Fungal Nail Infections (Onychomycosis)
Patients are often embarrassed by their feet; particularly with fungal nails, however they are one of the most common conditions we see! They can affect up to 8% of the population. Fungal infections occur when microscopic fungi enters the nail usually through trauma or micro trauma from footwear. These reproduce and spread through the nail, the fungi thrive in the moist warm environment of socks and shoes.
Usually patients complain of discolouration and thickening of the nail, however generally they experience no pain. The nail can present with an array of colour ranging through brown, yellow and white with striations or spots across the nail. The nail can be treated with a number of topical tinctures, oral anti-fungal prescription medication from your GP and time. Your podiatrist will discuss the options best for you. They will make you feel more comfortable with your fungal nails by clinically diagnosing them, filing them to a manageable level and providing advice.
Tips to avoid Fungal Nail Infections:
- Wearing shoes in communal showers, pools and gyms.
- Avoid borrowing socks and shoes.
- Wash your feet regularly.
- Dry in-between your toes thoroughly.
- Avoid sharing towels.
- Clip your nails regularly.
- Wearing well fitting socks and shoes.
- Nail salon equipment can often be the source of fungal nails so ensure your nail technician is cleaning instruments between clients.
Thick Nails (Onychauxis)
Thick toenails can be unsightly or worrying for patients. Generally thick toenails cause no pain however they can grow quickly and become uncomfortable in the shoes. Thick toenails are usually caused by some form of trauma to the nail matrix (the part of the nail where it grows from). The trauma can be from stubbing your toe, dropping something on your toe or from micro trauma the term used for continuous small trauma to one area, this is usually from wearing ill fitting shoes.
Patients often complain that these nails are difficult to cut and when they do cut them they often split or crumble. Your podiatrist can keep these nails comfortable for you by regular filing and trimming. Podiatrists have a machine called a nail drill which works to reduce the thickness of the nails without damaging the toe. Often patients feel that their toenail is affecting their way of life and choose to have it removed by a podiatrist under local anaesthetic in a procedure called nail surgery.
In our clinic we have many patients who choose our other service the medical pedicure which is a full treatment with a file and polish, this can cosmetically disguise the thickened nail and allows our patients to feel ready for their holidays or special occasions.
Tips to avoid Thickened Nails:
- Trim your nails to the contour of the nail.
- Wearing shoes with a strap or lace minimises micro trauma from footwear.
- Tying your shoelaces tightly.
- Avoiding shoes with a small toe box.
- Avoid cutting your cuticles.
Tips to care for Thickened Nails:
- Trim your nails after a bath or shower.
- Completely dry your toenails.
- Use an emery board or file.
- Trim the nails, starting at one corner and continuing straight across to the other corner. Smaller cuts with the trimmer will prevent splitting or chipping.
Involuted toenails are often confused with ingrown toenails, the biggest difference is that the involuted nail is the natural curvature of the nail digging into the skin whereas the ingrown toenail is a spike of nail that has pierced through the skin. Involuted nails can also be called pincer nails due to the shape of the nail curling in towards the toe. Unfortunately involuted nails are usually genetic however they can be managed with the help of a podiatrist who will carefully trim the nail back and remove any debris then file them to reduce any excess pressure. Cutting these nails correctly can prevent ingrown toenails from occurring.
If you find that these nails are continuously causing pain, there is a permanent method of nail removal under local anaesthetic. Our specialist podiatrists can remove a segment of the nail and apply a chemical to prevent regrowth of the nail.
Tips to care for Involuted Nails:
- Trim the nails starting at one edge and continuously trimming small sections to ensure not cutting the toe.
- Filing the nail regularly.
- Wearing shoes that fit the shape of your foot.
- Do not cut your cuticles.