two women in pool togetherFungus is everywhere. It lives in the air, on surfaces, in and on your body. It's easily transmitted. And it causes onychomycosis or toenail fungus.

You're concerned because your best friend has it and you want to avoid it.

The first thing you need to know is that there are many reasons or risk factors for acquiring toenail fungus. Just because your best friend has it doesn't mean you're going to get it.

So here's the skinny on those risk factors you can control and those you can't.

Risk Factors You Can't Control

  • Getting older - as we age we've had more exposure to fungus, our nails don't grow as fast, and we have poorer circulation.
  • A family history - research show a lower prevalence of toenail fungus in people whose spouses have it than that of their children.
  • Diabetes, HIV, psoriasis, and medications that decrease the immune system - fungus is more likely to take over when your immune system is weak or you have poor circulation and little or no ability to feel your feet.

Factors You Can Control

Factor #1 Sweat laden shoes and socks - fungus loves and grows well in damp environments

Solutions: Wear socks that wick away moisture from your feet. Avoid cotton and stick to synthetic fibers such as polypropylene. Purchase a shoe sanitier which uses ultraviolet light to kill 99.9% of the bacteria fungus in your shoes. If you don't want to buy a shoe sanitizer, be sure to rotate your shoes every day so they can dry out.

Factor #2 Nail trauma -- it welcomes the fungus in since the barrier between the nail and the outside environment has been broken.

Solution: Make sure your shoes aren't too tight and that there is plenty of room at the toebox.

Factor #3 Going barefoot in locker rooms, pools, and public showers - the damp moist environment combined with fungus from other people's feet puts you more at risk when you expose your toes in these situations.

Solution: Always wear flip flops in these situations.

Factor #4 Going to nail salons - nail salons can be hotbeds of fungus. Some salons don't clean their tools or footbath properly.

Solution: Get recommendations for nail salons that are safe, don't allow the technician to clip your cuticles, and/or do your pedicures at home.

Factor #5 Sharing things with someone who has toenail fungus.

Solution: Don't share nail clippers, nail files, or nail polish with anyone who has toenail fungus, even you best friend.

If you take these precautions you will lower your risk for toenail fungus.

If you think you may have fungus, call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment, often same day. You can also request an appointment online. Learn more about toenail fungus treatment.

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