Specialties / Services
sToenail fungus, or “Onychomycosis” affects about half of all Canadians by the age of 70. It is relatively rare in children, but the likelihood increases with age. Fungal infections occur when microscopic fungi gain entry through a small trauma in the nail, then grow and spread in the warm, moist environment inside a persons socks and shoes.
Symptoms of toenail fungus, which can be caused by several types of fungi, include swelling, yellowing, thickening or crumbling of the nail, streaks or spots down the side of the nail, and even complete loss of the nail. Toenail colour can vary from brown or yellow to white with this condition.
Fungal infections can affect the fingernails as well as the toenails, but toenail fungus is more difficult to treat because they grow at a slower pace. Onychomycosis occurs most often on the big or small toe but can occur in any toe.
Toenail fungus is often contracted in damp areas such as public gyms, shower stalls or swimming pools and can be passed among family members. Athletes and people who wear tight-fitting shoes, or tight hosiery, or wear fabrics that prevent the feet from drying out, are at higher risk. Toenail Fungus can also spread from one toe to another, or to other parts of the body.
Other risk factors include an abnormal ph level in the skin, not drying the feet thoroughly after bathing or exercise and a compromised immune system in someone who has been exposed to a fungus. Diabetics have an increased risk of contracting toenail fungus because their immune system is compromised. Diabetic Patients should have their nails cut and debrided by a foot specialist on a routine basis.
Treatment & Prevention
Because it is difficult to treat or eradicate toenail fungus, it is a good idea to try to prevent it wherever possible. It helps to wear protective shoes or sandals in public showers, pool areas and gyms. It is also wise to avoid borrowing shoes and avoid sharing socks or towels with someone who has toenail fungus.
It is important to wash your feet regularly, and dry them thoroughly when they get wet. Wearing nail polish on the toes is not advised because it can seal fungus in and allow it to grow. Keep toenails trimmed and be sure to disinfect any pedicure tools before using them.
If you do develop toenail fungus, it is important to see your foot specialist. The specialist might remove some of the affected nail by trimming or filing it. A topical antifungal solution will likely be prescribed for a localized infection, but more serious or substantial infections must be treated using a combination approach, wherein the use of laser therapy and antifungal medications will be implemented.
The Cutera GenesisPlus is one of the only FDA approved lasers for the effective treatment of onychomycosis. The GenesisPlus procedure involves passing the laser beam over the infected nails and surrounding tissue. The Foot Specialist will repeat this process several times, until a sufficient amount of energy has penetrated through the nail bed. The procedure is painless, although your nails may feel slightly warm during treatment.
A single treatment session will take approximately 10-20 minutes, depending on the number of nails affected. Most patients show some signs of improvement after the first session, but generally a series of 3-4 treatments will be required to resolve the infection entirely. Treatments are generally scheduled in 4 week intervals, to ensure the infection is not transmitted into the new nail growth. The use of a topical antifungal medication will be required throughout the course of your treatments, which will help protect the healthy nail tissue from becoming reinfected.
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