Toenail fungus is a common condition affecting up to 20 per cent of the western world’s adult population. Easily spread, a fungal nail infection can be painful and unsightly, so, what can you do to prevent falling victim to this unpleasant condition?
There are various preventative measures you can take to keep nail fungus at bay if you know what causes the infection and how it can be spread – read on to equip yourself with the facts about nail fungus and learn how best to avoid an infection.
Keep your feet clean and dry
The bacteria responsible for a fungal nail infection thrives in warm, moist conditions; to prevent contracting nail fungus, it’s important to keep your feet clean and dry. Dirt attracts bacteria and irregular washing can result in a buildup of microbes, which in turn can create an infection.
Dampness is also an important element for bacteria multiplication, so take care to dry your feet well – paying attention the areas in between the toes – after bathing. If your feet get wet in the rain, take off your shoes and socks when you arrive at home and dry your feet thoroughly. Cutting nails regularly to keep them short can also help prevent a buildup of bacteria.
Don’t got barefoot at the gym
Swimming pools and showers at the gym are renowned breeding grounds for bacteria. It’s impossible to keep the floors scrupulously clean with so much foot traffic and although you may be required to walk through a foot bath before entering the pool, it’s still possible to pick up germs and bacteria left behind by others.
Fungal nail infections are very contagious, so it’s important to protect your feet in communal areas like the showers at the gym or swimming pool – swim socks are ideal for adding a barrier between your feet and the floor, and for providing extra grip on slippery surfaces.
Look out for symptoms early on
Prevention is better than cure, according to the old adage, and the sooner you spot the signs of a fungal nail infection, the easier it is to deal with. Discoloration of the nail, thickness, discomfort and irregular-shaped growth are all tell-tale signs that toenail fungus has developed.
If you need confirmation that you have a fungal nail infection, it’s wise to visit your doctor, who can often tell you by sight, or may take a scraping and send it off to the lab for tests. You can begin a course of treatment, such as oral medication or a paint-on antifungal lacquer, as soon as possible to clear the infection and return your nails to full health.
Wear breathable socks and shoes
Fabrics and materials that make your feet hot and sweaty can contribute to the development of a fungal nail infection. Bacteria need warm, damp conditions to thrive, and the inside of an old pair of sneakers is the ideal place for fungus to grow.
If your gym shoes are getting old and smelly, replace them with a fresh pair of sneakers, made with breathable fabric to allow the air to circulate better and reduce bacteria buildup. Think about switching out your gym socks with poly-cotton mix alternatives, which are better able to soak up sweat yet allow the air to circulate.
Give your feet a regular check over
Giving your feet a once over from time to time can help you get wise to any problems quickly; if you have patches of itchy white skin between your toes, this could signify the onset of athlete’s foot, which in turn can spread to your toenails and result in a fungal nail infection.
Similarly, a patch of dry, cracked skin elsewhere on your foot could signify a deeper problem that requires attention, while damage to a nail, such as a knock or blow, can also contribute to the onset of a fungal infection.
Don’t share towels or other items
Whether it’s at the gym or at home with the family, if you know that a friend or relative has a fungal nail infection, take care not to share towels, sponges or other items with them, as this can spread the bacteria from person to person.
It’s also important not to share other personal items, like nail files, clippers or other manicure and pedicure items, and to sterilize nail care utensils before using them in future after an infection.
Being aware of how toenail fungus starts and spreads makes it easier to prevent the onset of the condition altogether, as well as ensuring you can identify a problem early on for the best chance at a swift recovery. To treat toenail fungus naturally at home, Perfect Nails from Unico has been designed to harness the power of nature with antimicrobial ingredients like tea tree oil, lavender and oregano – click here for more information.