We hear it all the time at our office:

“My toenails are the ugliest nails ever!”
“Why are my toenails so crumbly?”
“They’ve gotten so thick and gross that I can’t cut them!”
“My toenails are discolored and don’t look normal anymore!”

Oh, the dreaded issue of fungal toenails! The proper name for this problem is: onychomycosis (on-ih-koh-my-KOH-sis). Who has it? Lots of folks – young, old, men and women. Why do they get it? Hard to say, exactly. People can be genetically pre-disposed to it, weakened immune systems can make folks more susceptible to it, or you might contract it from the shower at the gym. But at the end of the day, if you have it, you want it gone, and FAST!

If you struggle with fungal toenails, you know that this problem can lead to feelings of embarrassment or shame. You might worry that you will spread the infection to your family. And you’re definitely worried about situations where you will have to show your feet in sandals!

The good news is that our friendly doctors can help. The bad news is that it’s not really a quick or easy solution.

Diagnosing the Problem

The first step is to correctly diagnose the problem. Fungal infections are not the only thing that can make your toenails look “ugly,” so it’s important to let a professional take a peek. Our physicians may take a sample for biopsy or diagnose the infection based on a comprehensive evaluation. Once it is determined that the problem is caused by a fungal infection, then we can move on to treatment options.

Treating Fungal Toenails

The next thing will be to come up with a treatment plan that works for your health and your situation. If only one or two nails are affected, then there are topical treatments that may work. They have to be used consistently and for many months until the infected toenail grows completely out, but they can be effective for some people. If all of the toenails are infected, or if the infection is very severe, we may consider oral antifungal treatment. For appropriate patients, these can be very effective.

You may have heard of laser treatments being used to treat fungal toenails. At Southwest Austin Foot & Ankle Clinic, we do not support the use of laser treatments for fungal toenails. At this time, there is not significant research showing these treatments to be effective in the long-term treatment of onychomycosis.

During treatment, your physician will also likely recommend that you clean your bathing surfaces with a deluded bleach solution to reduce the chance of spreading the infection to family members. Additionally, it is important to only wear shoes that are completely dry each day, because fungus love a moist environment. Therefore, it is best not to wear the same pair of shoes every day. Finally, we recommend that you disinfect any nail clippers to avoid re-infecting yourself as you begin treatment.

We understand that fungal toenails can be a difficult and frustrating medical problem to have, and we are committed to working with our patients to find the best solution for each individual. If you are struggling with fungal toenails, you don’t have to suffer alone. Please give us a call at 512-447-4122 so that we can evaluate the situation and help you find a solution that gets you and your toes back to the pool with confidence this summer!