Thick, painful, yellow, almost-brittle nails are the telltale signs of a fungal nail infection. While also observed in fingernails, toenails are a frequent target of fungal infections (onychomycosis), with common culprits being poor hygiene, a compromised immune system, humid environments, and athlete’s foot. Commonly perceived as a mere cosmetic issue, untreated nail fungus is contagious and a root cause of most deforming nail disorders, not to mention nail loss. Since its painstaking to treat, here are few tips to banish nail fungus before it starts:
Fungi thrive in dark, moist places like nail beds and sweaty shoes, so keep your nails short using properly sanitized clippers or nail scissors to decrease moisture and dirt buildup under your nails and minimize the surface area for fungal growth. Also, file and smooth down sharp and/or thick nail edges to prevent infection through damage and help with antifungal cream penetration in case of an infection.
Tight toe boxes not only jam the toes and cause nail abrasion by forcing them to rub against each other in the confined space, but wearing closed shoes for too long can also help cultivate infection-causing fungus. Also, opt for shoes without an inseam in the toe area and made of breathable materials like leather and canvas to allow in-shoe circulation. Finally, don’t wear the same pair 2-3 days at a time, and place them in open places to dry and thoroughly air out.
3-Avoid Public Displays:
The perpetually wet floors of public places likes pools and shower rooms are infected with fungi waiting to feast on your feet, so instead of going barefoot, choose to wear flip-flops, sandals, or shower shoes.
Hot and humid weather invites sweaty feet and fungi. So, create a hostile antifungal shoe environment, by regularly spraying antibacterial spray and sprinkling antifungal powder. Wash your socks in bleach-infused hot water, and your hands and feet in plain warm water. Those susceptible to fungal infections like athletes should regularly apply antifungal powder and/or ointments on dry hands and feet after showering.
5-Beauty with Brains:
Unless your manicurist uses a new set of tools for every customer, opt to bring your own tools. Make sure that the post-manicure nail polishes don’t separate while sitting in the bottle; a sure sign of age and infection. Also, avoid hiding your nails by covering them with polish in case of a fungal infection as it traps moisture and worsens the condition. Avoid artificial nails entirely.
Prior to washing dishes or other excessive moisture exposing activities, wear water resistant rubber gloves to avoid under-nail water and dirt accumulation. Moreover, bacteria in plants can enter tiny cuts and scratches in the fingers during gardening, so wear gloves for that too. However, remember to flip, wash and dry your gloves after each use.
Nail biting can cause ripping, tearing and bleeding in the skin, hence opening a gateway for germs and fungi to enter and infect the nail beds, so avoid nail biting and ripping or biting off hangnails. Similarly, cleanse cuts and scrapes on your feet with an antiseptic immediately upon discovery.
A healthy diet comprised of the following nutrients provides your body with the tools to help fight nail fungus from the inside:
- Vitamin D
- Essential fatty acids
- Probiotic-rich yogurt
- Lean protein to support nail growth
- Iron-rich foods to prevent brittleness
Fungal nail infections are extremely unsightly and can be particularly difficult to treat. So consult with your doctor on the right medication if you are prone to infections, or follow this fungal nail treatment guide. You can also book an appointment with a top Dermatologist in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your nail troubles.
About the Writer:
Yashfa Marrium is a freelance writer and health enthusiast. You can reach her at [email protected].