If you're undergoing treatment for toenail fungus, you may be wondering if it's working. The good news is that antifungal treatments are believed to be effective in treating 60 to 80% of fungal nail infections. To determine if your treatment is successful, you should look for signs of a new, healthy nail starting to grow from the base of the nail over the course of a few months. Your healthcare provider will likely take a small sample from under the nail for further analysis.
Examining the cells under a microscope can confirm the diagnosis of toenail fungus. If the initial test is negative, a sample may be sent to see if the fungus grows in culture. This also helps your healthcare provider identify the type of fungus. Infected nails are often thicker than normal and may be misshapen or oddly shaped.
Fungal nails may look yellow. Sometimes, a white dot appears on the nail and then it gets bigger. When fungi accumulate under the nail, they can loosen and even separate the nail from the bed. The fungus can also spread to the skin around the nail.
Toenails usually grow less than 2 mm per month and the infection has to fully grow before a toenail from fungus can be considered “cured”. Your healthcare provider will direct a high-tech laser beam and special lights toward your toenail to treat the fungus. Humid and warm environments encourage fungi growth, and the nail bed is an ideal home when it comes to toenail fungus. The most effective treatment for toenail fungus will largely depend on your symptoms and situation.
Talk to your healthcare provider about the pros and cons of treating toenail fungus to determine what's best for you. Because toenail fungus can look like other conditions, including psoriasis, it's a good idea to have your toenail checked by a doctor. If you spend a lot of time in water or injure your toenail, your chances of getting toenail fungus increase. Toenail fungus occurs when fungi get between the toenail and the nail bed (the tissue just below the toenail).
Usually, with proper treatment, getting rid of toenail fungus takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and possibly longer.