West Houston Dermatology

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Getting Rid of Nail Fungus

Toenail fungus is a relatively common problem caused by microscopic organisms called dermatophytes that can infect the tissue in both fingernails and toenails, but nail fungus most commonly occurs in toenails because the feet and shoes can provide an excellent growing environment for fungi.  The fungal infection is called onychomycosis.  The symptoms are discolored nails that are thick or cracked/flaky.  Unfortunately, by the time a person notices the symptoms, the fungal infection is well established and may have reached the nail bed, which makes it more difficult to treat.  Usually patients get nail fungus after a trauma to the nail, such as a cut or break, or from wearing shoes that are too tight and pinch the toes.   Another way patients acquire nail fungus is through contact with contaminated nail instruments or nail salons that are unsanitary.  Treatment for nail fungus includes topical creams and sometimes oral medications (antifungal drugs).  The best way to care for nail fungus is to not get it in the first place, because it’s difficult to treat just because of the nail physiology.  If you frequent nail salons for manicures or pedicures, Dr. Mahoney of West Houston Dermatology suggests that you go to a salon that practices sound hygienic practices.  A reputable nail salon should use clean, new nail files and buffers on each customer as well as tools that have been sterilized in an autoclave – not just put in a sealed plastic package.  An autoclave is a device that sterilizes equipment and supplies by subjecting them to heat, high pressure, and steam for about 10-15 minutes.  A good shop will have these within view of its customers.  If you think your have nail fungus, the best practice is to get treatment from a physician right away.  West Houston Dermatology can help you with all kinds of medical dermatology issues, including nail fungus.  Contact our office today.