I am a Chiropodist, or Podiatrist (depending on where you live) and I feel that the public need to be educated away from some « health gurus ».
Some of these health people are just the general public and some are unqualified clinicians. I have no quibbles in other health professionals talking about footcare, I don’t, honest, but you really have to give the patient true advice, and not just « what you think ». Many books and many websites do not convey the true treatment, cause and actually if the nail is fungus or not. Scary but very true.
The role of the toenail fungus has been widely exaggerated to a point where there are now miracles happening. Anything ranging from the odd « cure your fungus in a day » to some really dangerous « new remedy that I perfected, that the Doctors don’t want you to hear ».
Facts are these: Your toenails grow at a staggeringly slow rate, about 12-18 months from base to the tip, so any cure that states that your toenail fungus will go in 24 hours is not telling 100% of the truth. Secondly, Doctors (Chiropodists/ Podiatrists, not GPs) will not keep this thing a secret. It is widely available information on a problem that can be got rid of.
What we really have to think about though is that not all thick nails are actually toenail fungus. A toenail fungus is actually characterized by yellow/ discoloration, thickening, spongy when clipped and has a « moth eaten » appearance. It is also caused by a dermatophyte, something that loves skin and nails because they eat keratin- a major component of these systems. They usually work their way from the tops of the nail down to the base. If it is a Candida infection then it will go from the base to the tip of the toenail.
Oh, and by the way. When they say infection, all it really means is that it is contagious to skin and nails. So if you cut your other nails with some clippers from an infected nail then that nail will become infected. It doesn’t affect internal organs etc.
But if you have no signs of a toenail fungus, then there is a likeliness that you haven’t got one.
1 — If your toe nails are clawed and have thickened toenails then that is because of microtrauma hitting the nail as you walk. The nail doesn’t want to be broken so the body has a great remedy for this. It builds the nail up so that it will not become traumatized. So you get irreversible thickening of the toenails.
2 — If you just have thickening of the little toes then that could easily be because of shoewear. If you put your foot onto the floor and apply weight, it splays. So it gets wider. Your little toes will hit tight shoes, and if you wear those shoes constantly for many years then microtrauma kicks in again and thickens up that nail. Hence, women who tend to have thinner, ill fitting shoes tend to suffer with this problem.
3 — Microtrauma can occur over time. Small little whacks over a long time frame. But the same can occur when you hit your toe or nail once with one big whack. This can damage the area from where the nail grows from and cause thickening.
However, once the nail becomes damaged there is a high possibility that the nail could have a fungus enter it and then start the process. However in that situation, it doesn’t matter how many anti-fungal treatments you do get, it will not stop the thickening.
Testing the nail will prove that I have a fungus right?
Testing is one of the best methods coming second only to experience to determine if a nail is fungus or not. However (and this could easily be another article, if not a book) lab testing is flawed, and it is flawed because of collection methods, transportation methods and cost. If your results come back negative even though the toenail is truly a fungus toenail, then don’t worry. It is one of those 3 ground in problems.
So before you even jump for a toenail fungus treatment, first decide whether you have a toenail fungus to start with. In many cases you probably don’t.