New fungal nail test available at Kenilworth Footcare
Now that the temperature is warming up, it is time to shed our socks and boots, don our sandals and let our feet breath for a couple of months. But for some people, summer brings a sense of dread… at the thought of exposing their unsightly toenails to the world. There are various causes of dystrophic nails: trauma to the nail bed; poor peripheral circulation; psoriasis; over-use of nail varnish, and the dreaded fungal infection.
How can you find out what has caused your toe nail problem? When we see a client with less than perfect toe nails, we take a detailed medical history as this may give us a clue. We are also fairly good at spotting the signs, BUT research that even experts (dermatologists and podiatrists) who see these cases on a regular basis, are only right 67% of the time. (That means we get 1 out of 3 wrong…) The problem has been, in the past, that the traditional test of taking clippings, sending them to a lab to be cultured, and then analysed 2-3 weeks later under a microscope, was notorious for giving false results.
However, a new test is now available that gives 97% accuracy AND is completed in only 5 minutes within the clinic. A little like a pregnancy test, small pieces of nail are mixed with a solution. A test strip is then dipped and a colour change indicates the presence of dermatophytes (the organisms that cause infection). We are now able to give you a firm diagnosis before the end of your treatment session (no more phoning the GP surgery 3 weeks later).
Once we know what we are dealing with, an appropriate treatment plan can be devised. All thickened nails, whatever the cause, can be improved cosmetically by careful clipping and filing. If it is confirmed that you have a fungal infection, your GP may prescribe oral medication (a good success rate, but possible side-effects mean this isn’t for everyone). We stock a range of topical treatments: Loceryl, Emtrix and Mykored, which all have a reasonable success rate. Another option is laser treatment for which we can refer you to another clinic. Whichever option you plump for, the treatment time is lengthy as it must be continued until a new, healthy nail replaces the damaged nail tissue (this can take up to 12 months for big toe nails). Ignoring the problem is not an option we recommend as infection can spread to other nails and to other members of the family. The pressure of a thickened nail can make footwear uncomfortable and in some cases, pressure sores can develop under the nail bed. Secondary bacterial infections are also a risk.
So if you are ashamed of your nails, don’t just reach for the nearest over the counter remedy – come to us first. You’ll get an accurate diagnosis, expert advice and treatment.
For more information on looking after your nails, read our previous blog here