Fungal Infections

Most foot infections are fungal in nature, and the two primary fungal infections that affect the feet are toenail fungus (onychomycosis) and athlete's foot (tinea pedis).

Fungal foot infections can impact your quality of life. Affected nails become unsightly as they thicken and discolor and are painful when wearing closed shoes. Furthermore, affected skin is likely to be itchy and uncomfortable and if you have an untreated fungal infection, you are at risk of being caught in a cycle of reinfection.

Regardless of the type of fungal foot infection you have, our specialist doctors will be able to correctly diagnose and treat your condition effectively.


Toenail Fungus (Onychomycosis)

Onychomycosis is a slow-growing fungal infection beneath the toenail that affects between 2 and 8% of adults in the western world. It often spreads from fungal skin infections such as athlete’s foot and is more common in people who have peripheral vascular disease or a weakened immune system.

What are the signs and symptoms of a toenail fungus infection?

A fungal infection usually starts at the free edge of the nail, spreading down the side of the nail towards the base and can cover the whole nail. Depending on the type of infection, the affected areas may become white, green, black or yellowish, and may thicken and/or flake. In other cases, there may be superficial white spots, and the infected nails can separate from the nail bed.

Large toenails are the most frequently affected, and infection occurs when the nail or skin around the nails is weakened, making them vulnerable to infection.

What treatments are available?

Onychomycosis is difficult to treat as the application of topical cream is unable to penetrate the infected nails. Oral antifungal treatments are usually prescribed, and it can take upwards of 6 months for the nail to grow back.

Other interventions that we may prescribe include antifungal nail lacquers and nail-softening kits, although they are not as effective as oral medication. But, as oral medications do come with side effects and risks, they may not be suitable for in some cases. It’s for this reason that it’s important to consult with a specialist as they will be able to advise on the best treatment protocol taking your specific needs into account.

In some cases, non-oral onychomycosis surgical interventions are necessary where tiny holes are made in the nail plate to allow for the micro penetration of topical treatments at high concentrations.

When should you see a doctor?

  • Expert medical intervention is necessary if you have:
  • Thickened, brittle, misshapen or discolored nails
  • An infection of the skin around the nails
  • An infection that is resistant to topical treatment
    A pre-existing condition such as diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy or suppressed immunity that makes you at high risk of developing complications

Athlete's Foot (Tinea Pedis)

If you have noticed a rash, redness, or flaking skin between your toes, it’s most likely that you have Athlete’s Foot. Also known as ringworm of the foot, athlete’s foot is caused by a microscopic fungus that lives on dead tissue. The fungus thrives in warm, moist conditions and spreads easily.

What are the signs and symptoms of athlete’s foot?

  • Symptoms vary from person to person and can include:
  • Peeling and cracking of the skin on the feet
  • Redness and blisters
  • Breaking down of the skin
  • An itching or burning sensation (often between the toes)

What treatments are available?

Both topical and systematic treatments are available, and the best course of action will be recommended by your doctor.

When should you see a doctor?

Expert intervention from a specialist medical professional is necessary if your athlete’s foot:

  • Looks infected
  • Has developed ulcers
  • Has spread to your toenails
  • Is persistent and doesn’t clear up despite the use of topical treatments

Healing from Fungal Infections at Northwest Surgical Specialists

Our Foot and Ankle Surgical Clinic was established to provide expert intervention for foot-related conditions and injuries. Our team of specialists has the experience and expertise to ensure that you receive effective, targeted treatment for your fungal conditions.