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Why You Should Never Let Toenail Fungus Go Untreated

May 01, 2023
Fungal nails can make life embarrassing when it’s time to bare your toes for spring and summertime fashions. But did you know that they’re also a health risk? Learn why specialists advise against ignoring toenail fungus.

The CDC estimates that about 46 million people in the United States have toenail fungus. It’s well known for spoiling pedicures as it changes your nails’ texture, color, and shape. As if that weren’t enough, it can cause health concerns when it spreads from your toenails to your skin, or from one person to another.

Our team at Metroplex Foot & Ankle provides exceptional podiatry services for the communities of Dallas, Garland, and Richardson, Texas. We’re here to help by solving painful foot and ankle problems like flat feetankle sprainsbunionshammertoes, and heel pain. Our expertise also includes diabetic foot carechronic wound treatment, and resolving issues like fungal nail infections.

Read on to learn why our board-certified podiatrists recommend treating fungal nails, and find out what treatment typically entails.

Understanding the basics of toenail fungus

Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection that affects the nails of the toes, causing them to become thick, discolored, brittle, and misshapen. It’s usually caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes, but other fungi, such as yeast or molds, can also infect toenails.

Toenail fungus typically starts as a small white or yellow spot under the tip of a toenail and gradually spreads deeper into the nail bed. Most fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, such as sweaty shoes and damp socks, making most feet an ideal spot for fungal growth — especially in warm-weather months.

Risk factors for developing toenail fungus include having a weakened immune system, wearing tight-fitting shoes, walking barefoot in public areas like locker rooms or swimming pools, and having a history of nail injuries.

Why you should consider treatment for toenail fungus

There are several compelling reasons for treating toenail fungus:

Preventing the spread of infection 

If left untreated, toenail fungus can spread to other toenails, the skin around the nails, and even to other parts of your body, including your fingernails. It can also spread to other people if you share shoes, socks, or nail grooming tools. 

Treating toenail fungus early prevents the infection from spreading and causing further complications.

Avoiding pain and discomfort

Toenail fungus can cause pain, discomfort, and tenderness around the affected toenail. As the infection progresses, the nail becomes thicker, brittle, and discolored, sometimes making it difficult or uncomfortable to wear shoes, walk, or engage in physical activities. 

Our treatments at Metroplex Foot & Ankle alleviate pain and discomfort associated with toenail fungus, allowing you to resume your normal activities without discomfort.

Improving aesthetics and increasing self-confidence

Toenail fungus causes significant cosmetic changes in your nails, often making you feel self-conscious about wearing open-toed shoes, going barefoot, or engaging in activities where your feet are exposed. 

Treatment improves your nails' appearance, boosting self-confidence and restoring overall foot health.

Preventing health complications

If left untreated, toenail fungus can lead to more complex issues, including:

  • Frequent ingrown toenails
  • Nail loss
  • Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) and other skin infections
  • Bacterial overgrowth on the nails (usually causing green or brown nail discoloration)
  • Potentially life-threatening bacterial skin infection (cellulitis) that can spread to deeper tissues

People with diabetes or other conditions that weaken their immune system are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from toenail fungus. Treatment can help prevent these complications and safeguard your overall health.

Treating toenail fungus

Toenail fungus treatment at Metroplex Foot & Ankle starts with a comprehensive evaluation that may include nail scrapings to understand the source of your infection (i.e., yeast, dermatophytes, or bacteria). Notably, psoriasis can also cause nail changes that mimic a fungal infection.

Next, we develop a customized treatment strategy that may include topical or oral antifungal medications, antibiotics, laser therapy, or surgical removal of the infected nail (a healthy, fungus-free nail will gradually grow back). We also provide easy-to-follow tips for preventing further infection and maintaining good foot hygiene. 

If you’re ready to get rid of unsightly toenail fungus, we can help. Give us a call to schedule an evaluation at Metroplex Foot & Ankle today, or request an appointment online any time.