Fungal and bacterial skin infections often thrive in Singapore due to the warm and humid environment. Such infections may present in multiple forms, including but not limited to – dry, itchy, burning skin with inflammation and blisters, changes in the appearance of your skin or no visible symptoms. Fungal infections are transmissible between individuals. They can also spread to your nails, other parts of your body or make you more susceptible to other infections. If your immune system is weakened, i.e. due to receiving cancer treatments, or having an autoimmune disease, or if you have diabetes, please seek prompt treatment for fungal infections. Left untreated, there is a high risk of the fungus spreading to other parts of your body, making you very ill.
Due to our weather and environment, it is difficult to avoid contact with microscopic organisms such as fungi, especially when we walk barefoot, or suffer from contributing factors such as excessive perspiration.
There are many different types of fungal skin infections and conditions that mimic fungal infections such as dermatitis, allergic reactions, or irritation. You should see a podiatrist for assessment, treatment, and advice if the problem is not resolved. If the podiatrist determines the problem is not caused by fungus or cannot be managed with conservative treatments, they may recommend you see a dermatologist for further investigation.
How can I identify fungal nail infections?
Fungus takes hold under the nail surface causing discolouration and sometimes a foul odour. Thickening of the nails with underlying debris and white markings on the nail occur and can spread easily to other nails and even the skin. Nail infections are often missed or ignored as they take many years to present without causing any pain or impact on a persons’ health. The nails can become hard, brittle and sometimes crumble, causing embarrassment or discomfort for patients. Left untreated, it can lead to further yeast and bacterial infections of the nails.
If the fungus is ignored, the thickened nails become difficult to trim and maintain. Walking may become painful and you may have to avoid footwear that is tight around the toes. Underlying biomechanical conditions such as hallux limitus may also impact the healing rates of fungal infections or worsen the condition. Patients with chronic diseases, circulatory problems or immune-deficiency conditions are more prone to fungal nails.
What can the podiatrist do for me?
Fungal nail is often evident on visual assessment. If there is any doubt, a podiatrist can also take a clipping of your nail for testing to confirm a fungal infection and identify the type of fungus. Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat conditions of the lower limb, and this includes offering fungal nail treatments.
After assessing your nails and surrounding skin, the podiatrist will advise you on the best course of action, including referrals to the relevant specialists if the issue is not fungal in nature. Treatments can include over-the-counter medication, topical creams or other conservative treatments such as PACT therapy.
What is PACT Therapy?
Also known Photodynamic Antimicrobial Therapy or Photodynamic Anti-mycotic (fungal) therapy, this type of nail fungus treatment is both painless and effective. Coupled with podiatric debridement, filing and other treatment techniques, podiatrists are able to effectively eradicate fungal nail infections and restore your nails to a healthy condition.
Unlike human cells, the cells in a fungus possess a cell wall. With PACT Therapy, the cell wall is stained with a special dye that makes them sensitive to specific wavelengths of light. This dye is harmless to human cells and allows the focused light to destroy bacteria and nail fungus while keeping your skin and nails unharmed.