Toenail doctor: Fungus?

Toenail doctor: fungus is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail often becomes darker in color and smells foul. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail plate, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails, the skin, or even the fingernails. If ignored, the infection can spread and possibly impair your ability to work or even walk. The resulting thicker nails are difficult to trim and make walking painful when wearing shoes. Toenail fungus can also be accompanied by a secondary bacterial or yeast infection in or about the nail plate.

Toenail fungus

Causes of Toenail fungus

Because it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms like fungi, the toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas where you are likely to be walking barefoot, such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers, for example. Injury to the nail bed, even pressure from shoes, may make it more susceptible to all types of infection, including fungal infection. Those who suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributing factors may be a history of athlete’s foot and excessive perspiration. Toenail doctor.

Symptoms of Toenail fungus

Toenail fungus is often ignored because the infection can be present for years without causing any pain. The disease is characterized by a progressive change in a toenail’s quality and color, which is often ugly and embarrassing.

When to Visit a Podiatrist aka toenail doctor

You should visit a podiatrist when you notice any discoloration, thickening, or deformity of your toenails. The earlier you seek professional treatment, the greater your chance at getting your nails to clear.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatments may vary, depending on the nature and severity of the infection. Your podiatrist can detect a fungal infection early, perform a lab test, determine the cause, and form a suitable treatment plan, which may include prescribing topical or oral medication, and debridement (removal of diseased nail matter and debris) of an infected nail.

Oral antifungals, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, may be the most effective treatment. They offer a shorter treatment regimen of approximately three months and improved effectiveness. Your podiatrist may also prescribe a topical treatment, which can be an effective treatment modality for fungal nails.

In some cases, surgical treatment may be required. Temporary removal of the infected nail can be performed to permit direct application of a topical antifungal. Permanent removal of a chronically painful nail that has not responded to any other treatment permits the fungal infection to be cured and prevents the return of a deformed nail.

Trying to solve the infection without the qualified help of a podiatrist can lead to more problems. With new technical advances in combination with simple preventive measures, the treatment of this lightly regarded health problem can often be successful.

Prevention of Toenail fungus

Proper hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes are the first lines of defense against fungal nails. Clean and dry feet resist disease.

  • Wash your feet with soap and water, remembering to dry thoroughly.
  • Wear shower shoes when possible in public areas.
  • Change shoes, socks, or hosiery more than once daily.
  • Clip toenails straight across so that the nail does not extend beyond the tip of the toe.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and are made of materials that breathe.
  • Avoid wearing excessively tight hosiery to decrease moisture.
  • Wear socks made of synthetic fiber that “wicks” moisture away from your feet faster than cotton or wool socks do.
  • Disinfect instruments used to cut nails.
  • Disinfect home pedicure tools.
  • Don’t apply polish to nails suspected of infection (those that are discolored, for example). 

Call us at 727-842-9504 or send us a message to make an appointment. Dr. Zafar will sit down with you and discuss options to proceed with.

Click to learn more about thick toenails

What is a Corn? What is a Callus?

Corns and calluses are areas of thickened skin that develop to protect that area from irritation. They occur when something rubs against the foot repeatedly or causes excess pressure against part of the foot. The term callus commonly is used if the thickening of skin occurs on the bottom of the foot, and if thickening occurs on the top of the foot (or toe), it’s called a corn. However, the location of the thickened skin is less important than the pattern of thickening: flat, widespread skin thickening indicates a callus, and skin lesions that are thicker or deeper indicate a corn.

Corns and calluses are not contagious but may become painful if they get too thick. In people with diabetes or decreased circulation, they can lead to more serious foot problems.

Causes of corn/callus

Corns often occur where a toe rubs against the interior of a shoe. Excessive pressure at the balls of the feet—common in women who regularly wear high heels—may cause calluses to develop on the balls of the feet.

People with certain deformities of the foot, such as hammer toes, are prone to corns and calluses.

Symptoms

Corns and calluses typically have a rough, dull appearance. They may be raised or rounded, and they can be hard to differentiate from warts. Corns or calluses sometimes cause pain.

Home Care

Mild corns and calluses may not require treatment. If the corn or callus isn’t bothering you, it can probably be left alone. It’s a good idea, though, to investigate possible causes of the corn or callus. If your footwear is contributing to the development of a corn or callus, it’s time to look for other shoes.

Over-the-counter treatments can do more harm than good, especially if you have any medical conditions such as diabetes. Some over-the-counter treatments contain harsh chemicals, which can lead to burns or even foot ulcers. 

When to Visit a Podiatrist

If corns or calluses are causing pain and discomfort or inhibiting your daily life in any way, see a podiatrist. Also, people with diabetes, poor circulation, or other serious illnesses should have their feet checked.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The podiatrist will conduct a complete examination of your feet. X-rays may be taken; your podiatrist may also want to inspect your shoes and watch you walk. He or she will also take a complete medical history. Corns and calluses are diagnosed based on appearance and history.

If you have mild corns or calluses, your podiatrist may suggest changing your shoes and/or adding padding to your shoes. Larger corns and calluses are most effectively reduced (made smaller) with a surgical blade. A podiatrist can use the blade to carefully shave away the thickened, dead skin—right in the office. The procedure is painless because the skin is already dead. Additional treatments may be needed if the corn or callus recurs.

Cortisone injections into the foot or toe may be given if the corn or callus is causing significant pain. Surgery may be necessary in cases that do not respond to conservative treatment.

Prevention of corn/callus

  • Wear properly fitted shoes. If you have any deformities of the toe or foot, talk to your podiatrist to find out what shoes are best for you.
  • Gel pad inserts may decrease friction points and pressure. Your podiatrist can help you determine where pads might be useful. 

Call us at 727-842-9504 to make an appointment. Dr. Zafar will sit down with you and discuss options to proceed with.

Over-pronation and Orthoses

The mechanics of how we walk and move is important to ensuring that we remain injury free, unfortunately however, in many cases the architecture of the foot can disrupt our gait (the way we walk), potentially causing long term injury and pain problems. One such gait problem is called over-pronation, and as it is caused by the shape and movement of the foot, it falls under the care and management of podiatrists, specialists in managing ailments of the lower limbs.

New Port Richey Foot Doctor

What is over-pronation?

Over-pronation describes a characteristic gait wherein a lack of sufficient support from the arch of the foot causes it to roll inwards as weight is placed on it. The long arch of the foot is actually a very important structure in terms of our gait and how we walk, it is responsible for ensuring that as our weight rolls from the heel to the balls of our feet it does so in a straight line that doesn’t place undue stress on the ankle or knees. Unfortunately when a person’s arch is not pronounced enough, or even simply not there (a condition called flat footedness), there isn’t enough arch support to maintain a healthy, forward motion of the foot.

When a foot over-pronates stress is unduly placed on the inside of the ankle and the knee, and over a long period of time, particularly if a person is involved in sports and running, this added stress starts to damage structures in the knee and ankle. The result is usually pain, particularly when running, which typically varies in severity.

If the arch of the foot is weak, usually due to a lack of strength in supporting muscles of the foot, it can collapse over time, so people who aren’t flat footed can sometimes start to over-pronate in time. This can stress tissues on the underside of the foot, causing painful conditions like bunions (the abnormal inflammation and protrusion of the big toe’s joint) and Plantar Fasciitis (painful inflammation of connective tissues in the sole of the foot).

Flat feet can also be caused by other conditions like pregnancy or obesity, both of which place a lot of stress on the arch of the foot. Regardless of cause, over-pronation needs to be treated effectively to prevent lasting injury to the foot, ankle, knee, and even hip, as the condition can severely affect the normal alignment and movement of our bodies.

Podiatric treatment of over-pronation

We will examine your foot and its shape to determine whether or not over-pronation is the cause of your pain. If we determines that it is a problem with arch support that is giving you trouble, then we can effectively remedy that lack of support with orthotics.

Orthotics are medical devices used to provide support to correct a physical abnormality. They can provide arch support when needed to remedy over-pronation, and in this particular cases the orthoses used are usually convenient shoe inserts. These can be taken in and out of shoes, and will be carefully tailored by your podiatrist to the specifics of your foot.

It can take some weeks before the effects of the inserts can become truly noticeable, and in many cases your podiatrist will want to review your orthotics within a few weeks to make fine adjustments based on how well they have worked to reduce your pain.

Call us today to make an appointment!

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