How to Prevent Fungal Nail Infections?
Fungal nail infections can cause thickened, discolored, split, and lifted nails. These infections are more common on toenails than fingernails and tend to run in families due to an inherited tendency. However, not everyone is susceptible to fungal nail infections. Dermatologists recommend the following precautions to prevent these infections:
- Keep your toenails trimmed short. This helps prevent debris from accumulating under the nails and reduces the risk of nail injuries. Cut the nails straight across to keep them strong and prevent ingrown toenails.
- Wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes should not touch your toenails and you should alternate the shoes you wear every day to allow them to air out before wearing them again.
- Choose breathable footwear. Fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, such as hot and sweaty shoes. Wear sandals whenever possible and if you must wear socks, choose ones that wick moisture away from your skin.
- Use antifungal sprays or powders. Spray or sprinkle these products inside your shoes and on your socks before putting your shoes on to control sweat that can cause fungal infections. This is especially important in hot weather or before exercising.
- Avoid going barefoot in public facilities. Fungus that causes athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other skin conditions may be present on the floor of public pools, locker rooms, and other facilities. Even when showering in a public place, it is important to wear shower shoes or flip flops.
- Do not wear someone else’s shoes or share nail clippers and files. If you go to a nail salon for a pedicure, make sure the staff are sanitizing tools and thoroughly disinfecting footbaths before each use. Alternatively, use your own footbath.
- Seek treatment early. Nail fungus is easier to prevent than to treat. If caught early, nail fungus may clear with over-the-counter antifungal cream, lotion, gel, or lacquer. However, most fungal nail infections require prescription antifungal medications or laser treatments. If you notice a problem with your nails, see a board-certified dermatologist. Nail fungus can take up to a year to clear, so it is important to start treatment as soon as it is diagnosed.
What are the symptoms of a fungal nail infection?
Symptoms of a fungal nail infection include thickened, discolored, split, and lifted nails. The nail may also have debris or a foul odor.
How do you get a fungal nail infection?
Fungal nail infections are caused by fungi that enter the nail through cuts or breaks in the skin around the nail. They can also be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as shoes, nail clippers, or nail files.
Can fungal nail infections be cured?
Fungal nail infections can be cured, but it may take several months of treatment with antifungal medications or laser treatments to clear the infection. It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan and take all prescribed medications as directed to ensure the best chances of success.
How can you prevent fungal nail infections?
To prevent fungal nail infections, keep your toenails trimmed short, wear shoes that fit properly and are made of breathable material, use antifungal sprays or powders, avoid going barefoot in public facilities, and do not wear someone else's shoes or share nail clippers and files. In addition, if you go to a nail salon, make sure the salon is clean and that the staff are properly sanitizing tools and disinfecting footbaths before each use.
What should you do if you suspect you have a fungal nail infection?
If you suspect you have a fungal nail infection, it is important to see a board-certified dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Do not try to self-treat the infection with over-the-counter products as these may not be effective and could potentially worsen the infection.