Toenail fungus is something that most people aren’t comfortable talking about. And, unfortunately, keeping toes healthy may not necessarily be on the top of your to-do list. But maybe it should be!
Usually we don’t realize how important healthy feet are until they start showing symptoms to indicate something is wrong. But in reality, our feet should be top priority when it comes to taking care of our well-being. After all, they are the very foundation our bodies are built upon!
The first thing you should know about this condition is that you aren’t alone. Toenail fungus is a relatively common problem afflicting about 14 percent of human population.
Often it is caused by microscopic organism which feed on keratin – the protein found in abundance in our nails and hair. It usually starts as a white or yellowish spot underneath the tip of the nail and, if left untreated, the nail can begin to show discoloration, thicken, and crumble. It’s also contagious, so other toenails may begin showing signs of infection as well.
Normally, you can take care of the situation using home remedies if the condition is not causing any discomfort or doesn’t seem to get worse. However, if the nail starts to thicken and/or becomes painful, or makes you feel self-conscious or embarrassed, then it’s time to come visit our office.
But How Do You Know If You Have Toenail Fungus?
Here are some of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for:
- Changes in nail color. Does the nail have any white spots, or brown or yellow streaks? Is there any debris building underneath the nail causing it to turn a dark color?
- Changes in the texture/shape of the nail. Does the nail seem to have become thicker? Is the nail crumbling or brittle? Has the shape changed?
- Take a sniff. Does the toenail emit a slightly foul odor?
- Pain around the area. Are you experiencing any pain or swelling of the toe? Is the area dry and/or itchy?
Of course, you should also consider if you are one of the many people who are actually prone to developing toenail fungus.
What Are the Risk Factors?
Toenail fungus doesn’t discriminate – this condition afflicts individuals across all demographics. However, some of us are naturally at a greater risk.
In fact, our age, our gender, our genetic structure and our everyday habits can play a huge role in the development of a fungal toenail. From your favorite nail polish to the sports you choose to play, there are many factors which make you more susceptible to this embarrassing condition.
The most important thing to understand is that fungi thrives in dark, warm, moist environments. Beyond this, here are some of the most common of risk factors:
- Being an older adult. As we get older, blood flow begins to decline, nails begin to crack and grow slower which leaves room for fungi to grow.
- Sweating excessively. If you are someone who sweats more than the average person, that means your nails are most likely always surrounded by moisture – and moisture is fungi’s best friend. The problem is worse if you aren’t changing socks and rotating shoes regularly.
- Walking barefoot in wet surfaces. Areas like swimming pools, gyms, and shower rooms – which are normally damp – are a playground for fungi.
- Having diabetes. As diabetes often comes along with circulatory issues and a weakened immune system, the chances of developing toenail fungus are naturally increased.
If one or more of these instances apply to you, there is no need to panic. Prevention is key, and we are here to give you some pointers on how to nip the problem in the bud before it even starts!
What Can You Do to Prevent Toenail Fungus?
The best ways to avoid toenail fungus are to:
- Wear flip-flops or shower shoes when you are walking in areas that are moist or damp, like locker rooms and public pools.
- Trim your nails the right way – keep them short (but not too short) and make sure to cut the nail straight across rather than in an arch shape.
- Always trim your nails with clean tools and never share these with other people.
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks or change your socks throughout the day if they become damp or wet.
- Treat your shoes routinely with disinfectants or antifungal powders.
- Throw away infected shoes, especially if you just completed a toenail fungus treatment.
- Wash your hands and feet regularly, as well as moisturize after every wash – avoiding those areas between the toes.
- Choose a nail salon that always uses sterilized manicure tools for each customer.
Now, though following these preventative measures will substantially reduce your chances of infection, toenail fungus is contagious and may come back in the future. The best thing to do is to consistently check your toenails and the skin around it for early signs of infection while washing your feet daily, and if you ever find any concerning signs, come visit our office for the relief you need today.
We Can Help You Say Goodbye to Fungal Nails at Family Foot & Ankle Center
If your toenail problem persists or gets worse don’t hesitate to contact our office at (909) 920-0884 or request an appointment online. We provide many treatments options that can get your feet back in shape in no time!