails closely all that often, and you almost certainly won’t feel any physical pain or discomfort.
But make no mistake—this a problem you definitely want to fix sooner rather than later. Let’s talk a little bit about why and how we treat fungal nails.
Infecting the area underneath a toenail is basically the perfect setup for dermatophytes, which is the type of fungi that cause fungal toenail infections. The skin and nails give them a never-ending supply of nourishment, and the nail itself offers extremely good protection against any efforts to kill them through topical medications—unless you begin when the infection is still very mild and close to the tip of the nail.
In short, you can’t wait out fungal toenails. They will not go away on their own, ever, no matter how long you wait or how often you wash your feet in the meantime. And home treatments have a very low chance of success. In other words, if you want to be rid of them, professional treatment is probably mandatory.
It can take a while for a fungal infection to spread out over the entirety of a toenail, but if you don’t treat it early you can expect it to get there eventually. After all, once the infection is already under the nail, there’s really not much that can stop them.
In many cases, the first noticeable sign of a fungal toenail is the development of small white spots or lines on the surface of the nail. You may also start to notice the nails getting slightly thicker, more crumbly, or “flakier.”
However, as the infection progresses, eventually the whole nail will become significantly discolored, taking on a yellowish, brownish, or grayish hue. Even worse, the nail may become extremely thick and difficult to cut, and even warped and distorted in appearance.
While a mild fungal toenail might not bother you all that much from an aesthetic standpoint, a severe one almost certainly will. If you don’t seek treatment, it will only be a matter of time.
You might think of the space under an individual toenail as a self-contained area, unaffected by what’s going on in the outside world—or in other toenails. But that’s not completely true.
See, dermatophytes have a couple of other unfortunate properties, besides the fact that they love to infect nails and skin. Number one, they can survive a long time in warm, moist environments (like, say, a pair of shoes) before coming into contact with a target. And number two, they don’t just cause fungal toenails. They also cause skin infections like athlete’s foot and ringworm.
What this means is that, if you have an untreated fungal toenail, there’s a high risk that the infection will jump from the nail to the skin (causing athlete’s foot), then back to other toenails, using your footwear as the “vector.” In fact, many times people who develop a fungal toenail actually developed athlete’s foot first.
There’s even a small (though real) risk that fungal toenails could jump from you to someone else you live with if you go barefoot in shared spaces (like the shower) or share unwashed clothes, towels, or sheets.
To be clear: this is not to say that a severe fungal toenail infection is impossible to deal with. In fact, our office is equipped with a revolutionary new treatment—controlled micro penetration—that has made successful fungal toenail treatment easier and more convenient to achieve than ever before. (More on that in just a minute.)
However, it’s definitely true that, while success rates with controlled micro penetration (CMP) are high across the board, severe cases are somewhat more resistant to any treatment and may require multiple applications of the procedure.
Plus, you also have to consider that, in order to achieve full cosmetic results, simply killing the fungus isn’t the “end” point. You need to wait for the damaged part of the nail to grow out, and healthy nail to grow in and replace it.
If your fungal toenail was mild when you started treatment, with only some minor discoloration, you may see significant aesthetic improvement in just a few weeks. On the other hand, if your toenail was extremely thick, distorted, and damaged, you will be waiting months (or even up to a year) before complete success is achieved after you treat fungal nails.
So now that you know that your fungal toenails need treatment as soon as possible, there’s still the question of how to treat fungal nails.
Although the best treatment for you will depend on your specific circumstances, in most cases we’ll recommend our state-of-the-art CMP system.
Here’s how it works. A tiny, fully automated drill makes a series of tiny holes, less than half a millimeter wide, across your damaged toenail down to the nail bed. (The tool has a failsafe that prevents it from damaging skin, so there will be no pain or bleeding.)
Once the nails have been “perforated” in this fashion, antifungal sprays can easily reach the nail bed where the fungi live, spread across the underside of the nail, and kill the infection.
Key advantages of CMP treatment for fungal toenails include:
That being said, don’t forget what we told you—regardless of the treatment method chosen, earlier is always better when it comes to treating fungal toenails!
Don’t allow your fungal toenail to worsen or spread! No matter what “stage” of the infection you’re in—or if you’re not even sure yet whether it’s a fungal toenail at all—give us a call. The earlier we can see your nail, figure out what’s going on, and help you, the faster and smoother treatment tends to be.