Nail fungus is a common condition that may cause your nail to discolor, thicken, and crumble around the edges. Routinely nail fungus is treated for aesthetic reasons, but in many cases it can result in a painful situation.
What is nail fungus anyway? It is called onychomycosis; when it infects the area between your toes it is called tinea pedis (athlete's foot).
If your nail fungus is painful and/or has caused thinkened nails, there are a few self-care steps and medications that may be tried. Even when treatment produces improved results, nail fungus often comes back and needs to be treated routinely to obtain the best results.
Seeking a podiatrist for treatment is appropriate if initial self-care efforts are not effective. Their professional input can best help determine for certain what the exact cause is. For example, it could be either a fungal or a yeast infection. After a correct lab diagnosis is obtained, solutions may include more effective creams, medicated nail polish, oral antifungal drugs, or a painless laser treatment regime.
In any case, remember two important things. After treatment begins, improvement only shows as the newer, healthy nail grows---so be patient. And remember this is a condition that needs to be continually stayed on top of as it tends to return if left on its own.