Toenail Fungus: Prevention and Treatment

If you fancy open-toed footwear or enjoy basking barefoot, then you need to pay attention to the health of those toenails. A fungal infection – also known as onychomycosis – doesn’t disappear on its own, and if contracted and left untreated, the fungus will spread and eventually lead to the destruction of the nail. Toenail fungus is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. When the tiny organisms take hold, the nail becomes darker in color and smells foul. It is also one of the most difficult conditions to cure due to the fact that before it can be treated, you have to determine what caused it with the help of your doctor.

Symptoms

You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are:

  • Thickened
  • Brittle, crumbly, or ragged
  • Distorted in shape
  • Dull, with no shine
  • A dark color

Fight off Fungus

Your risk of developing toenail fungus (onychomycosis) can be minimized by following these tips:

  • Keep nails clean and cut short
  • Dry feet and the spaces in between your toes thoroughly after washing them
  • Avoid sharing nail clippers or footwear
  • Wear properly fitting shoes that allow your feet to breathe
  • Spray your shoes with an antifungal medicine
  • Thoroughly clean nail clippers and other pedicure tools between uses (when visiting a nail salon, ask questions to assure the vicinity is clean)
  • Don’t apply nail polish to nails suspected of infection

Home Care Tips

If you have a mild fungal nail infection or are concerned about the risks of taking antifungal pills, try an antifungal medicine that you can apply directly to the skin. Some people find that tea tree oil or cream works well for this condition and can also treat athlete’s foot as well. Additionally, you should go barefoot as much as possible and if your feet get cold, be sure to wear dry, clean, socks. Moist socks and shoes breed fungal growth. Do not wear your sock or hosiery more than one day without washing.

When to Visit a Podiatrist

The area below and around the nail can get red and inflamed due to infection or due to an intense natural reaction to the fungus. Additionally, an odor may also arise in the case of infection. If self-care steps haven’t eliminated the fungus, it’s time to schedule a visit with your podiatrist. Not all cases of toenail fungus require treatment with medication, but a prescribed anti-fungal cream may be appropriate based on the type of fungus that is causing the infection.

If you observe any abnormal changes in your toenail, it is important to visit your doctor for a prompt foot assessment. If left untreated, a toenail fungus can lead to serious complications, including the possible loss of your nail, or a bacterial infection.

This newsletter/website is not intended to replace the services of a doctor. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information in this newsletter/website is for informational purposes only & is not a substitute for professional advice. Please do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating any condition.