person with arms around legsEvery day I have patients who call my office wanting treatment for fungal nails. In addition to being unsightly, the fungus can spread to others and nails can become painful, thick, difficult to cut, and ingrown. In addition, there's an increases risk for ulcers in patients with diabetes.

10 Top Prevention Strategies for Toenail Fungus

For these reasons it's important to take the necessary precautions to prevent a fungal nail infection. These recommendations will also help reduce the chance of spreading the infection to your other toenails and other people and is best practice when you get toenail fungus treatment.

  • Don't use the same nail trimmer or file on healthy nails and infected ones (be sure to keep your nail implements for your own use to prevent spread to other family members).

  • Keep your toenails short. When your toenails get long and start to hit the top of your shoe, the nail bed is more likely to lift and letting in fungus.

  • Wear socks made of wicking material to draw moisture from the skin (an excellent sock is the Copper Anti-bacterial Antifungal Low Cut Socks; these are wicking and anti-microbial. If you're a hiker a sock liner from Fox River will keep the moisture away from your feet. Avoid wearing cotton. 

  • 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 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).

  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms (always wear flip flops to prevent spread of the infection to others).

  • Be sure your nail salon is properly cleaning their instruments. To be totally safe do your own pedicure.

  • Wear a different pair of shoes every day to let them dry out between wearings.

  • Use a UV shoe sanitizer like Shoe Zap to kill the fungus in your shoes and keep down your fungal load.

Factors That Increase Your Risk

  • Trauma to the nail—either direct (eg. stubbing injury) or repetitive microtrauma (eg. running in a tight shoe)—can cause damage to the nail plate allowing fungus to get in.

  • Aging – as people age they are more likely to have trauma to the nail and more opportunity for exposure to fungus.

  • Diabetes, HIV, and medications which decrease the strength of the immune system increases the risk of developing a fungal toenail infection.

If you have fungal nails and would like to learn more about how the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City treats them, visit our Seattle Fungal Toenail Center.

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