What Is Toenail Fungus?

Your-Healthy-Feet-Dans-Wellness-Newsleter-July-2015Toenail fungus is an infection of the nail and sometimes the surrounding tissue.  It’s common, with 20% of the general population and 75% of individuals over 60 years old affected.  Frequently the problem causes cosmetic concerns, but many patients also experience pain.  Sometimes toenail fungus can allow more serious infections to occur.

Most patients note yellowing and thickening of the nail.  The nail may become brittle with jagged edges, become deformed or detach from the nail bed.  Risk factors include increasing age, being male, or having certain medical conditions such as diabetes or vascular insufficiency and malnutrition.  Fungus grows well in warm, moist environments such as showers.

Diagnosis is made based on a doctor’s exam and can be confirmed by viewing scrapings of the nail under a microscope or growing the fungus in a culture medium.

Debridement of the nail can be performed to relieve pain without directly treating the fungus.  Both local and systemic treatment options are available, but are of limited effectiveness. Your doctor can explain treatment pros and cons.

Source:  American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society