Fungal nail infection (also called onychomycosis) is responsible for approximately 50% of all nail disease and in western countries it appears to be on the rise* due to our ageing populations and lifestyle changes.
If you suspect you have fungal nail infection there are many treatments available—although success rates vary greatly.
Treating fungal nail
“Typically fungal nail infection won’t go away without treatment; this can include over-the-counter topical antifungal creams and ointments, prescribed oral antifungal pills, laser treatment, or, in severe cases, surgical nail removal,” says Dr Brenden, principle podiatrist and owner at A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care.
“The biggest problem with topical antifungal agents is that they’re often ineffective, while oral terbinafine—despite being considered a ‘first-line’ treatment—requires strict adherence for 12 weeks.”
In recent years laser technology has emerged as an effective method of treating fungal nail infections. Performed by your local podiatrist, laser allows light to pass through the nail into the nail bed, effectively treating the infection at its source.
The heat from the laser kills both fungi and spores. Providing every nail is treated (which is what we recommend), the likelihood of success is high.
Preventing fungal nail from striking
“Fungal nail infection is much like a tummy bug; it can be passed on to others you come into contact with, particularly family members. As such, it really does pay to know how to protect against fungal infection,” says Dr Brenden (A.k.a Dr Foot)
The following steps can help keep your feet and nails fungus free:
Avoid public showers. If you must use a community shower—wear thongs
Boil your socks. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environment (Hello sports socks!) but they can’t survive extremely high temperatures. Boil your socks regularly, for at least 10 minutes, to kill off any hidden fungi spores.
Keep feet clean and dry. In between sweaty toes is the ideal habitat for infuriating fungi. Stop fungal infection for striking by keeping feet clean and dry. If you’re prone to sweaty feet, try an antifungal foot powder, spray the soles of your feet with antiperspirant and don’t forget to change your socks daily.
Don’t share nail clippers. Sharing is caring but not when it comes to fungal nail infection. Be vigilant at the nail salon; ensure the nail tools they use have been sterilised.
Want to know more about fungal nail infection?
Check out fungalnaildoctor.com.au
See what Dr Brenden has to say on the topic of fungal nails and laser therapy via his Facebook Live session
Clue up on our top 5 tips for fungus-free feet
Discover how Tanya beat fungal nail infection
* Thomas J, et al. Toenail onychomycosis: an important global disease burden. J Clin Pharm Ther 2010;35(5):497-519.