Patients agree that fungal nail infection or toenail fungus is one of the most unpleasant afflictions and also one of the most difficult to treat.
It is actually very common. Statistics from the USA suggest that it affects 1 in 10 of the population; while European statistics put the figures as high as 26.9%.
The tendency to fungal nail infection increases with age – based on the USA figures, by the age of 60, the 10% figure rises to 20%. Over the age of 70, it affects an astonishing 50% of the population.
Dermatophytic Onychomycosis/Tinea Unguium
Fungal infections of the nails are medically referred to either as dermatophytic onychomycosis, or less commonly as tinea unguium.
The fungus responsible for the infection is usually the same fungus which causes athlete’s foot. In fact, often the nail infection is caused when athlete’s foot spreads to the keratin of the nails.
Fungal nail infection is most often found in the toenails (80%) but can affect fingernails too.
Here are a few common questions about fungal nail infection to explain the problem.
Will it go away again?
No, fungal nail infection is very unlikely to clear up without treatment.
Is it harmful?
It is not of any medical concern, but patients do not like the look of it. Untreated, fungal nail infection can spread to other nails too. Very well established infections can also cause discomfort as the nail becomes thick and rubs in footwear.
Signs and symptoms of fungal nail infection may include the following:
- brittle, flaking or crumbling nails
- scaling under the nail
- white or yellow streaks, blemishes or marks on the nail
- flaking white areas on the nail’s surface
- thickened nails, which in severe cases are quite deformed and rub on shoes
- a distorted nail (e.g. twisted, lumpy or bumpy)
- nail lifting up off the nail bed
- nail coming off altogether
- a smell or odour from the infected area
These symptoms won’t necessarily all be there, depending on the severity and nature of infection.
In general, the treatment options are:
- Medication – oral treatments prescribed by a doctor, which must be taken for a few weeks. This does not work in all cases – Griseofulvin only works on around a third of infected toenails – but the oral medication route is generally considered more reliable than topical treatments.
- Topical treatments – over the counter or prescription treatments which are painted onto the nail. These have to be used for months before a result is noticeable and the success rate is generally less than with medication. Many patients have tried a few topical treatments before seeking alternative methods
- Laser treatment – laser fungal nail treatment is relatively new, but shows excellent outcomes. In one research study, 100% of participants had improvement
How will I know if the treatment is working?
Nails grow slowly from the base, so it can take months for improvement to be seen, especially with topical treatments. It can take 18 months for a toenail infection to grow out completely.
This is one of the most frustrating aspects of attempting to treat the condition and one reason why more people are choosing to have laser treatment to improve their chances of success.
Laser Fungal Nail Treatment
Laser fungal nail infection treatment emerges as an excellent choice for treating damaged nails. Cosmedics Skin Clinics offer the revolutionary ClearChoice using the Harmony XL Pro laser. This is a clinically proven laser and light-based solution which works right at the source of the infection beneath the nail plate to destroy the fungus.