Those toenails can cause so much anxiety and stress. Even if they do not hurt in closed shoes, the thickened, discolored appearance can be unsightly and cause uneasiness about whether or not your feet are clean. It is this mental anguish that is preyed upon by the marketing departments of big Pharma when the commercials on TV espouse the need to take pills to treat this disorder.
But hold on. Do not rush out and buy over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments. Most, if not all, will fail to cure the problem. And the issue is the nail's appearance, the thickened, yellowing, white and brittle changes that occur over time. Most topical treatments will fail for a multitude of reasons, with the most important reason being that the culprit may not even be a fungus.
Topical treatments vary is the way they penetrate the nail, which is composed of hardened keratin, which is a part of the skin. Keratin can be found in the hair follicles as well. It is what makes those fabulous Elephant tusks and Rhino horns. And it is a form of defense against the elements.
The reaction of keratin to these elements is compounded by the daily rigors of everyday life. These rigors include walking, running, jumping, climbing, standing, all in various shoe gear that can by too tight or too loss. The nails are also victims of repetitive trauma, like dropping things on them, kicking walls and bedframes, or just wearing tight-fitting shoes. One very common reaction is thickening of the nail in response to these traumatic events.
Thickening of the nails can be likened to callus formation on the bottom of the feet or on the palms of the hands when the affected areas are exposed to overuse and abuse. You don't take a pill to get rid of the thickened skin. The nails, although a form of skin, are significantly different. Toenails and fingernails grow slowly over time, last for months before a new nail grows out. Skin regenerates every month, so trauma to the skin is more easily treated vs. the nails.
Treatment of toenail changes should start with a visit to you Podiatrist. Let the doctor take a culture which involves a snipping of the toenail, sending it to a lab to verify if there is a fungus or yeast or some other issue. If it is a fungus then the treatments can vary from topical creams and gels to oral pills. The pills work best against true fungal infections; they penetrate the nail as it grows over the course of three months. But the pills can be combined with topical treatments like Urea Gels which penetrate the nail with some fungal-killing elements.
Have you ever felt a sharp pain at the tip of your great toe, noticed it was a bit swollen, red, and angry looking? And then you'd chalk it up to tigh...