We know that fungal nails can be an embarrassing topic to talk about. For many of us, whenever this condition develops, the first thing that comes to mind is to cover it up and hide it from the world. Out of sight – out of mind, right?
Concealing fungal nails only leads to bigger problems. This is especially true when it comes to toenail fungus – our feet are routinely stuffed into socks and shoes where fungus can easily thrive in the dark and moist environment. Which leaves no wonder as to why toenail fungus is such a common condition worldwide afflicting 1 in every 6 people today.
Toenail fungus is often caused by microscopic organism which feed on keratin (the protein found in our nails and hair). It usually begins as a white or yellowish spot underneath the tip of the nail and, if left untreated, the nail can begin to change color, thicken and crumble. Not to mention that it is contagious, meaning that other toenails may also start showing signs of infection.
The good news is that usually you can take care of the situation through easy home remedies if the nail is not infected. However, if the nail has become thick and/or painful, then it’s probably a good idea to see a podiatrist.
So, let’s talk more about this embarrassing condition – what are the symptoms and risk factors, and what can you do to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Is That Fungus Growing in Your Nail?
If you are wondering how to spot a fungal nail, then here are some things to look for:
- Changes in texture or shape. Ask yourself if the nail seems to have become thicker, and if the nail is crumbling or brittle. Look for any changes in the overall shape of the nail.
- Changes in color. Ask yourself if the nail has developed any white spots, or brown or yellow streaks. Look for any debris building underneath the nail causing it to turn a dark color.
- Ask yourself if the area is emitting any strange or foul odor.
- Ask yourself if the area is swelled or painful, dry or itchy.
Unfortunately, some of us are more prone than others to developing fungal nails. So, you should also consider if that is the case for you.
What Are the Risk Factors?
While anyone can get fungal nails, some people are naturally at a greater risk. As a matter of fact, your age, gender, genetic structure and everyday habits can play a huge role in the development of a fungal nail – from your favorite nail polish to the sports you routinely play, there are many factors which may increase your risk of experiencing nail fungus.
The most common risk factors are:
- Walking barefoot in damp or wet environments like pools and gyms.
- Sweating excessively leading to nails always being surrounded by moisture.
- Having diabetes – which usually comes with poor circulation and weakened immune system.
- Being an older adult and having weaker or cracking nails.
If one or more of these risk factors apply to you, there is no need to worry! There are plenty of things you can do to ensure this pesky issue never becomes a permanent reality in your life.
How Can You Prevent Toenail Fungus?
As it is true in many cases, the answer here is to prevent, prevent, prevent. Before you even start experiencing symptoms of fungal nails, you should always:
- Wear flip-flops or open-toe shoes when you are walking in areas which are moist or damp like locker rooms and public showers.
- Trim your nails the right way – keep them short (but not too short) and make sure to cut the nail straight across rather than in an arch.
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks or change your socks throughout the day if they become damp or wet.
- Treat your shoes routinely with disinfectants or antifungal powders.
- Throw away infected shoes, especially if you just completed a toenail fungus treatment.
- Wash your hands and feet regularly, as well as, moisturize your nails after every wash.
- Choose a nail salon that always uses sterilized manicure tools for each customer.
Of course, we understand that although taking these precautionary measures can substantially reduce the risk of developing fungal nails, the reality is that this condition can not only still occur, but is also contagious. It may even come back in the future.
We Are Here to Help!
So, if you have tried every trick in the book and yet nothing seems to be working, come visit us today! Here at Carmel Foot Specialist, P.A. our goal is to make you feel better, quickly and completely. And, we are equipped with the best tools and medical professionals to get the job done.
To schedule an appointment, just call the office which is most convenient to your location:
- Myers Park: (704) 334-8682
- South Charlotte: (704) 542-8253
Or, simply fill out our request form online. Our experienced staff will be happy to assist you!