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Perhaps the best way to prevent a fungal toenail infection is not to go barefoot at public pools or locker rooms. When you go to the nail salon, be sure the equipment is properly cleaned.

Although they may not hurt, it is best to treat fungal infections early. Untreated fungal infections can become very painful, making it difficult to walk and uncomfortable to wear shoes.

Doctors prescribe topical ointments or oral medication depending on how much the fungus has grown. Fungal nail infections are not life threatening. It can take years before the infection becomes large enough to cause pain or difficulty walking.

Nail Problems

This page relates to three of the most common nail problems:

   * Ingrown nails

   * Fungal nails

   * Psoriatic nails.   

If you're interested in the structure of the nail and medical terms relating to the nail, visit our web page on nail anatomy and glossary of nail conditions.  We have another page that discusses some basic surgical nail procedures.  

Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail is probably the most common abnormality involving the nail, and we see this problem in our office on a daily basis.  Simply put, an ingrown nail is a condition in which the nail is growing into the flesh.   

The condition may involve one border or both, and is accompanied by redness, warmth, swelling, and quite frequently, infection.  

The amount of pain the patient experiences varies, depending upon one's age, gender, circulation, and general medical condition.  As a rule, smokers will have more pain than non-smokers.  

While the problem is often dismissed as inconsequential (at least by those who have never experienced the problem), it should not be taken lightly.  Just a couple generations ago, in the era before antibiotics, an ingrown toenail that developed into an infection could kill people.  Even today, if the patient has compromised circulation or diabetes, the condition may frequently lead to loss of a limb.

Ingrown toenail may be caused by:

   * Improperly trimmed nails (Trim then straight across, not longer than the tip of the toes. Do not cut down the corners.)

   * Heredity

   * Shoe pressure; crowding of toes in poorly-fitting shoes.

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