Preventing Toenail Fungus
What is toenail fungus?
Although not the prettiest topic, toenail fungus is a very common problem that can be treated if the proper steps are taken. However, if not treated, bad toenail fungus can leave you in serious pain, and possibly hinder your ability to walk. So what is toenail fungus?
Onychomycosis, toenail fungus is an infection that occurs underneath the surface of the nail. When the tiny organisms of fungi latch onto the nail, the nail often becomes discolored, thick, lifted or loose and emits a foul smell. If you notice that your nails fit the previous description, are always dirty underneath, are yellow or are discolored, keep on reading!
How does this happen?: Causes
Fungi are microscopic organisms--meaning it's pretty hard to avoid contact with them. Because of this, our feet are always subjected to fungus, but toenails are most vulnerable in damp areas such as:
foot baths at salons
Walking barefoot in these locations or having a nail injury further increases your chances of getting toenail fungus. If you have a chronic illness or immune-deficiency conditions, you are even more susceptible to fungal nails.
Early fungal infection usually goes untreated because an infection could be present in your toenails for years without causing any pain. Often, it is the deteriorating nail quality over the years that suggest toenail fungus. Clients are often embarrassed by the appearance of fungal nails, but shouldn't be wary of treatment--it is a very common infection.
Routinely cleansing your feet at home could reduce already-present infections, but at-home treatment can actually irritate toenail fungus even more. Even the best over-the-counter medicine may not prevent the return of the infection. Therefore, we suggest making an appointment here, at the Crozet Foot and Ankle Clinic, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above. Doctor Allen will assess your toenails and provide you will an efficient, safe course of treatment!
So, you don't have any warning signs of fungal nails...but you also want to take preventative steps. Routine inspection of your feet and regular, proper cleansing is the best way to avoid infection! Follow these bullet points to ward off infection:
wash feet thoroughly with soap and water; dry thoroughly
change socks daily
wear shoes that fit properly!
if showering or walking in locker rooms, wear shower or pool shoes
disinfect all tools, clippers, etc. coming in contact with your nail or toes
clip toenails straight across so that the nail is not extending over the edge of the toe
look into moisture control socks
don't apply polish to infected nails
If you get pedicures make sure the soaking tub and instruments are properly sterilized