“ Antiseptics / Dosage Form: Treatment / Type: Skin Care „
Ok now before you go yuk what on earth is this all about? - I have to confess 5 years ago I went yuk too! I went on holiday to a cottage which was shall we say- not the cleanest in the world. I had to use buckets of Dettol and generally clean it before any of us dared use the bathroom. Needless to say I haven't been back to it since.
However, the thing is I received a present from that holiday which I actually didn't want. I must first of all explain that I am the queen of cleanliness next only to that awesome duo Kim and Aggie, and wallow in baths of bubbles twice a day. So you can imagine the shock I had when I discovered something when I came to remove my red toe polish. Now look away now and skip on if you are squeamish because half my big toe had a fungal nail infection and worst the nail was coming away from the nail bed. Horrid, horrid, horrid -you could probably hear my screams at the North Pole-I really made more noise than giving birth.
Now being a nurse I knew that 5 years ago the best treatment was going to be a course of tablets and I also knew that I was not alone (though felt mortified), because actually 3 out of 100 of us will get this at some point in our lives. It often starts as an athlete's foot infection between the toes, which can go unnoticed until it is severe. Then it will then be itchy and by that time may have spread to the toes. It actually has a posh name- onychomycosis which somehow sounds less yucky!
The infection is actually quite common in young people who spend a lot of time in sports changing rooms using communal showers, as the fungus loves moist warm conditions. Diabetics also succumb to this as they have a higher incidence of infections generally. Also ladies if you paint your nails, especially with dark colours, it is often a good idea to take it off for a few days to let the nail have a rest, since I usually give myself a pedicure every 6 weeks I was unaware of what was going on under my red toe polish. It is quite common in those of us who like painted nails. It is also common in runners who live in trainers, so try and wear shoes which allow your feet to breathe and also wear cotton socks.
So What Are The Symptoms?
Well it looks dreadful! The nail gets thickened and horribly discoloured it can turn green, yellow or even black and under the nail bed it is crumbly and if you try to clean it with an orange stick it all comes out !-Sorry.
Worse the nail can start to break away from the nail bed and bits break off or hang off.
It can also be painful but mine was not thank goodness.
To be honest until I had this I had never really noticed it on other people but looking around in the summertime I have seen so many sad looking crusty toes in open sandals.
So what Can You Do?
Well you can visit the GP for a diagnosis if you are not sure and often he will send off a nail sample to see if it is a fungal infection and which type, and will then arrange for you to have a course of tablets containing Terbinafine which is in Lamisil and you would have to take these for several months.
Is this risky?
Well in most cases no but with any drug there are side effects and you have to personally weigh up if you want to take the risk and if any alternative might be more suitable. They can cause stomach pains, skin damage, and most worrying in rare cases liver damage. Liver function may be checked prior and during treatment as a precaution. You would have to also watch for any signs of liver trouble such as fatigue, vomiting, yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine and light coloured bowel motions.
I knew about this and decided to try an alternative route since I was worried about the potential side effects and as I already have M E didn't want to risk them.
The Alternative-Tea Tree
So I trawled the internet looking for alternatives and found Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Anti Fungal Treatment for Nails on a website called Simply Australian based in the USA www.simplyoz.com. I ordered two bottles and it arrived very quickly within a week. It was very reasonable and checking there today it is $14.50.
Tea tree oil is anti- fungal and I did a lot of research about it before I decided to go ahead. I found a paper which had documented the results of clinical trials of tea tree compared to traditional anti fungals in the treatment of fungal nail, and found that in 177 people who had the condition after 6 months of treatment the tea tree was as effective as the normal anti fungal normally used to treat the condition.
I painted the nail as suggested with the gel twice a day letting it dry before putting on socks which was easy. At first the nail went white and the skin around the nail looked an angry red for quite a while as well. This worried me a bit but it soon settled down. To be honest it looked worse as the days went on and I was getting in a bit of a panic but persevered. I did this for several weeks and as the treatment started to work I was able to remove the debris from the dead nail which was crumbling underneath with an orange stick. I started to notice that the new nail was growing through unaffected, and although the nail was severed in half half way up, and was hanging on by a thread, it meant I could keep painting it for as long as possible before the inevitable happened and it became detached. I was also trimming it every few days as well to keep it short.
All the time I was also applying Lamisil to the area between the toes to make sure that any athlete's foot was killed. Now you can buy Lamisil Once which should accomplish that in one application which is really important as you don't want to let any infection loiter around the area.
The nail grew back over several months but the top did sheer off eventually taking the infection with it. I continued to paint any damaged areas twice a day and watched as the new nail grew again. I have never had any recurrence and I can honestly say this was a sad tale with a happy ending.
Now I am not advocating self treatment in any way without advice from your GP- it is just that being a nurse myself I knew the options and wanted to go down the natural route first.
There is another treatment now available from the pharmacy called Curanail which you can also try if you have a mild infection and if no more than two nails are involved. I think severe cases and those of longstanding will need the attention of the doctor.
If you have diabetes, circulatory problems or any kind of immune system problem please don't try to treat this yourself see your GP. Diabetes in particular means regular check ups of the feet are necessary, and I would say never use these products without seeking advice first. THIS IS VITAL.