What is fungal nail?
Fungal nail is the condition where nails that have been infected by a fungus and is called onychomycosis. Fungal nail causes discolouration of the nail so it has blotches of yellow to creamy white and often some darkening of the surrounding nail plate.
The skin under the nail and the nail itself usually thickens and develops a white powdery appearance. Often the nail becomes free from the nail bed and only remains partially attached.
Fungal nails can involve just a small portion of a single nail or the nails of all 10 toes if not treated early. Fungal nails can become quite inflamed and painful when left untreated.
How to treat fungal nail
Early in the development of a fungal nail only a small portion of the nail plate becomes discoloured. If treated at this early stage the nail usually only requires some reduction by the podiatrist and the daily use of a topical anti-fungal medication. Many patients do not recognise early discolouration when fungal nail first appears.
This means the infection is often well established by the time the patient sees the podiatrist. When the fungal infection involves a larger portion of a nail or there are multiple toenails involved the best treatment involves five components.
- Diagnosis of the infection
Several things can cause toenails to develop the appearance of a fungal nail. Our podiatrists will perform and in-office pathology test to determine if the fungus has infected your toenail or there is some other cause. A small scrapping of nail is taken, and the result is known within 5 minutes.
- Footwear hygiene
The right type of footwear used in the correct way will assist in the treatment of clearing a fungal nail infection.
- Topical antifungal medication
Our podiatrists will advise on the best medication to apply to your nail to help clear the infection.
- Oral anti-fungal medication
By taking a course of tablets your fungal nail infection will be cleared up to 50% faster when used with the other 4 components of treatment. Our podiatrist will discuss and organise prescription of the best oral anti-fungal medication to clear your fungal nail infection.
- Infrared laser therapy
The nails are reduced in size and then an infrared laser is applied in a specific manner. Infrared laser provides a wavelength of light that kills the fungus that has infected the nail and stimulates blood flow to the nail bed promoting healing.
Our podiatrists will advise how many laser treatments are required to clear your fungal nail infection. Usually, between 2 to 6 treatments applied once every 2 weeks will clear the fungal nail.
Most fungal nail infections take 6 to 12 months to clear completely because it takes that long for a nail to grow from the base to the front edge. Laser therapy is successful in treating fungal nails in up to 80% of cases. Read more about fungal nail treatment.