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Fungus Toenails

New Laser Technologies for the Treatment of Fungal Toenails

Our mission and commitment since the day the practice started over twenty eight years ago was to provide our patients with the newest and most advanced technology in the care of your foot & ankle problems in a caring environment. In this vein we thought we should update you with regards to the newest coming advances in the treatment of fungal toenails. Currently there are several different companies pursuing the treatment of fungal toenail infections using laser light technologies. We have and continue to follow this evolving and exciting new development from the start on behalf of our patients.

One company uses a technology that is has not been submitted to FDA scrutiny and therefore claims that were being made were not based on FDA documented science and therefore unsubstantiated. Advertising of these unproven claims were misleading to the public and have or are in the process of being removed.

Another company is pursuing a wholly different path and has patented what appears to be a novel technology that is currently under FDA scrutiny. This technology is also at this moment, not FDA approved and therefore no claims can be made regarding its characteristics. The fact that they have sought this path however, is an important distinction.

You can be assured that we will be at the forefront of any new innovative advances that will be of benefit to our patients. We will keep you informed of new developments in this arena.

If you would like any more information on this or any other subject please check our web site or send us an e-mail to info@heeldocs.com. We would be happy to discuss your case in person at your next office visit as well.

Onychomycosis - Nail Fungus

Fungal infection of the nail, or onychomycosis, 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.

In reality, the condition 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 foul smelling. The appearance of nails infected with onychomycosis varies greatly; there are some examples to the right. 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 one's ability to work or even walk. This happens because the resulting thicker nails are difficult to trim and make walking painful when wearing shoes.

Onychomycosis can also be accompanied by a secondary bacterial or yeast infection in or about the nail plate.

Because it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms like fungi, the toenails are especially vulnerable around damp areas where people are likely to be walking barefoot, such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers, for example.

Injury to the nail bed 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.

Prevention

  • Proper hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes are the first lines of defense against fungal nails. If there is any question we can help in the proper diagnosis.
  • Clean and dry feet resist disease.
  • Washing the feet with soap and water, remembering to dry thoroughly, is the best way to prevent an infection.
  • Shower shoes should be worn when possible in public areas.
  • Shoes, socks, or hosiery should be changed more than once daily.
  • Toenails should be clipped 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, which promote moisture.
  • Socks made of synthetic fiber tend to "wick" away moisture faster than cotton or wool socks.
  • Disinfect instruments used to cut nails.
  • Disinfect home pedicure tools.
  • Don't apply polish to nails suspected of infection-those that are red, discolored, or swollen, for example.

Treatment of Fungal Nails

Treatments may vary, depending on the nature and severity of the infection. A daily routine of cleansing over a period of many months may temporarily suppress mild infections. White markings that appear on the surface of the nail can be filed off, followed by the application of an over-the-counter liquid antifungal agent, such as Restore. However, even the best over-the-counter treatments may not prevent a fungal infection from coming back.

We can detect a fungal infection early, determine the cause, and form a suitable treatment plan, assessing risks and weighing the benefits against those risks for each patient.

In some cases, though infrequent, 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 podiatric physician can lead to more problems. With new technical advances in combination with simple preventive measures, the treatment of this bothersome health problem can often be successful.

Nail Care Tips

  • 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.
  • Washing the feet with soap and water, remembering to dry thoroughly, is the best way to prevent an infection.
  • Shower shoes should be worn when possible in public areas.
  • Shoes, socks, or hosiery should be changed more than once daily.
  • Toenails should be clipped straight across so that the nail does not extend beyond the tip of the toe.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and are made of natural materials that breathe.
  • Avoid wearing excessively tight hosiery, which promote moisture.
  • Socks made of synthetic fiber tend to "wick" away moisture faster than cotton or wool socks.
  • Disinfect instruments used to cut nails.
  • Disinfect home pedicure tools.
  • Don't apply polish to nails suspected of infection-those that are red, discolored, or swollen, for example.
  • Ultraviolet Shoe Sterilization systems such as Sterishoe, are extremely helpful in treating the environment in which the infecting organisms live and may help prevent re-infection.

Ask us about these items or feel free to discuss any of the information in this article at your next visit. You can also reach us at info@heeldocs.com.


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