Fungal nail infection is the most common disease of the nails. Infections can range from mild to severe and can affect one or several nails on both feet and hands. Fungal nail infections are commonly found in people aged over 55, and regular users of communal showers, such as athletes or swimmers.
Fungal nails are usually characterised by a white/black/yellow/brown thickened nail with a brittle, flaky appearance. In some cases, the infected area can produce an unpleasant odour. The most common cause of fungal nail infection is the spread of a fungal skin infection (athletes foot) to the nail. Athlete's foot may spread to the toenail if it is left untreated.
If you have a fungal nail, you should seek professional advice from a podiatrist.
There are a few different treatment options for fungal nails, the treatment which may be best suited to you is dependent on the severity of the infection and a number of factors following the assessment.
With any fungal nail treatment intervention, it can take anything from 6-18 months for the infection to fully clear. This is because the anti-fungal treatments stop further growth of fungal elements, which allows a healthy nail to regrow, and toenails grow slower than finger nails.
Antifungal nail paints/lacquers
Can be beneficial for mild/moderate fungal nail infections, there are many different options when it comes to topical anti-fungal nail medicaments, a podiatrist can let you know which one to use. The treatment is used until the infection has fully grown out.
Oral anti-fungal medication
A course of oral anti-fungal medication may be advised if the infection is severe or has failed to clear with using other methods. The medication can only be obtained through your GP at their discretion, if a podiatrist deems this is suitable, they can write a prescription request to the GP practice. Oral anti-fungal medication is the most effective anti-fungal treatment, a tablet is taken daily for anything from 3-18 months until the infection has cleared.
The lacuna method or nail fenestration is a method whereby micro-holes are drilled directly into the nail plate to allow topical anti-fungal ointments to penetrate to the nail bed. This is suitable for mild/moderate infections where this is not a great deal thickening to the nail plate.
Nail reconstruction can provide an aesthetically more pleasing appearance to the nail, it will not cure the fungal nail infection but will make it appear to be a healthy nail. The practitioner will reduce the underlying nail and use a resin to build up a natural looking nail plate. This should not be left in place more than 8 weeks.
PACT stands for Photodynamic Antimicrobial Therapy, it is a safe, painless treatment that destroys the fungus and allow a health nail to grow out. A gel is applied to the nail which makes fungus susceptible to the LED light which is then applied to the nail to destroy the fungus. A course of three treatments is required in a one-week period and follow up reviews are conducted every 1-2 months thereafter until clear regrowth is noted. This is suitable for mild/moderate infections only.
If a fungal nail is causing discomfort, nail surgery may be indicated to permanently remove the nail. The nail is removed under a local anaesthetic and a chemical is applied to the root so it does not regrow.
Following an assessment with your podiatrist, you will be offered advice on the most suitable and beneficial treatment option available. Further advice will be given on the maintenance of healthy feet and reducing the chance of developing further fungal skin/nail infections. Once someone has developed a fungal nail/skin infection they are generally more prone to this type of infection therefore it is important to keep up with maintenance to reduce the risk of reinfection
If you have a problem with your foot or lower limb, and you are unsure whether or not podiatry can help you, then why not contact us.
Download our Fungal nail treatment information pack
Fungal nail treatment
For more information about the services that are available or to book an assessment please call 0161 883 0099
Our clinics are open Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm, and 9am - 4pm on Saturday. We can usualy see you within 24 - 48 hours. Sometimes same-day appointments are available.
Manchester Podiatry offers a range of podiatry services that are suitable for all individuals. This means that whether young or old, amateur or elite athlete - Manchester Podiatry can help you!
Manchester Podiatry is a leading provider of quality podiatric assessment and treatment services in Manchester and Merseyside.
We are part of Chiropody.co.uk - We provide immediate access to a high quality, value for money bespoke podiatry service. Our podiatrists provide specialist treatments to meet the needs of individuals, case managers, solicitors, organisations, care homes, and sport teams.