Toenail fungus (also know as onychomycosis) is an infection that afflicts toenails causing them to appear cracked, discolored, thick and brittle, while it can sometimes even affect their shape and texture. If ignored or not treated properly, the situation may become fairly cumbersome, leading to pain, discomfort or even result in pieces breaking and falling off. Although almost anyone can end up contracting this infection, specific groups of people are more likely to develop it, since a wide range of factors can trigger its appearance and intensify its progress. Let’s have a look at them as well as a couple of tips that can help you stop this infection.
1. Other Health Conditions
The chances of someone contracting toenail fungus depend greatly on pre-existing ailments. Therefore, individuals suffering from diabetes, HIV or poor circulation and other health conditions are more likely to develop onychomycosis, since an ineffectual immune system and reduced blood flow to the toes significantly favor the growth of the fungus. Previous nail injuries or nail surgeries can also play a role. Needless to say, age too –despite not being a health condition in itself– stimulates the development of the fungus due to prolonged exposure to fungi as well as the reduced blood flow it is associated with.
Swimming is an excellent way of jeeping in shape, but what about its repercussions on your toenails health? Well, as we established, fungi thrive in wet and humid areas, so swimming pools unfortunately pose a substantial hazard. Although a chlorinated pool is in itself a relatively safe place, that can not be said about locker rooms and showers. Therefore, it is vital that you not walk barefoot there, as infections can spread easily from person to person. Hygienic discipline is the key word in these places; wearing special shower shoes or flip flops as well as showering and drying your nails carefully before putting on your shoes is of major importance.
As mentioned earlier, moisture aids fungal infections. It’s no wonder then that runners are habitually afflicted with toenail fungus. Sweaty feet in tight sneakers for prolonged periods of time is a sure recipe for picking up the infection. If you enjoy jogging, make sure you utilize footwear and socks that prevent excessive humidity from evolving while trying to ensure your sneakers are thoroughly dried before you put them on.
4. Wearing socks and pantyhose
This point is related to the previous one. Even if you’re not a professional or an amateur athlete, chances are you do wear socks or pantyhose during your day. And since the latter is usually made form nylon which is excellent in trapping moisture, the danger of a fungal infection is extremely high. Therefore, avoid wearing them pantyhose, or, if that is not on the cards, use some antiperspirant or powder to keep your feet as much dry as possible during the day. As for socks, opt for those made of synthetic fiber (instead of cotton or wool), as they’re able to diffuse moisture much more effectively.
5. Wearing Heavy Boots
Laborers of all kinds are a group in greater danger of picking up a toenail fungal infection due to the special workwear they are ordinarily required to use. Although no one can argue against the level of safety they provide, work apparel and footwear usually fail to provide ample ventilation, nurturing toenail fungus in the moist environment they create. The pressure applied to toenails due to heavy boots is another contributing factor. So, if you are a construction worker or a farmer, make sure you avoid wearing the same pair of work boots every day; an extra pair, left to dry between work days, is just what you need to diminish the chances of getting the infection.
6. Wearing Tight Shoes
Even if you don’t wear professional footwear, casual shoes also play a big role in aiding the condition in coming about. Closed and tight shoes prevent your feet from breathing properly, while they sometimes squeeze them so hard that can undermine their integrity, rendering them more prone to the infection. So, shop for shoes made of materials that enable your feet to breathe – or even wear flip-flops as much as possible!
7. Polishing Nails
Undoubtedly, nail polish look great on your feet; however, it can turn out to be detrimental in the long run. This is because it is likely to impede light from reaching your nail, thus promoting fungal expansion. Suffice it to say, applying polish onto possibly infected nails can spread the infection to the healthy ones. Furthermore, getting them polished in beauty salons also puts them at risk. Finally, if you’re already dealing with fungus nail issues, do not opt for covering the problem with nail polish; seek medical advice instead!
8. Sharing Clippers
Keeping your toenails well-trimmed will definitely help prevent infections. And clipping them straight across to keep them from extending beyond the toe tip is a fine piece of advice. But you’d better not do that unless you’re using your own clippers as the fungus can be transferred that way! It is also advisable that you disinfect your clippers on a frequent basis for further protection.
All in all, if you happen to belong to one of the aforementioned categories, it is important that you take good care of your feet to stop the ailment from occurring. Moreover, if you notice any symptoms, consult a physician in order to confirm you have a fungal infection so as to proceed to the appropriate cure.