A common occurrence in any medical practice is the patient who waits and waits to seek treatment simply because they feel embarrassed about a condition or symptom they’re experiencing. At our practice, the embarrassing culprit is usually toenail fungus. This unwanted guest will take up residence and the human host will just keep covering it up, hoping someday it will go away. But this course of action usually doesn’t do the trick. So, let’s break down some of the stigmas and talk about toenail fungus prevention and treatment.
Toenail fungus is a type of fungal infection that affects the toenail. And, contrary to what the wary patients keeping the condition hidden in their shoes for months on end would have you believe, it’s a pretty common condition. Initially, toenail fungus presents as a white or yellowish spot on the toenail. Left untreated, this discoloration will permeate the entire nail. Later, the nail can also grow quite thick or become brittle and flaky at the ends.
You can develop toenail fungus from someone else who is affected or from keeping your dirty sneakers in constant rotation. Fungus flourishes in moist, warm conditions. Think: Locker rooms, pools, or even sweaty shoes.
You are more susceptible to developing toenail fungus if:
- You are diabetic, have poor circulation, or are immunocompromised.
- You have a cut or injury on your foot.
- You have athlete’s foot.
- You find yourself in communal areas that are moist or warm, such as shower/locker rooms, pools, hot tubs, etc., especially if you are walking around barefoot.
- You share a living space with someone who has toenail fungus.
- You wear shoes and socks that don’t breathe.
- You work in a moist or warm environment.
- You have a family history.
- You sweat a lot.
- You have decreased blood flow to the feet.
While toenail fungus may simply seem an eyesore, it can also cause feet to smell and sometimes become painful. Toenail fungus can also leave toenails permanently damaged. If it goes without treatment for too long, toenail fungus can cause other health problems and lead to infections in other parts of the body.
Below are some tips for toenail fungus prevention:
- Treat injuries to your feet as soon as possible.
- Treat Athlete’s Foot as soon as possible.
- Wear something on your feet when walking around in communal areas.
- Wear shoes that are breathable and always remember to change your socks.
- Encourage treatment if someone you live with exhibits signs of toenail fungus.
- Eat healthy foods and engage in regular exercise to keep your immune system strong.
- Maintain healthy circulation by staying active.
While these tips and tricks will go a long way in helping you to prevent toenail fungus, you may be asking, “What if I already have it?”
Treatments for toenail fungus include:
An antifungal prescription taken orally.
Medicated nail polish.
An antifungal nail cream applied topically.
- Removal of the nail to allow a new nail to grow.
Bottom line, if you believe you have toenail fungus there is no need to be embarrassed. At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle we are here to help. We will help develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. Book an appointment today!