Our feet: likely the most hard-working of our body parts, and often the most neglected. They spend years pounding the pavement, wrapped up in socks and shoes, and just simply don’t get the TLC they deserve. The same goes for our toenails, which, upon negligence, can grow to funny angles, become thick and coarse, or even worse – develop an infectious toenail fungus.
What is Toenail Fungus?
Nail fungus is a common condition that starts out as a spot under the tip of your toenail. This spot, usually yellow or white, can go deeper into the nail and cause discoloration, thickening of the nail or crumbling. It can also spread to other nails.
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is usually the result of a yeast or mold spore growing in a moist foot environment. There are certain circumstances where nail fungus infections can be more common, including:
- Advanced age, which causes a reduced blood flow to the feet and slower growing nails
- Excessively sweaty feet, causing a moist environment
- Working in a humid or moist environment, such as a lifeguard or in a construction site where your feet are constantly hot and sweaty
- Wearing socks and shoes that don’t breathe and have no ventilation
- Wearing sweaty socks to bed
- Living with someone who has nail fungus
- Frequenting areas, such as swimming pools and gyms, with bare feet
- Having a pre-existing condition called athlete’s foot
- Having a minor nail injury or a skin condition, such as psoriasis or eczema
- Having diabetes, circulation problems or a declining immune system
Toenail fungus can occur in other circumstances, but these are often the most common.
How Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus?
- Always ensure that you are washing your feet and toenails regularly, including using a nail brush to scrub all the dirt out from under the nails. Ensure that you keep your nails short and dry.
- Wear absorbent socks made of materials such as wool, nylon, and cotton. These fabrics repel moisture. Don’t forget to change your socks often, especially if you have excessively sweaty feet.
- Don’t always wear closed-toe or humidity-inducing shoes, such as rubber boots or steel-toed boots. It’s good to wear bare feet or open toed shoes to help air things out.
- Get rid of those old stinky shoes! Chances are, they are harboring fungi and may be the cause of the infection. If you’re really attached to the shoes, you can treat them with an antifungal spray or powder.
- Antifungal sprays or powders, such as the kind that treat athlete’s foot, are sometimes effective for toenail fungus. You can spray or sprinkle onto your feet as well as your shoes.
- Try to avoid being barefoot on pool decks and in public showers. Pack a pair of flip flops to be safe when you’re using these public places.
- Although it’s tempting to stop at that small nail salon for the cheap pedicure, you might be exposing yourself to an infection. Thanks to poor tool sterilization and unsanitary practices, you might end up getting a fungus or worse from some of these places. If you’re unsure, you can always bring your own tools and polish to the salon, and request they use them. Nevertheless, it’s always important to frequent a salon that you’re familiar with the reputation.
- If you already have a fungal infection, avoid the nail polish or artificial tips on your toes, as this can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the infection.
- Finally, always practice proper hygiene and make sure that you wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Nail fungus is contagious and can spread from nail to nail.
Toenail Fungus Treatment
If your toenail fungus is not going away and common home remedies are not working for you, there is an alternative option: Q-switch laser treatment. The Q-switch laser can eliminate the fungus by targeting the pigment of the fungi, which heats it and damages or kills the infection. Often only a few treatments will eliminate the fungal organism and restore the nail to its normal health. Contact us today to find out about the options available to you!