Toenail fungus. It's ugly. It's nasty. And it's embarrassing.
If you know someone with toenail fungus, you've probably heard them complain endlessly about how awful it is and how it's preventing them from showing off their toes in the summer.
You may have also heard that it's tough to get rid of. Well, it is. And the problem is more than on the nail surface.
Although fungal toenails look really bad on the outside of the nail, the source of the problem is in the toenail bed. That's why if it was simply a matter of applying topicals to your nails, most people would be rid of it in a snap. But because it lurks beneath the surface of the nail it's much harder to treat.
The best possible solution is to prevent yourself from getting nail fungus in the first place. Although this isn't always possible it's worth knowing the hacks to reduce your risk for toenail fungus.
Socks Are Key to Controlling Fungus
Fungus loves to grow in a moist, dark environment. If you're a runner, love to hike, or have other athletic pursuits your feet are going to sweat when you're active. To combat fungus from growing you need to keep down the moisture levels in your shoes and socks.
- Change your socks when they are damp from sweat or your feet get wet.
- Wear clean, dry socks every day and apply over-the-counter antifungal powder inside socks to keep feet dry.
- Wear socks that wick away moisture
- Synthetic socks such as polypropylene or polyethylene are the best socks for wicking away moisture.
- Sock recommendations for runners are Thirty 48 made of Coolmax fabric or Wrightsock Coolmesh II.
- Sock recommendations for hikers are SmartWool Trekking Socks or a sock liner from Fox River will keep the moisture away from your feet.
Use An Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer
Another excellent way to keep your shoes dry and free of fungus is by using an Ultraviolet (UV) Shoe Sanitizer. UV Shoe sanitizers eliminate 99% of all fungus and bacteria from your shoes in 15 minutes.
Wear Flip Flops In Pool and Gym Locker Rooms
Nothing screams fungus like a pool or gym shower and locker room. Never ever go barefoot in these fungal hotbeds. Although I often tell my patients not to wear flip flops for everyday wear, this is the one time I absolutely recommend them.
Do A Home Pedicure
Nail salons can pass along nail fungus if they don't properly clean their tools and footbaths. It's always best to check ahead of time by asking how they sterilize their equipment (autoclaving is the best) and footbaths between clients. In addition, never let them cut your cuticles. Fungus and bacteria can enter the body through skin breaks. The best way to avoid fungus is to do a home pedicure.
Keep Nail Tools Clean and Don't Share
Don't use the same nail trimmer or file on healthy nails and infected ones. Also, nail fungus can spread among family members and friends who share nail tools. It's best for each person to have their own set of nail tools and avoid sharing with friends. If you need to share, be sure to clean and sanitize properly.
Wear Supportive Shoes
Wear shoes with good support and a wide toe area (in addition shoes should fit well and leave about a thumbs length from your toes to the tip of your shoes. Tight shoes can cause your unaffected toenails to lift making it easier for the fungal infection to develop in them).
Keep Your Weight Down
Nail fungus has been found much more frequently in people who are overweight or obese. It is also found often in people with diabetes. People with diabetes who have nail fungus are three times more likely to develop a foot ulcer than people without nail fungus.
If you think you have nail fungus, come in today for a consultation to determine the best way to treat it. Our office uses laser and other methods to give you the best chance for eliminating it.
Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.
Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.
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