Toenail fungus may not be a very pressing health concern, but it can ruin the appearance of your toenails and cause pain if the nailbed becomes raised. Once contracted, these pesky infections can be difficult to kill. Prevention is the key to avoiding toenail fungal infections.
How do they develop?
Toenail fungal infections are most often caused by microscopic organisms called dermatophytes, which thrive in warm, damp environments. These organisms feed on keratin, the protein found in nails and hair. In many situations, the fungal microorganism responsible for the infection is the same one that causes the fungal skin infection of athlete’s foot.
Fungi that are already present in or on your body can cause nail infections too. Ill-fitting footwear can, in part, be responsible for toenail fungal infections. The toenails can become traumatized from the pressure put upon them, become weakened, and more susceptible to infection from the fungi already present in your body.
Healthy habits you can practice to prevent toenail fungal infections
Keeping feet healthy is dependent on good hygiene. It is important to keep your feet and toes clean and dry. Follow these steps to stay ahead of toenail fungal infections:
Clip your toenails regularly with properly sanitized nail scissors or clippers. Use a nail file to gently file any sharp edges.
Wear properly fitted shoes that are not touching your toes. Purchasing shows with a wide toe box will prevent toes from cramping and becoming stressed or traumatized.
Choose footwear that is breathable so air can circulate around your feet. Shoes made of a breathable material like leather or canvas, can help keep feet dry.
Alternate your shoes to allow them to air out between wearings. Putting on shoes that are still damp from yesterday’s workout will likely increase your risk of a toenail fungal infection.
Avoid going barefoot in public areas. Gym locker rooms, public pools, and showers, can be loaded with fungi just waiting to get at your toes. Avoid a possible infection by wearing flip-flops, sandals, or shower shoes in moist environments.
Sprinkle your shoes with an antifungal powder inside your socks and shoes before each wearing to prevent the growth of fungi spores. This is especially important during warmer weather when your feet tend to sweat more.
What happens if you already have a toenail fungal infection?
Fungal nail infections often remain untreated and can become a chronic condition. Treatment is possible, especially with the expert help of a podiatrist.
A podiatrist can help by performing an examination, providing you with advice on what conditions could have led to the infection, and by prescribing a topical solution that can get rid of your fungus.
Essentially, a podiatrist can assist you in ensuring your toenail fungus does not come back. Toenail fungal infections are notoriously resilient and are highly likely to recur without proper care and treatment. At Affiliated Foot & Ankle Specialists of Clifton we can help prevent that by providing you with a thorough examination, the proper treatment plan, and recommendations for the best way forward to break that stubborn foot infection cycle.
If you need assistance with any foot problems contact us to schedule an appointment! Call us at (973) 365-2208 or fill out our appointment form, and our staff will get back to you right away!