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Ask the Doctor: How Do I Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus?

Questions that may be too embarrassing to ask…

Sunita Anantaneni, DPM

"I enjoy having a pedicure; however, I’ve heard they may be a potential source of infection. Is this true?"

Unfortunately, it can be true. Problems seen from nail salons involve skin/nail infections, warts and bacterial infections. Sharp tools used during pedicures can break the skin and if the same instruments are used on more than one customer without proper disinfection, there is the possibility of spreading infections. Foot baths also can be a source of infection since small breaks or cuts in the skin or cuticle may allow bacteria or fungi to enter. When looking for a salon, use common sense and look for basic signs of sanitary standards, such as clean bathrooms and disinfected foot baths. If possible, bring your own pedicure utensils or at least your own emery board. Other tips include not allowing any sharp objects under the toenails, avoiding moisture between the toes and avoid cutting the cuticles. Patients with circulatory issues or diseases, such as diabetes, should check with their podiatrist before having a pedicure.

“How do I get rid of toenail fungus so I won’t be embarrassed to wear sandals this summer?”

Toenail fungus can be embarrassing, painful and sometimes difficult to treat. To clarify the symptoms, toenail fungus is when the nail develops yellow or white discoloration, thickens and, in the more advanced stages, becomes brittle, crumbly, and loose and may even fall off. The pressure from the thickness of the nail can cause pain and ingrown nails. There may have been exposure to the fungus months before any symptoms appear. There are over-the-counter topical medications, prescription topical medications and oral prescription medications, to treat fungus, all of which have their benefits and risks. No matter which treatment(s) are used, it usually takes months to note improvement. Talk to your podiatrist regarding the options based on your individual needs and health concerns.

Dr. Sunita Anantaneni is board-certified in podiatric surgery and reconstructive/rear foot ankle surgery.  She earned her degree in podiatric medicine from Dr. William Scholl College. She completed her internship at North Chicago VA Hospital and her residency at St. Joseph Hospital-Chicago.

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