Ask The Doc: What Does Gray In Your Toenail Signify?

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Q: For as long as I can remember, the nails on both my big toes have had a gray discoloration.
I can scrape it off with a file, and then it looks white and healthy again. It’s not dirt because it doesn’t wash off, and none of the other toes have this. Do you know what’s going on?

A: This orthopedic podiatrist says…

The toenail discoloration may be topical onychomycosis – better known as toenail fungus. There are different type of fungal infections, and there are several ways it can be contracted or spread.
The risk of getting the infection can be higher if you have diabetes, wear artificial nails or go barefoot in public swimming pools or showers at the gym.

Some nail fungus can infect the top of the toenail, while other types infect under the toenail plate.
There are several ways to treat toenail fungus, such as with creams or oral medications – however some of these can come with side effects.

Did you also know that laser treatment is a way to treat toenail fungus? One of the benefits of the laser is that it cooks and kills damaging fungi while leaving healthy tissue alone. There’s also no downtime or side harmful side effects.

At our locations in the West Loop, Roscoe Village, Ukrainian Village, Bartlett and Elmhurst, we use the Q-Clear laser. It’s the only FDA approved laser with an efficacy rate of up to 95 percent. While more than one session with a laser may be needed to rid your toes of fungus, the good news is that Flexible Spending Accounts can be used to cover treatment.

More information about laser treatment can be found at our Podiatry Education page.

I hope this helps and good luck!

Ankle N Foot Center docs & staff

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