Advertisements begin every summer for the new swimsuit fashions. But what about sandal season? For many, warm weather creates an uncomfortable notion of displaying nails that are yellow and thickened from the ravages of nail fungus. Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, can affect up to 18% of the population. Some estimates suggest that nearly one quarter of adults will develop nail fungus by age 40 and the incidence increases with age. Nearly half of seniors will be diagnosed with toenail fungus.
Fungus toenails are often characterized by discoloration and are usually thickened or dystrophic. Successful treatment is usually dependent on early diagnosis, which also aids in preventing secondary issues including ingrown toenails, infections, permanent nail damage or spreading of the disease to other nails.
Several factors facilitate development of nail fungus. Moist and warm environments (such as closed toe shoes), excessive sweating, nail injuries, circulation issues or weakened immune systems can all contribute to the development of toenail fungus.
If you suffer from toenail fungus, you have several options:
- Oral Antifungals – Prescriptions like Lamisil and Sporanox encourage new infection-free nail growth. Unfortunately, the course of treatment can be long (between 6 and 12 weeks) and patients with congestive heart issues and liver problems are at increased risk with such a long drug course.
- Medicated Nail Polish – A medicated polish called Penlac is applied to nails and surrounding skin once per day. After seven days of application, the layers are wiped off and the process begins again. This can be labor intensive with many patients needing to pursue this regimen for up to a year.
- Medicated Nail Cream – Much like medicated nail polish, patients apply the medicated cream to affected areas. The course of treatment may last several months.
- Nail Removal – A rather severe but effective method is to remove the infected nail completely. A new toenail will grow and may require treatment with an antifungal cream to prevent recurrence of infection.
- Laser/Light-Based Therapies – Using lasers is an attractive option because it theoretically destroys fungus without harming surrounding tissue. However, the efficacy of this method is mixed. Although FDA approved, it’s not usually covered by insurance and can be expensive.
- VT-1161 – A new oral antifungal with different chemical properties from traditional oral antifungals, VT-1161 is expected to be more effective with fewer long-term side effects. Clinical studies are ongoing and early evidence is showing positive results. Talk with your doctor if you’re interested in participating in clinical trials.
Sandal season doesn’t have to be out of reach just because you suffer from toenail fungus. An effective treatment program can clear up onychomycosis. Take care of your feet and they will take care of you!