Should you dig out toenail fungus?

You should keep your toenails well trimmed, but you should also cut them in a straight line and at about the same height with the tip of your toe. Both types of nail extraction can be done by a dermatologist in a doctor's office or clinic. With either procedure, the nail can grow back. However, if the infection doesn't go away, the dermatologist can treat the nail so it doesn't grow back.

However, the good news is that toenail fungus doesn't usually cause major medical problems. With this in mind, I generally recommend healthy adult patients with mild toenail fungus not to treat them or to treat them only with topical measures. For example, you can polish your nail with a file to keep it fine, so that the fungus has less space to live in. You should also keep your nail trimmed.

If you let your toenails grow long, more places are created for the fungus to grow. Toenail fungus can be difficult to treat and many cases can take months to go away. If the condition is severe, surgery may be an option to consider. Surgery to treat toenail fungus involves removing the toenail and applying antifungal medications directly on the nail bed.

Another option is to have your nail removed permanently to prevent any recurrence. Unfortunately, there are no home remedies or over-the-counter treatments that actually work against toenail fungus. A fungal toenail infection may start as a white or yellow spot under the toenail and have no other symptoms. This can make the fungus very difficult to get rid of because the cells that make up the rest of the toenail are infected.

If toenail fungus isn't severe, doesn't bother you especially, or isn't visible (because you keep it hidden under your socks and shoes), you may feel like you can “wait for them to pass” and delay treatment. This increases the risk that the nail will start to stick into the sides of the toe as it grows, which can cause the toenails to become ingrown and nail fungus to form. Surgical removal seems like a stretch, but if toenail fungus has become painful, it's a safe option that promotes the growth of a new, healthy nail. Fungal infections are more likely to occur on toenails than fingernails, because toenails are often confined to a dark, warm, and humid environment inside the shoes, where fungi can thrive.

If toenail fungus doesn't respond to home treatment, see your podiatrist for evaluation. If toenail fungus is left untreated, it can cause other problems, such as permanent nail loss or disfigurement. Many cases of toenail fungus are mild and may not bother you, so you may not even realize that you have a fungal infection. Toenail fungus is a common condition that starts as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the toenail of the foot.

Untreated toenail fungus can also cause a bacterial infection that can spread to other areas of the body and the bloodstream.