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How Do I Know if I Have a Toenail Fungus?

Does one or more of your toenails look odd? Is it crumbly at the edge, yellowish and irregular?

Don’t just ignore this unusual appearance. Healthy toenails are transparent and pink, with no brittle edges. You may have a toenail fungus, a common condition that affects up to 20% of U.S. adults. Foot fungus can multiply out of control given the right conditions such as sweaty feet or a weakened immune system.

The toenail fungus actually destroys the nail and the surrounding skin. Left untreated, the condition can cause other infections and even jeopardize part of the toe. This fungus is very contagious and can spread quickly to other family members.

Toenail Fungus vs. Trauma

A fungal nail can resemble a toenail that has experienced trauma an injury, or trauma. An injury like dropping a heavy object on your toe or ramming it into something stationary can cause similar symptoms like a brittle and discolored nail.

Nail trauma can also be caused by footwear that allows your feet to slide and hit the shoes like slippers or slip-on shoes. This type of injury is also common in workers who wear steel-tipped shoes.

It can be hard to tell fungal nail from trauma. Soaking the foot and then gently filing the nail down can help relieve the symptoms from toenail trauma. However, toenail fungus is best treated by a foot doctor.

Treating Toe Fungus

Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM looks beyond the symptoms when diagnosing and treating toe fungus. We assess our patients’ foot health by considering the whole situation including any systemic diseases, circulation, diet and drug interactions.

We will prescribe topical and/or oral medications to treat fungal infection. For severe and persistent cases, debridement of the nail may be necessary. This procedure involves physically removing the unwanted tissue from the toenail.

Prevent Toenail Fungus with Good Foot Hygiene

  • Wash your feet every day and dry thoroughly.
  • Change your socks often to keep feet dry.
  • Wear shoes of materials that breathe like leather.
  • Treat toes tenderly – cuts in the skin will encourage fungus growth.
  • Don’t share toenail clippers or other pedicure tools.
  • Wear flip flops in public pools, showers and locker rooms.
  • Choose nail salons carefully for cleanliness, sterile tools and up-to-date certifications.
  • Take a break occasionally from toenail polish. This dark, moist environment can encourage fungus and infections.

We Can Help with All Types of Toenail Injuries and Problems

Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has the right experience to treat all kinds of toe, foot and ankle conditions as well as skin problems like fungal nail. Many treatments and surgeries can be addressed right here in our office. Please call our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Treat fungal nails now to halt the spreading of this contagious infection.