Fungal Nails or “Onychomycosis” is due to infection of Tinea (a fungal organism). Fungal infections of the nails are due to the tinea organism entering the nail via a site of trauma from the skin itself (Tinea Pedis) or from the surrounding environment (such as public showers/pools or the garden).
There are several different presentations of onychomycosis which include:
- Superficial white (white growth and pitting on the nail surface)
- Lateral) a thin line that appears yellow/opaque)
- Distal Onycholysis (end of the nail lifts and crumbles)
- Proximal Onychomycosis (yellow spots at the cuticle)
- Complete Onychomycosis (whole nail discoloured and crumbling)
It is most important to treat the cutaneous (skin) infection (if present) to reduce the chances of re-infection of the nail. Your podiatrist will advise you of the appropriate treatment. Nails are best treated with lacquers or tinctures, these penetrate the nail and act on the fungal infection within the nail. Once again your podiatrist will advise you of the most effective treatment.
Tips for Effective Treatment
File the affected nail prior to treatment, this ensures the treatment penetrates the nail, clean emery board between uses with an anti-fungal treatment such as 100% Tea Tree Oil.
Ensure shoes are cleaned regularly (weekly) by:
- Spraying Tea Tree Oil into shoe inners
- Antifungal powders
- Exposing shoes to sun for a full day
- If taking off shoes and socks, ensure the same socks go back onto the same feet to avoid cross infection
- Don’t use nail polish (ladies) as it allows the fungal infection to proliferate.
- Ensure feet are dry after shower. For maximum efficiency use a hair dryer (set on cold) or metho in a spray bottle.
If the nails are complete onychomycosis, then conservative treatment is unlikely to be completely successful. In these cases oral antifungal agents are often indicated. Your Podiatrist will advise on this situation.