There’s no debate about it: toenail fungus is an eye sore. Those thickened, brittle, yellow or dark colored toenails are unsightly, even if they are not a major health concern. They are also extremely common, with more than 3 million cases of toenail fungus in this country each year. Fungi are microscopic organisms that thrive in warm, moist spots, such as swimming pools, Jacuzzis and the showers at your health club. The fungi in your toenail is the same fungi that causes jock itch, athlete’s foot. It infiltrates your toenail through microscopic cracks or a tiny separation between your nail and nail bed. Fungal infections are more apt to affect toenails than fingernails because your toes are often confined to shoes, which are warm and moist.
Toenail fungus is not a major health concern. However, in extreme cases it can cause the toenail to separate from the nail bed, may cause pain and itching, produce a foul odor and definitely spread to your other toes. Toenail fungus is more common among individuals over the age of 65 and those with diabetes or other diseases that affect circulation that makes it more difficult for the immune system to fight off infections.
In many cases, topical treatments – whether prescription or over-the-counter – are not effective. This is because the medicine it is unable to get through the toe’s thick nail plate.
Laser treatment can be extremely effective in eradicating stubborn toenail fungus. It emits focused energy deep below the skin, directly to the fungal bodies and destroys them at their roots. FDA-approved laser treatments can be used alone or in combination with oral antifungal medication.
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