No one ever sets out to contract a case of fungal toenails, and it can be a source of self-consciousness and embarrassment when you look down and see unsightly, discolored nails. If you understand how this condition happens, then you can take steps to prevent it in the first place. It is also valuable to know what treatment options are available and when it is time to make an appointment with our office to restore your nails to their natural state.
What are Fungal Toenails?
This is a condition where you have sustained an infection in the bed of your toenail(s) from microscopic fungal organisms. It is also referred to as onychomycosis and starts with tiny openings in the skin on your toe that allow the fungi to enter and then reside in the nailbed. The microorganisms can find their way inside via the slightest gap between a nail and skin.
No matter how the fungus is initially contracted, it will cause thickened, crumbly, and discolored nails. Without treatment, toenail fungus can ultimately lead to permanent nail damage, a painful condition, and a serious complications for diabetic individuals.
You can put yourself at higher risk of contracting a fungal infection when you visit damp, warm environments, like those found in locker rooms, gym showers, and public, indoor pools. You also have a greater risk when you live with diabetes, immune disorders, or other circulatory problems. Anyone can develop a fungal infection, but those who are compromised by such a condition need to be particularly careful in this regard.
Preventing Fungal Toenails
It is always better to prevent a condition from occurring than to have to deal with it, and this is certainly the case with fungal infections. Extra precautions can make a profound difference and, fortunately, they are not complicated steps.
- Foot hygiene. Wash your feet daily, especially the areas between your toes, with a mild, antibacterial soap and warm water. After they are clean, dry them thoroughly.
- Smart moisturizing. If you use moisturizer on your feet, apply to the tops, bottoms, and heel areas, but do not use between your toes. Doing so would provide an environment that promotes fungal growth.
- Proper nail trimming. Ingrown nails have their own issues, but they also can open the doorway for infection when the nail punctures the skin. Help decrease your risk by trimming your nails straight across, instead of clipping them in a rounded fashion. Ensure that they reach just the ends of your toes and are not too short.
- Keep your socks dry. If you are physically active, bring along an extra set of socks to your practice or on game day and change into them afterwards. Some individuals have a condition known as hyperhidrosis, which entails excessive sweating. If you have this condition, always have extra pairs on hand to change into on an as-needed basis.
- Keep your shoes dry. Give your shoes time to dry in between uses. A good idea is to have two pairs of shoes and rotate them on a daily basis so each pair can dry fully.
- Protect your feet. When you visit a gym or public pool, be sure to wear shower shoes or sandals when you are on deck, in the locker room, and especially in communal shower areas.
Professional Treatment for Toenail Fungus
Prevention methods can reduce the risk, but at some point you may need professional treatment for fungal nails. Home care for this condition is difficult and unlikely to provide the results you seek. Over-the-counter medications are often ineffective and will basically waste your time and money. Instead, enlist the help of the experts at Richardson Podiatry Associates and receive the effective care you need.
We are always here for you, no matter what foot or ankle problem you or your loved ones are facing. Call our Richardson, TX office at (972) 690-5374 or use our online form and request your appointment today.