Help! My Fungal Toenails Keep Coming Back
Some conditions, mercifully, can only be contracted once in a lifetime. After your immune system beats them back (or you get a vaccine), the antibodies remain in your system indefinitely to prevent reinfection.
Chickenpox is the classic example. Measles and smallpox, too. There’s some encouraging signs that COVID-19 might be this way, although that hasn’t been proven.
Other illnesses, meanwhile, can keep coming back again and again and again. The common cold is an obvious example. Unfortunately, so are fungal toenails. And that can be extremely frustrating, since the symptoms can be really unsightly—and also take a long time to get rid of.
If you keep getting fungal toenails over and over again, you may have finally given up. But we have good news for you:
- You CAN break the cycle.
- Laser therapy can help you get rid of your current infection faster and easier than ever before.
To learn more, read on.
Why Do My Fungal Nails Keep Returning?
Simply put: your toenails keep getting exposed to the fungus that causes it.
Of course, that’s not a very helpful answer—you need to know where and why. The answer to that question will vary from person to person, but here are some of the most common scenarios:
- Sweaty socks and shoes. Fungi love dark, sweaty spaces—and your shoes fit the bill nicely. This is especially true if you’ve had fungal nails in the past and not gotten your shoes treated. If the fungi lives on in your shoes, they can infect you again and again.
- Athlete’s foot. The exact same types of fungi that cause fungal toenails also cause athlete’s foot, not to mention other common fungal skin infections like ringworm. Fungi can easily jump from the nails to the skin and back again, re-infecting the same (or new) nails.
- Exposure to infected objects or surfaces. This is a broad category, but it can include things like walking barefoot in communal spaces where the fungi are likely to reside (pool decks, locker rooms), sharing linens, sharing foot and nail care products, etc.
- Incomplete or not fully effective prior treatment. If your last attempt at treatment improved your symptoms but did not fully eliminate the fungi, they can start to rebound once treatment stops.
In addition, there may be several factors that would cause one person to be naturally more susceptible to developing toenail fungus than another person.
The biggest one is having a weaker or compromised immune system, which can be the product of a specific condition (for example diabetes) or just the natural result of aging.
However, there are also purely environmental factors to consider, such as the climate, your job responsibilities, or your hobbies. (Generally speaking, the hotter and more humid the environment, or the less “breathable” your required footwear, the greater the risk.)
However, this does not mean fungal toenails are an inevitable consequence of aging, certain conditions, or certain occupations! It just means you may have less room for error when it comes to preventative care.
How Do I Break the Cycle?
There are two basic steps here.
- Step one: Fully and completely eradicate the infection with effective professional treatment.
- Step two: Continue to practice good preventative care.
Let’s take a closer look at both steps to get the full picture.
Step One: Effective Professional Treatment
We’ll be honest with you: fungal toenails can be very, very stubborn. Most home treatments are minimally effective at best. Even the currently most prescribed treatment, oral antifungal drugs, have a somewhat spotty track record of success (60-80 percent effectiveness) to go along with a moderate risk of side effects.
Yet as we mentioned above, complete eradication of the infection is a necessary first step in breaking the cycle. So if your previous efforts haven’t gotten the job done, it’s time to step up your treatment game.
We have helped our patients achieve incredible treatment success using combination therapy, which involves “pulse dosing” antifungal medications alongside 3-4 monthly laser therapy sessions.
It’s much harder for the fungi to resist this combination of methods than either one alone. Essentially you’re attacking the infection on two fronts—from the inside out with medication, and from the outside in with laser therapy.
If the idea of using a “laser” is freaking you out a bit, don’t worry! The truth is that this is one of the absolute safest treatment technologies a doctor will ever use on you. The laser does not hurt, does not damage your skin or body in any way, does not require any additional medications or downtime to function, and has no known side effects.
And because we’re only “pulse dosing” the oral meds (1 week per month) instead of having you on them daily for 12 weeks, your risk of any adverse reaction to them is also greatly reduced.
We have found this treatment procedure to be not only very safe for the vast majority of patients, but also the most effective way to stamp out an infection completely. Check out our service page on fungal toenails to learn more.
Step 2: Good Preventative Care
You’ve come this far. Now is not the time to lose focus! Preventative measures for fungal toenails aren’t difficult or time-consuming, but you do have to be disciplined and consistent.
Some of the most important guidelines include the following:
- Disinfect your shoes. We’d recommend using an antifungal powder or spray in your shoes on a daily basis. Keep the environment as hostile as possible for fungi!
- Rotate your shoes. In addition to disinfecting them after each use, swap shoes at least every other day to give each pair as much time to dry out as possible.
- Choose breathable fabrics. Keep your feet cool with moisture-wicking socks and breathable shoe uppers.
- Replace sweaty shoes and socks immediately. Even if it’s the middle of the day.
- Treat skin infections immediately. Don’t give a new case of athlete’s foot or ringworm a chance to spread to the toes.
- Don’t go barefoot in public places. Always have a pair of shower shoes or sandals for locker rooms, pool decks, or showers.
- Wash your feet every day. Use warm water and mild soap.
- Keep your toenails neatly trimmed. Avoid cutting nails too short or rounding the corners. Use a sturdy pair of toenail clippers, and never share nail care tools with anyone else.
- Avoid excessive use of nail polish. Even clear coats can reduce the ability of the nails to breathe. You can wear polish for a week or so, then take at least a couple of weeks off.
Let’s Get Those Clear Nails Back … For Good!
We know you’re frustrated. We know you may feel like giving up. Most people do after they’ve been around this cycle a few times.
But it doesn’t have to be this way! You don’t have to put up with fungal toenails forever. And if you’ve never tried combination therapy before, or you haven’t given preventative measures your full effort (or simply didn’t know what to do), then there is a great chance we can help you finally break free from constant reinfection.
To schedule your appointment, give us a call today at (816) 246-4222.