How to treat Onychomycosis (Fungal Nail Infection)
Onychomycosis, or fungal nail infection, often occurs as a result of fungi (usually athlete’s foot) infecting the nails.
Once infected, toe nails can become hardened, discoloured and, in some cases, deformed and painful. It is a very common condition but it is also one which is notoriously difficult to treat with treatment sometimes taking well over a year.
Fungal nail infections are common and they are unlikely to disappear without treatment. Whilst treatment may not always be necessary if you have a very mild case, if you have a more severe case, a course of treatment is recommended.
Tablets are usually prescribed by a GP and taken once or twice a day for several months to ensure the infection has completely cleared up. However, if you stop taking the medication too soon, the infection may return. This type of treatment may also cause some side affects such as headaches, rash and diarrhoea.
Anti-fungal Nail Lacquer
Anti-fungal nail lacquer isn’t considered to be as effective as tablets because it can be difficult for it to reach the deeper layers of the nail and, like tablets, the nail lacquer also normally needs to be used for several months to ensure that the infection has completely cleared up. On a more positive note, it does not usually cause any side effects and there are measures that can be taken which can improve its effectiveness, ie nail plate reduction.
Softening & Scraping Away the Nail
There are kits available that involve softening and removing the infected parts of nail over a few weeks. These kits can be bought over the counter but their success will partly depend on the individual’s continued commitment to the process and correctly following the instructions. Additionally, some people find that they do not like the thought of undertaking this task themselves and/or find it physically difficult to reach their toe nails, this is where nail plate reduction can be of benefit.
Nail plate reduction*
Nail plate reduction can aid and improve the efficacy of paint-on anti-fungal lacquers (i.e. Curanail, Loceryl) by having the nail professionally reduced back to near the nail bed by a qualified podiatrist/chiropodist or foot healthcare practitioner. The procedure is quick and painless.
As previously mentioned, it can normally take months and months of regular application of anti-fungal lacquer to penetrate thick toe nails. However, by reducing the nail plate before applying the lacquer, it then has a better chance of penetrating the nail and treating it successfully.
There are, of course, other treatments such as nail removal which is generally only done as a last resort when other treatments have been unsuccessful and Laser treatment although, at the moment, there is not much evidence to confirm the effectiveness of this treatment.
Whether or not you are considering treatment our podiatrist would recommend that you always practice good foot hygiene:
- Keep feet clean and dry to help reduce the risk of infection
- Do not share used towels, socks and footwear with others
- wear socks with footwear to minimise re-infection (old shoes can carry infection), and
- commence treatment of athlete’s foot infections as soon as possible (before they affect the toe nails).
For more information or to book an appointment please call our reception team on Tel: 020 8977 3295
*Note that final results and effectiveness of nail plate reduction treatment will depend on the patient applying an anti-fungal product to the nail regularly and as directed.
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