If you're embarrassed to wear sandals because you have a toenail infection, you should talk to a podiatrist about effective treatment options. You can buy products over the counter to treat nail fungus, but they often don't work very well because the fungus is buried under your toenail where topical medications can't reach. Here are a few treatment options your podiatrist might try.

Anti-Fungal Medications

In order to reach the fungus growing under the nail, your podiatrist may need to prescribe oral medication for you to take. If not, he or she may give you medication to apply to your toe. The medication you get from a podiatrist is stronger than what you can get over the counter, and it is matched to your type of infection so it has a better chance of working. Your podiatrist will probably take a small sample of the infection and have it tested at a lab so the most effective medication can be prescribed. Fungal infections are noted for being difficult to get rid of, so you have to be patient. It may take a few months for your infection to clear.

Surgical Removal Of Your Toenail

Your podiatrist may decide the best way to treat the infection is to remove your toenail. That will make it much easier for you to apply medication directly to the infection. Another reason to have your toenail removed is when it is damaged by the infection. Fungus causes your nail to become discolored and thick. That makes it hard to trim, and you could develop problems with an ingrown nail. The nail may even make you uncomfortable when you wear shoes. You may have less pain and discomfort with the nail removed, and once the infection has cleared, it will grow back. However, if you have a chronic infection that keeps coming back, your podiatrist may permanently remove the nail to help keep the fungus at bay.

Laser Treatments

Your podiatrist may treat your fungus problem with a laser. The good thing about a laser is that the light can penetrate your toenail and reach the fungus. Just like fungus doesn't like to grow in sunlight, the fungus under your toenail won't like to be exposed to a laser light. You may need to take a series of treatments spread over a few months to completely kill all the fungus and restore the health of your nail.

One thing you don't want to do is postpone seeking treatment. Toenail fungus rarely clears up on its own since it is in a protected environment. As the infection progresses, more and more damage is done to your nail. You may eventually experience pain that interferes with walking. Plus, a minor infection is easier to clear up than a more severe one. Also, remember that fungus is contagious. If you let your infection go untreated, it could spread to your other toes and even your fingernails.

For more information, contact Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle or a similar location.