2752 North Southport Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
Serving Lincoln Park, Lakeview and Greater Chicagoland Communities
There's a Fungus Among Us!
Fungal nail infection, or Onychomycosis (Onycho = nail and mycosis = fungus), is estimated to affect more than 10 percent of the U.S. population – or 35 million Americans. This condition is caused by fungi that can live in the layer of dead skin around your nails, in the space under your nail, and in the nail itself.
Nail fungus is an embarrassing chronic condition that impacts a person’s quality of life and can lead to serious health problems for those with diabetes or immune disorders. Nail infection can start as a result of a family history of susceptibility, increasing age, poor health, nail trauma, warm or moist climates, exposure to infected nails in sports/fitness facilities, communal bathing areas and nail salons.
Why Treat It?
While doctors and textbooks consider this as a condition of older patients, I see in my practice many people in their 20s and 30s. For most of them toenail fungus is considered primarily a cosmetic condition but it is progressive and should be treated.
If left untreated, ignored or given up on, the condition gradually worsens over the years. It does not clear up on its own. Starting as an infection under the nail plate, it grows towards the cuticle and destroys the growth cells of the nail. The nail becomes darker in color and debris may accumulate under the nail. This results in a progressively thicker nail and the infection may spread to other toenails, the skin or the fingernails. Nails infected by fungus can, over time, become painful and cause permanent deformity of the nail, which can interfere with your being able to wear shoes, walk, play sports, and other activities.
For many people who have mycotic nails, getting rid of ugly, discolored and sometimes odorous or painful nails can be a life-changing boost to self-esteem.
How is it diagnosed?
* Appearance (discolored, thick, lifting off nail bed, debris under nail)
* Starts at end of nail and grows back to cuticle
* Nail culture or examine with microscope
Who gets fungal toenails?
* Men and women, young and old
* Immune compromised people
* People with poor hygiene, sweaty feet
* People who come in contact with the fungus at health clubs, pools, nail salons
What doesn't treat nail fungus?
There is no clinical proof that things like Vick's vapor rub, bleach, Epsom salt, or vinegar cure nail fungus.
How is it treated?
Treatment of nail infection is difficult because the infection is under and inside the nail, which makes it hard for most methods to reach and destroy the infection. Also, toenails grow slowly so even with an effective treatment it takes many months before results are seen.
There is no one sure cure. When considering treatment, you should weigh the benefits and risks of treatments:
Topical treatments: No side effects, many choices, few that work well. Over-the-counter treatments are even less effective.
Oral medication: Lamisil (Terbinafine) or Sporanox (itraconazole). Side effects range from skin rashes to liver damage. Also not recommended for persons taking many or certain medications. Only about 50% effective.
Laser treatment: The most effective treatment. The PinPointe FootLaser used in our office was deveIoped specifically to treat toenail fungus. It shines a focused beam of light in a narrow range into a toenail infected with a fungus. The laser penetrates the toenail and vaporizes fungi embedded in the nail bed and nail plate. It does not affect the nail or surrounding healthy skin.
- Clinical studies show 81% success after 12 months
- Simple and painless
- No side effects
- Results seen in about six months or more, depending on how fast your nails grow
If you don't like the way your toenails look today, give us a call soon to schedule your free evaluation.