The medical term for toenail fungus is onychomycosis and it is quite a common problem with an estimated 48% of people living in the U.S getting at least one infection in their lives. There are actually several types of fungi that can cause a nail infection but all thrive in the conditions there, because it is dark, warm and moist.
They feed on the protein in the nails, the keratin, and cause symptoms such as discoloring, thickness, brittleness, crumbling, weakening, debris under the nail, lifting, miss-shaped and can even be painful. The chances of developing a fungal infection in the nails increase as you age. There are other factors though that can cause it to happen, and knowing those is the key to preventing toenail fungus.
Preventing toenail fungus as much as possible
- The main culprit of fungi responsible for toenail fungus are Dermatophytes and these can be picked up from public areas like pools, locker rooms, hotel floors and so on. So it is very important to wear sandals in any public area rather than walking around barefoot. The fungi can live in such places for many months waiting for a human host to hop onto.
- Avoid wearing shoes or footwear that are too tight. This encourages the moist conditions and can cause injury which then makes you more prone to infection.
- Try to avoid injury or causing damage to the nail, wear appropriate footwear according to the situation you are in.
- Cut your nails correctly, straight across in the case of toenails, and do not cut them too short. Ideally, toenails should be just slightly longer than where the flesh of the toe ends.
- Clean your feet and toes every day, and wear new socks and hosiery each day. If possible have shoes you can rotate through so they have a chance to dry from being worn the previous day.
- Dry your feet properly after washing them and consider using a foot powder.
- Avoid using layers of nail polish, take the last layer off before applying a new one.
- If you have very sweaty feet, use a foot antiperspirant spray, keep powder on you, wear shoes made from a breathable material that allows air to circulate, wear open shoes if possible.
- Do not sleep with socks on, use that time to air them out!
- There are anti-fungal sprays or powders you can use in your shoes that may help in preventing toenail fungus if you are prone.
- Store your shoes in a place that lets them air out, not somewhere they will accumulate moisture.
- Make sure you clean your bath and shower thoroughly each week.
- Do not share socks, shoes, towels and so on.
- Disinfect pedicure items, and if you use a nail salon make sure they have hygienic practices in place for preventing toenail fungus or other health issues.
- Attack nail fungus internally with the proper diet