Nail Fungus

Nail Fungus

Kitagawa Dermatology is proud to treat patients for a number of dermatological issues, including fingernail and toenail infection. For many, nail fungus can cause unsightly issues with the feet that affect self-confidence and can even interfere with both personal and professional activities when left untreated. Dr. Kitagawa and his caring staff of skin care specialists in Honolulu will address your areas of concern and provide nail fungus treatment options and fungal infection preventative measures.

Oahu native Dr. Kory Kitagawa specializes in medical and cosmetic dermatology from his skin, nail, and hair care center in Honolulu. His easygoing, compassionate manner makes patients young and old feel safe and confident about their skin care issues. For nail fungus treatment options and other medical services, contact the experienced skin care team at Kitagawa Dermatology today.

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What Is Nail Fungus?

Nearly 1 in 10 Americans is affected by a nail condition medically known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium, a nail fungus infection that is responsible for about half of all nail abnormalities, affecting both fingernails and toenails. Fungal infections are much more common in adults than in children, and the older you get, the more susceptible you are to getting infected.

What are the Symptoms of Nail Fungal Infections?

The symptoms of a toenail fungus are not difficult to notice, as the nail is usually thickened yet brittle or crumbly with a ragged, distorted appearance. It also appears yellowish or dark-colored. The infected nail can also separate from the nail bed, which can also be painful and even sometimes give off a foul odor.

If you or your doctor suspects a nail infection based on the above symptoms, your doctor can give you two types of tests to diagnose any fungus infection. First, your doctor will scrape any debris out from under your toenail or fingernail. Then he or she will use a potassium hydroxide (KOH) smear to examine the debris. Results from this test can be known rather quickly. Another test, a fungal culture, can also produce diagnostic results, but it can take several weeks to know them.

What Causes Onychomycosis?

Nail fungus is caused by fungi, microscopic organisms that require no sunlight to survive. While some yeasts and molds can cause an infection, the group of fungi usually responsible is called dermatophytes.

The pathogens that cause a nail fungal infection typically enter the skin through tiny openings in the skin or between the nail and nail bed. If this environment is warm and moist enough, the fungi will flourish.

Men are more likely to get toenail or fingernail fungal infection than women are, as are older people more likely than younger people. Additionally, genetics can play a role – if there’s a history in your family of nail infections, then you might be more at risk.

Any activity that causes you to perspire, such as certain exercises or working in a warm, humid environment, puts you at greater risk, as well. This is especially true if you already have poor or reduced blood circulation or if you wear socks that don’t allow your feet proper ventilation.

Finally, walking barefoot in a public place certainly exposes you to more risk of infection. Any time you visit a public swimming pool, gym, or shower room, wearing sandals or flip-flops, at the very least, will drastically reduce your exposure to nail fungal infection.

What Nail Fungus Treatment Plan Should I Consider?

The nail fungus treatment process can be arduous and costly. Many fungal infection treatments have also proven ineffective, such as over-the-counter ointments and creams.

Oral antifungal medications, including Fluconazole (Diflucan) and Itraconazole (Sporanox), are effective but can take as many as six months to fully replace an infected fingernail with an uninfected one and up to one year for a toenail. Topical nail fungus treatments include an antifungal lacquer such as ciclopirox (Penlac), which can effectively clear up these fungus infections but rarely cures them completely.In the case of an extreme nail fungal infections where no medication has succeeded, then a physician might choose to remove the entire nail.

In the case of an extreme nail fungal infections where no medication has succeeded, then a physician might choose to remove the entire nail.

How Can Tinea Unguium Be Prevented?

Nail fungus infections can be prevented, but you have to be diligent in taking the appropriate preventative measures. In essence, it means following proper hygiene for your hands and feet.

The following are good options to keep in mind:

  • Maintain your nails – keep them short, dry, and clean
  • Wear breathable socks
  • Use an anti-fungal spray or powder
  • Refrain from biting you nails
  • Wear some type of footwear (e.g., sandals) in public places such as swimming pools
  • Avoid nail polish or fake nails
  • Don’t share shoes and socks
  • If you enjoy manicures and/or pedicures, make sure the stylist is using properly sterilized tools

Consult Dr. Kitagawa for Nail Infection Treatment in Honolulu

Toenail and fingernail fungus infections can be painful and embarrassing. If you suspect your symptoms are due to a nail fungal infection, you should contact the staff at Kitagawa Dermatology in Hawaii right away for nail fungus treatment and advice on how to remove nail fungi.

The Kitagawa Dermatology team is comprised of experienced skin care specialists who will tailor a nail fungus treatment plan designed specifically for your unique situation. If you have any questions about this or another skin care issue, contact Kitagawa Dermatology online or call 808.533.4434 today. The office is located in the Kuakini Medical Plaza in Honolulu.

Next, read about Psoriasis.