Put Your Best Foot Forward

I was on a cruise and was surrounded by sandals, flip-flops, and bare feet everywhere. It’s that lovely rite of passage for traveling spring breakers! Finally, your feet can breathe after being cooped up in boots, socks and snow shoes. But what do you really uncover when you take the socks off? If you look down and see cracked, brittle discolored toenails, you may be suffering from a fungal infection. Not so pretty in open-toed shoes.

So what causes a fungal infection? Age is most certainly a factor as well as certain health conditions, such as diabetes or other conditions that limit circulation in your feet. The fungus feeds on the nail and leaves behind a damaged nail. Also, make sure you dry your feet completely when you get out of the shower or bath.

Can it be cured? It can but early detection is key. You may have seen commercials for such treatments as Jublia or Kerydin. These topical solutions work very well. However, if the infection is more severe, i.e. the nail itself is raised, thick or appears to be showing signs of continued discoloration, a more intense treatment may be needed.  Check with your doctor before beginning any type of oral medication, as some require random checks for affects on your liver enzymes.  A newer form of treatment is with the use of lasers and is upwards of 80 percent more effective than topical solutions.

If you notice ongoing discoloration in the nail bed, don’t wait. This could be a form of skin cancer, which is sometimes detected late as it is buried in the nail bed. If you have annual visits to your family physician and/or podiatrist, it is a best practice to make a note of any changes and point out to your doctor. However, as previously mentioned, if you notice something that does not look as it should, make an appointment immediately and seek treatment.

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