What treatment really works for unsightly fungal toenails? Dr Zoe Williams answers your health questions
PEOPLE are adaptable, which means we often learn to live with things because the thought of fixing them or making an appointment with a GP seems like a lot of wasted effort.
But if something’s on your mind, it’s worth getting it checked out.
It may be nothing, but whether it’s an unsightly toenail a reader is grappling with this week, a cough that won’t clear up, or a dodgy mole that needs to be looked at, it’s better to nip worries in the bud .
So if it’s not urgent, visit your pharmacist or use the online consultation with your GP to save time and avoid the 8am rush for an in-person appointment.
Here’s what readers asked me this week. . .
Q: MY 90 year old mother has swollen feet and ankles.
She has rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
I asked her specialist about it at her last appointment a while back and he said it was age related edema.
Do you think a circulation booster like Revitive or something similar would help?
I can afford to buy one for Mum but I don’t want to bother her with something ineffective.
The swelling is worse in very hot and very cold weather.
It does go down when mum is more active, but these days all she really does is walk back and forth between the bedroom, bathroom and living room of our bungalow, using a tea trolley to keep her balance.
I’ll take her out in a wheelchair.
She likes to walk around the garden with her walker, but that’s not possible at this time of the year.
A: First of all, thank you for your question.
I’m often asked about gadgets and supplements that aren’t available on the NHS and there’s a wide range out there so it’s worth asking a doctor – or in this case me.
There are a few studies stating that this product – which uses electrical muscle stimulation technology to increase blood flow – works, and in general customer reviews are good.
It claims to be able to help with conditions such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, edema, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
However, it’s not for everyone. It must be used with bare feet. So if your mother is often cold, keep that in mind.
It is also not suitable for people with a cardiac pacemaker or an automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, for pregnant women and people with signs or symptoms of DVT.
I see on the product’s website that there is a 90-day money-back trial, but please be sure to read the fine print.
I’m not sure where in the country you are either, but some private podiatry clinics have options to rent where you can try before you buy.
At around £300 it’s a lot of money to spend so this could be an alternative option.
I don’t know your mother’s full medical history so it might be worth filling out an online consultation and asking her GP question before trying it too.
Q: I HAVE several unsightly fungal toenails that look horrible when wearing sandals in the summer.
I’ve tried numerous different over-the-counter treatments with no effect.
Many years ago, my family doctor at the time even prescribed antibiotics for me, but he refused them after three months, so the treatment was never completed.
Can you recommend something that actually works?
While you’re saying you’ve seen your GP about it, you’re saying it’s been a long time. So if you haven’t visited him again, please make an appointment.
You can take photos and send them in with an online e-consultation to speed things up.
Your GP may ask you to send clippings to the lab to confirm the diagnosis – these should be taken from the crumbling free edge of the affected nail.
Fungal nail infections sometimes require oral antifungal medications, and can take months to recover. So, while waiting for an appointment with your GP, go to your local pharmacy and ask for a consultation in a private room.
You can show it to your pharmacist and he can advise you on a suitable nail polish or medication to use in the meantime.
If it seems to be working you can stick with it, but being persistent is key as it can take 12 months to completely clear up a fungal nail infection.
Some studies have found tea tree oil to be helpful, but mention this to your pharmacist or GP before you start, as it may not work in tandem with what you use over-the-counter or by prescription.
If it doesn’t help and the lab confirms a fungus, your GP may prescribe oral antifungals.
However, you may need to do a blood test first and if you are already taking other medicines this may not be easy or even possible as there are many drug interactions with antifungal drugs.
However, it’s a good idea to target this now while we’re all still in our socks and boots.
Hope you can wear sandals with pride this summer.
Fears about heartbeat
Q: Does an ectopic heartbeat that becomes more obvious MUST be checked? I suffer from fear
A: An ectopic heartbeat is when the ventricular chambers of the heart beat prematurely and it can feel like your heart is having periods of irregular or skipped beats.
From personal experience, it’s a very strange feeling that can make you uncomfortable or anxious.
The feeling can last seconds, minutes or even longer.
If you’ve already been diagnosed, you know that they’re not usually a sign of anything sinister and are actually considered pretty normal.
However, they can be a cause for concern in people with heart disease.
They’re mostly related to lack of sleep, stress, or anxiety — which you say you have too.
If they increase in frequency or the episodes last more than a few minutes, your GP will want to know.
It’s also worth keeping a journal to see when they occur.
If something triggers your fear and it happens at that point, you will see a pattern that it might be related to fear.
But if they do occur when you’re relaxed, you can show your GP exactly what you’re experiencing and how often, which will help them make recommendations for either an EKG or talk therapy for your anxiety.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/7324248/fungal-toenails-dr-zoe-health-questions/ What treatment really works for unsightly fungal toenails? Dr Zoe Williams answers your health questions