Nail fungus often starts with one yellowing or thickening nail. Before you know it, if could spread to multiple fingers or toes causing self-consciousness about wearing sandals, going barefoot or shaking hands.
The first step toward treatment is identifying the cause of nail changes. Not all changes are fungus. Other causes for nail changes can include arthritis, poor foot wear, injury, psoriasis, lichen planus, or other disease. A fungal culture or nail scraping may help to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatments vary. Each treatment has advantages and disadvantages.
- Oral therapy – often most effective; involves shorter-term therapy (3-4 months), but may have side effects.
- Laser – cure rates are not as high, and often not covered by insurance.
- Topicals – may require up to a year of daily therapy.
Keep in mind that organisms that cause nail fungus don’t stimulate an immune reaction – so this can be a recurrent problem. Prevent nail fungus by preventing/treating athlete’s foot before it spreads to the nails.