What are they?
Not all discolored, thickened, or deformed nail plates are due to fungus infections. Indeed, many are due to trauma, congenital (birth) changes, and other conditions such as drug use, high fever ailments, and circulatory problems. The actual fungus nail itself is one that is diagnosed through clinical cultures and identification of the involved organism. It is usually a thickened and yellowish-brown discolored nail plate surface. In most cases, the infection starts at the end of the toenail and progressively involves the remainder of the plate. The vast majority of fungus nails are asymptomatic or painless and for many, are more of a cosmetic problem than anything else. Most authorities agree that fungus nails are not contagious between people but a progressive involvement from one toe to another is still a confusing issue for many.
How do you treat them?
The treatment methods available for fungus nails are about as numerous as are the varieties of nails themselves. Oral medications are available but their use is expensive, long term, and not without potential systemic hazards. Localized reduction and periodic care of the nails are purely temporary and resemble the use of Kleenex in treating the common cold. Although beneficial on a limited scale, this form of treatment is geared toward preventing the condition from worsening. Various types of topical medications are available both over the counter and by prescription, which can be effective. Many patients prefer the use of a topical medication to an oral or systemic drug. An additional method of treatment that is frequently used is to surgically remove the involved nail plate and treat the underlying fungus infection on the nail bed area. Other methods of treatment, less frequently used, are also available.
A primary evaluation and decision must be made as to how serious the problem is for the patient. Whether to treat aggressively or periodically observe the condition are viable considerations for each individual. Fungus nails and their treatment can be difficult and involve a lengthy course of therapy.
For further information, please contact our office.