Causes

Fungal nail infections are most commonly caused by a specialized group of fungi called dermatophytes. Yeasts and molds can also be responsible for nail fungal infections. Dermatophytes are found everywhere in the environment including gyms, nails spas, public showers, and swimming pools.  Nail trauma from tight fitting shoes can also cause nail infection because the trauma weakens the nail and allows for a portal of entry for the fungus.

Nail fungal infections do not require sunlight to survive. Pathogens that cause nail fungus infection usually enter the skin through tiny cuts or small separations between the nail and nail bed. Once in the nail bed the fungi attack the keratin of the nail, making it discolored and causing the nail to thicken.  The fungi grow because the nail provides a suitably warm and moist environment.

 

Symptoms

Nails that are infected with fungus typically are:

  • Thickened
  • Brittle
  • Crumbly
  • Ragged
  • Distorted
  • Dull
  • Darker or yellowish in color

A patient may also experience onycholysis, where infected nails separate from the nail bed. Sometimes, nail fungal infections result in pain in the toes or fingertips, and they may even produce a slight foul odor.

 

Treatment

Oral drugs: taken by mouth and swallowed; have serious liver and kidney side effects; treatment typically takes 3 months with 1 pill daily

Topical drugs: applied to the surface of the nail and skin; only marginally effective for severe infections

Laser Treatment: FDA cleared to treat fungal toenails; no side effects; painless; takes 20 minutes. PinPointe Foot Laser now offered at our office!