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 a 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.
We treat several people a day for fungal nail infections. If we can help you please let us know! You can contact us through our helpful front desk team. They speak to multiple patients a day with this condition. They can run you through our process and costings and reserve an appointment time that suits you best. Our number is +61 2 9673 2987 we would LOVE to help.
Medical clinics + other podiatry clinics
If you are one of the many Podiatry / Medical clinics that follow my posts please read the details in my clinic websites, I am currently developing a course for practitioners interested in learning more effective and efficient ways of treating nail fungus. If you follow our posts we will announce this as it occurs or simply send us a message and our office will save your details. We look forward to helping you as well! Our number is 02 9673 2987. Hope to chat soon.
Children spend at least 30 hours a week stomping around in their school shoes. This means that choosing the right shoe is really important for the health and comfort of your child’s feet.
“Ill-fitting school shoes can lead to a multitude of foot problems in adulthood, such as ingrown toenails, corns, callus, bunions and hammer toes. There’s also evidence to suggest that poorly fitting shoes can cause back pain,” says podiatrist and founder of A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care, Dr Brenden.
No parent wants to put their child through undue foot pain or cause feet issues in later life. By understanding how to select the right shoes for children and following the guidance of a podiatrist, parents can help ensure they’re a step ahead when it comes to picking out the best back-to-school shoes.
With Dr Brenden’s top tips, choosing the right back-to-school shoes for your child should be as easy as…well…A,B,C!
Get the best fit. It can be tempting to buy a size bigger, given how fast children’s feet grow, but the key is to allow a maximum of one thumb width between the top of the longest toe and the end of the shoe.
Heel support. Squeeze the back of the shoe to make sure the heel counter is strong and stable. This way you know you’re getting good heel support. The heel of the shoe should also be no higher than 1.5 cms.
Fasten up. Check that the fastening mechanism (laces, Velcro or buckle) holds the heel firmly in the back of the shoe. Slip-on shoes are not recommended for school wear.
Sole survivor. The soles of shoes should be fairly straight, rather than curved, as this accommodates the straightness of the foot. Also, if you attempt to ‘wring out’ the shoe by holding one hand at the heel and the other in the middle, it should not twist.
Flexibility. A flexible shoe allows for the natural movement of the foot but make sure that the shoe flexes at the ball of the foot; the shoe should NEVER bend in the middle.
A higher price tag doesn’t always mean a better shoe. Well-known brands, such as Clarks, do tend to outlast some of the cheaper brands but this is because they are well made using quality materials. Check to see that the shoe you’re considering buying is made from a high-quality, durable material.
Forget foot weights. You might be fooled into thinking that a heavy shoe is a sign of good quality. Yet a shoe that is particularly heavy is probably not going to be the most comfortable choice. A shoe should weigh no more than approximately 250 grams. That’s less than a can of soup!
Hand-me-down shoes are a no-no. Aside from the risk of fungal or bacterial infection, pre-worn shoes are likely to have molded to the shape of the previous owner’s feet. It’s also probable that the tread and heel counter have worn down, offering less support and poorer stability for your child’s feet.
Listen to your child. If your child complains of foot pain or discomfort or you notice they are walking differently, take a trip to your local podiatrist to have their feet checked.
“Parents commonly ask how long school shoes should last. Of course, this will depend on the quality of the shoe but on average they should last nine months to a year.
“However, if you notice your child has a growth spurt—check to see if their feet have outgrown their shoes. On average, children’s feet grow about half a shoe size every six months,” says Dr Brenden.
Plus, check out Dr Brenden’s YouTube reviews of some of the latest (2018) school shoes on the market (Includes Ascent Eve Black, ASICS Gel Trigger, New Balance 625 KX, Target Billy Senior—to name just a few!)
Despite the fact that fungal nail infections are notoriously tricky to get rid of, they’re thankfully quite easy to avoid—if you know how, of course!
Fungal infections are seriously easy to contract and super contagious, so it pays to have a few tips up your sleeve to beat a fungal skin or nail infection.
Top 5 tips for fungus-free feet
1.Boil your socks
We’re not kidding; regularly popping your socks in a pot of boiling water can help stop you from getting fungal nail and prevent friends and relatives from catching it (if you’ve already got it!).
Why? Fungus can’t survive extremely high temperatures. Boiling your socks for 10 minutes at 55-60 degrees will kill off any fungus that might be lurking in your socks. But remember, simply washing your socks on a regular (40-60 degree) wash cycle will do nada to nuke fungal spores.
2.Don’t share showers
Communal showers are a breeding ground for fungus. This is because fungal infections are extremely common and public showers are high-traffic areas; lots of feet means a much greater chance of catching a fungal infection! Think Gyms, swimming pools, beach side change rooms!
Super tip; If you must share a shower area, be sure to wear thongs to help minimise the risk of picking up fungal spores.
3.Be nail salon smart
A professional pedicure can be a relaxing way to prep your feet for summer—but not if you go home with more than you bargained for. Busy nail salons can be a breeding ground for fungus, so make sure you seek out a reputable nail bar. Ensure a new set of tools is opened just for you and the foot basins are lined with plastic protectors that are replaced at every use.
Super tip; If you want to be super vigilant, take your own nail file.
If you’re at the beach or swimming pool and there are outdoor and indoor showers—take the outdoor option.
Indoor showers are darker and might not have the drainage that the outdoor showers do, which means that water can collect. This creates a dark and wet environment—the perfect place for a fungal spore party!
Super tip; Outdoor showers on the other hand have the benefit of UV rays, which dries the shower area and reduces the likelihood of a fungal infection.
5.Keep feet dry
Fungal spores love dark, damp places—just like between the toes of sweaty feet. An easy step to stop fungal infections in their tracks is to make sure feet are washed and thoroughly dried on a daily basis. Sounds easy right? Yet if it were really that simple, fungal infections wouldn’t be so commonplace.
Super tip; Help protect your feet from fungus by using an antibacterial foot powder or spray in your shoes and on your feet, changing your socks daily and washing your feet after exercise.
Facing up to fungus
Fungal spores are invisible to the human eye, so it’s important to be able to quickly recognise the signs of a fungal skin or nail infection. Symptoms include:
Dry skin or white patches around the toes that remain even after moisturising
Callused skin – people often think its just dry skin, look for the other signs
Small blister like patches on your skin.
Discolouration of the toenail (usually white, yellow or brown streaks)
Thickening of the nail
Let’s face it, sometimes fungal spores will get the better of us. The trick is to treat a fungal skin or nail infection at first sight.
You can start by trying a broad-spectrum antifungal cream or ointment containing the active ingredient terbinafine, which can help kill the infection. Yet despite being widely available, antifungal ointments, paints and creams have a very low success rate.
Our Podiatrist Dr Ryan explains that this is why A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care are fighting more and more cases of fungal nail with laser.
“Laser works by penetrating the nail, heating up the nail base and killing the fungal spores.
“To ensure the best results we always treat all ten toes so that every single spore is busted. We also use a mirco drill, which makes tiny holes in the toenail and enables the laser to successfully reach the nail bed. It can help with post-laser treatment too, as any creams applied will also make their way into the nail bed for better results.”
Added benefits of fighting fungus with laser include:
Laser can beat even the most stubborn fungal spores
Top 4 reasons your Laser treatment for fungal nail infection won’t or did not work
Is all laser therapy the same?
Laser therapy has become the treatment of choice for many people struggling with fungal nail infections. It’s fast, has very limited discomfort for most and is reliable and effective. But is it?
Increasingly with the popularity on this treatment more practitioners are popping up spruiking their ability to treat. With this sadly comes with groups of people who don’t know what they are doing!
As a clinic who have been using the treatment for many – many years we have seen an influx of these people and with that an influx of poor results!
So why? As a more experienced clinic what have we noticed has contributed to the increase in poor results? Below is some of our thoughts. It’s our hope that this will be considered by some of the newer players in the market or even some that simply want to hit their “A Game!” Here are our top 4!
Number 1. Only treating one toe!
Stats suggest that while the fungal infection is obviously present in one or two toes the spores or eggs are almost 100% of the time present in the other toes!
That right you’re not treating the other fungal spores and they will either develop there or spread back to the treated toe once the laser has gone (yes that quite quickly!)
Number 2. Only treat the damaged areas in the nail.
The area that is yellow or discoloured is actually NOT the live fungus it’s the mess the live fungus leaves! That’s the dead nail NOT the living fungal spores many times!
If you only treat this area it’s a little like taking the Antibiotics after you’re better!
Number 3. You don’t treat the skin.
So where does the fungal spores come from on most occasions? Yup your skin. But you’re only having the nail treated? So the area that has much of the spores and the greatest surface area is not going to be treated.
If you have light dry skin that you can’t get rid of. Do you notice very tiny little blisters that appear but never have fluid in them? Perhaps what may appear as tinea between the toes? These are all signs your fungus is alive and well on your skin ready to hop back on your toenails.
Number 4: Not treating Shoes.
So are we clear yet that fungus obviously does NOT only live in the nail …… or on the one toe! These nasties jump about and are like tummy bugs they are invisible and spread like wild fire!
Be assured if you have had the infection for a time those spores have jumped to the inside of your shoes and socks! They love warm dark spaces. Yes, pretty much exactly like the inside of your shoes! Don’t treat this area and you will have your infection back soon than you can blink!
All that glitters is not gold!
As you can see, while it can appear like treating fungal nails is as simple as grabbing an expensive fancy Laser, it’s not nearly that simple! Particularly if you really do want to help your patient get rid of this dreadfully difficult condition and get rid of it for good. These are only four of the many steps we take (no one wants to read this all day)
In the 5 years we have been treating this difficult condition we have seen many people with unsuccessful treatments from other clinics. We continue each day to innovate in ways that can improve and enhance treatments and increase even further our success rate.
We have found that by using our very detailed multifactorial approach our success rate has been quite high and continues to rise. But and its needs to be noted no treatment is 100% effective – NONE.
You can make laser therapy treatment for nail fungal infections more effective but it takes time, a thorough approach and a little bit of work at home by the patient to increase this!
We see several people a day treating fungal nail infections. If we can help you please let us know! You can contact us through our helpful front desk team. They speak to multiple patients a day with this condition. They can run you through our process and then costings and reserve an appointment time that suits you best. Our number is +61 2 9673 2987 we would LOVE to help.
Medical clinics + Other Podiatry clinic’s
If you are one of the many Podiatry / Medical clinics that follow my posts please read the details in my clinic websites.
I am currently developing a course for practitioners interested in learning more effective and efficient ways of treating nail fungus. If you follow our posts we will announce this as it occurs or simply send us a message and our office will save your details.
Our number is 96732987 we look forward to being able to help.
Contact us at 9673 2987 with questions we want to truly understand what’s happening at present with your foot and leg pain if you are ready we will set up your initial appointment.
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