Fancy Your Feet Fungus-Free

Photo of toes

It’s been a season of sandals and footloose summer living but now that cooler weather is moving in, you’re probably starting to keep your toes under wraps. Soon you’ll be sporting boots, perhaps even socks and definitely closed toe shoes. But wait! Did you know real danger lurks inside your cold weather footwear? It’s a prime breeding ground for nail fungus due to its the moist, warm nature. Here’s some things you should know to prevent nail fungus from grabbing a toehold:

Medically speaking:
The medical term for nail fungus is onychomycosis and it can affect fingers and toes. Typically the condition begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of a nail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, it causes yellowish discoloration, thickening, and lifting of the nail from the underlying skin of the nail bed. As stated above, toenails are particularly vulnerable.

Small but persistent:
Fungi are microscopic organisms that can invade your skin through the tiniest of cuts or small separations between your nail and nail bed. Walking barefoot in damp, communal areas such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms increases your risk of contraction. Wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and don’t absorb perspiration worsens the situation.

Special considerations:
Age and gender can predispose you to developing the condition. Reduced blood flow and slower growing nails make older folk more susceptible. Being male, especially if you have a history of nail fungal infections ups the incidence too. So does having diabetes, circulation problems, a weakened immune system, or, in children, Down syndrome.

Simple precautions:
Toenail fungus is contagious so throw a pair of flip-flops in your gym bag if you plan on showering there. Use an antiseptic cleanser to scrub down bathtubs, showers and tiled floors at home too to kill fungi because if one family member’s got it, it’s likely to spread.

Over-the-counter cures:

Over-the-counter anti-fungal nail creams and ointments are often effective though patience is required. Trim and thin thickened nails first before applying an anti-fungal product so the drug can reach deeper layers for a faster cure. According to the Mayo Clinic, some people have cleared up nail fungus by applying Vicks VapoRub daily. Others have found success using alternative medicines like snakeroot extract and tea tree oil.

More serious action:

If nail fungus shows no improvement after two months of over-the-counter treatments, consult with a foot doctor immediately. Prescription-strength topicals and/or prescription oral anti-fungal medications might be in order. We’ll determine the best course of action so you can be footloose and fungus-free all year round!

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