Fungal infections are highly contagious and common, especially in the foot and toe area. Fungus spores can infect both the skin of the foot and the area under the nail bed, leading to two different conditions. When the fungus infects the skin of the foot, this condition is called athlete’s foot. When the fungal infection is under the toenail this condition is called onychomycosis, or toenail fungus. Both conditions are very commonly found but have different symptoms and treatment options.
The causes of athlete’s foot and toenail fungus are very similar. Both conditions are contagious, so it is possible to catch them from somebody else when walking barefoot or sharing shoes. Fungus thrives in warm, damp environments, so it is easier for it to grow when the feet are kept in sweaty socks for too long. Both conditions can be prevented by avoiding walking barefoot in shared or public spaces, changing socks immediately after working out, and not sharing shoes, socks, or nail clippers.
Toenail fungus usually shows itself in the form of discoloration, brittleness, thickening or cracking of the nail. Athlete’s foot usually shows itself as a scaly rash coupled with itching and burning of the foot. The fungus causing athlete’s foot can also spread to the nail bed and cause a fungal infection of the nails.
Treatment for athlete’s foot usually involves topical antifungal medications. These can both be prescribed by a podiatrist or bought over the counter, and are effective at treating the fungus because they can penetrate the skin. Topical antifungals are less effective at treating toenail fungus because they have to penetrate the nail to kill fungus under the nail bed. For this reason, topical antifungals are usually too ineffective to kill nail fungus. Other treatments include oral medications, which can have very dangerous side effects. The best treatment for toenail fungus is the PinPointe laser, which typically requires only one treatment to kill the fungus with no side effects or downtime. To schedule a consultation with a podiatrist for the PinPointe laser treatment, give us a call at 1-(800) 672-0625 or visit our website for more information.