Flip Flop Season and Fungus! (Part 1)

With flip flop season in full bloom a common condition seen by podiatrist, fungal toe-nails (onychomycosis), becomes a common topic of conversation.  While this condition is not life threatening it is often painful and cosmetically displeasing.

It is characterized by thick, discolored and often ingrown toe nails that cause pain with pressure from shoes and walking.

Worry not, you are not alone!

Onychomycosis affects 10% of the general population, 20% in people over the age of 60 and 50% over the age of 70.  Fungus is an “opportunist” and exists everywhere.  It is more common on the toenails then fingernails.  It takes advantage of the poor circulation in the feet and loves the dark moist environment generated by shoes. 

Risk factors:  Diabetes, PVD, HIV, psoriasis, smoking, con-current skin infection   

Why see a Podiatrist?

Are you sure its fungus? Fungus is difficult to treat however, only 50% of nail problems result from fungus.  Other causes include chronic ingrown toe nails, warts, dermatitis, lichen planus, psoriasis, trauma, melanoma

As such definitive diagnosis cannot solely be based on appearance but requires both culture and biopsy.  This is 96% sensitive and aids in determining the best treatment option.

Home Remedies + Prevention

Prevention involves basic foot hygiene.  This includes regular sterile nail debridement, sterilizing shoes and insoles, changing socks daily, resolving underlying skin infections and avoiding occlusive shoe gear. 

Join us next week as we go over common treatments involved in the management of fungal toe nails!