Are your nails discolored, thick, and ragged? You may be dealing with nail fungus. Fungal infections of the nail are caused when bacteria are introduced to the nail bed. Bacteria live everywhere, including in your shoes, making it easy for your nail bed to be exposed. While completely preventing a fungal nail infection is hard, there are steps you can take to mitigate your risk, including choosing shoes with breathable material, wearing sweat-absorbing socks, and sanitizing nail clippers.
If your nails are abnormal in appearance, don’t automatically assume it is a fungal issue. Other health issues can be the cause. “Accurate diagnosis is first and foremost,” says Dr. Josh Hill of Bluegrass Podiatric Management and Orthopedic Surgeons & Podiatry of Harrison County. “Patients often incorrectly assume they have nail fungus and begin over-the-counter treatments that have no effect,” says Dr. Hill. While nail fungus can present a cosmetic issue, typically it is not linked to other major health issues.
Solution 1: Over-the-Counter Treatments
Topical creams, such as Lotrimin and Lamisil, can be purchased at drugstores. However, Dr. Hill says most people do not see much improvement with these options. Instead, he recommends a daily application of Vicks VapoRub to the affected toes. “This is not going to treat the fungus, but it helps to keep the nail soft,” says Dr. Hill.
Solution 2: Clinical Remedies
There are also options you can discuss with your doctor, including prescription drugs and procedures. Prescription drugs have proven to be more effective than over-the-counter topical options. Oral Lamisil and Jublia are two of the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat nail fungus. You can also opt for laser therapy. However, this is an expensive option not covered by insurance. In some instances, removing the infected toenail will be the best treatment. Dr. Hill recommends considering this option if you are experiencing pain or other physical issues related to the infection, rather than for cosmetic purposes.
By Tami Pyles
P.S. Read more — and find solutions to pain.
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