In some cases, the diagnosis will be clear to a doctor upon visual inspection, but there will be times when tests are necessary for confirmation. For a proper diagnosis of nail fungus, a nail clipping is sent to a laboratory for testing. A KOH test can usually be performed quickly.
While it is estimated that nearly 50% of abnormal appearances in the nail are due to a fungal nail infection, it’s important to rule out other conditions like psoriasis, lichen planus, eczema or simply trauma to the nail.
How to prepare to see your doctor
- List any symptoms, even ones that you feel are not likely related to your nail condition. This can affect your doctor’s treatment choices.
- List any medications that you are currently taking. Some nail fungus treatments may have interactions with other drugs. List any allergies or other personal information that may be relevant.
- Inform the doctor of any other health problems that you have. Conditions like cancer, diabetes and psoriasis can make you more vulnerable to infection or could make certain treatment options not good for you.
At your doctor’s
- Your doctor will examine the nail visually. He or she will be looking for physical signs of a onychomycosis, such as discoloration of the nail, brittleness of the nail, crumbling of the nail, debris under the nail and thickening of the nail.
- Your doctor will also evaluate the severity of your infection by looking at the number of nails affected, the percent of the nail affected and the parts of the nail affected.
- Your doctor may also take a sample from under the nail, or a nail clipping, to be sent to a lab for testing. The lab tests will confirm that the infection is caused by a fungus and can also identify the fungal species causing the infection, so that your physician can prescribe the right medication for you.
- Your doctor may also recommend that you visit a footcare specialist, such as a podiatrist, chiropodist or footcare nurse for nail care.
iWays to manage onychomycosis
Ask your doctor for ways to manage the condition, and for lifestyle changes that can help during treatment.