Worried you might have a fungal toenail infection, but don’t know much about them? Read our list of 5 things many people don’t know about these pesky infections and how to treat them.
1. Fungal Infections are More Common than You Might Think
Many people will experience a fungal nail infection at some point in their lives. The main reason they are so often associated with athletes is because warm, sweaty conditions create the perfect conditions for fungi. But forgetting to put on a pair of socks, wearing nylon tights for too long, or walking around in a pair of ill-fitting shoes will also create the same conditions that fungi thrive in.
Similarly, damp environments such as public swimming pools, foot baths or communal showers make it easy for a fungal nail infection to transfer from one person’s foot to another. It’s best to use shower shoes when possible, and slippers or clean socks in hotel rooms.
It’s important to ensure that your feet are dried properly after showering, but if you’re not washing your towels regularly enough, then this can also introduce an unwanted fungal infection.
2. Don’t Just Worry About Your Own Hygiene
Before you book yourself in for your next pedicure, take a minute to read-up on the nail salon. If your pedicurist is forgetting to properly sanitise their tools between customers, then this may expose you to a fungal infection. An infection can set in through tiny cuts or cracks around your nailbeds, so be sure to check that the right health and safety precautions are being met before you let anyone near your feet.
If you’re already suffering from a fungal infection, then opt for an antifungal nail paint. Regular nail polish is a sealant, and can create a dark, moisture trapping layer of colour. Gels nails can also put strain on your toenails, and make them more prone to small cuts or cracks that harbour infection.
3. A Bad Habit May be Increasing Your Chances of Infection
Although clean socks and good hygiene may seem simple enough, other factors contribute to your chances of catching a fungal nail infection.
It may seem unrelated, but smoking causes many unwanted side-effects throughout your body. A long-term smoker will have constricted blood vessels, and since your body’s circulatory system is responsible for bringing oxygen and nutrients to your cells, long-term smokers leave themselves more susceptible to fungal nail infections.
Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, also cause poor circulation - if you have a medical condition or compromised immune system, and think you have contracted a fungal infection, it’s important that you speak with your GP as soon as possible.
4. It’s Shouldn’t be Ignored
At first, many people find it easy to ignore a fungal nail infection, since it may not cause any symptoms beyond discoloration and slight cosmetic changes. The trouble is, once the infection is given the opportunity to take hold, it can cause further problems and become more difficult to get rid of. Typically, a fungal infection will not simply go away on its own.
If you have an infected toenail, there is a chance it will eventually spread to your other toes; you might start to experience discomfort, and walking and exercise could become painful. In some cases, the toenail will suffer permanent damage. It may even fall off and won’t regrow until the infection is treated.
The fungus could also spread to the skin around the infected area, and lead to athlete’s foot. If you have a weakened immune system, you are at risk of the fungus spreading further, and should seek medical attention.
In some (very rare) cases, the toenail may be removed surgically.
The good news is…
5. There are Various Treatments Available
If you have a fungal infection, then chances are you want to get rid of it. Even if it isn’t causing any drastic symptoms, the unsightliness and discomfort of an infected toenail can still be difficult to live with, and over time it can spread to other toes and become harder to treat.
Luckily, you have options when it comes to an effective fungal nail infection treatment. Fungal nail tablets are available and can be very effective, many people prefer to use an antifungal nail paint, which is slower working but has far fewer side-effects and works by gradually working its way to the nail bed and killing off the infection.
It’s important to remember that fungal infections are very stubborn, and patients should remain consistent with treating the nail over time. As with any treatment, giving up early will often cause the infection to return.
If you’re struggling against a fungal infection, Anytime Doctor is ready to put you on the path to good foot health.