Nail fungus is better prevented than treated. Period.
If you get nail fungus – more common on the toenails than the fingernails, your symptoms could include yellow or brown nails, or nails that lift up from the nail bed or split or crumble. Without treatment, nail fungus can worsen and make it not only painful to wear shoes, but cause other harmful effects to the body and even partial amputation.
If caught early enough, nail fungus may clear with an over-the-counter antifungal cream, lotion, gel or lacquer. However, most fungal nail infections require prescription antifungal medications or even laser treatments. So, with that said, it’s better not to have it all. So here are six tips to stop it before it even starts.
1. Keep your toenails trimmed short.
This helps prevent debris from building up under the nails and minimizes the risk of nail injuries. Cut your nails straight across to keep them strong and avoid ingrown toenails.
2. Wear shoes that properly fit.
They should never touch your toenails. In addition, alternate the shoes you wear daily so that they can air out before you wear them again.
3. Choose breathable footwear.
Fungus thrives in warm, moist areas, like in hot sweaty shoes. Wear sandals whenever possible, and if you have to wear socks, choose ones that wick moisture away from your skin.
4. Use antifungal sprays or powders.
Spray or sprinkle it inside your shoes and on your socks before putting your shoes on to control sweat that can prompt fungal infections.
This is especially important in hot weather or before a workout.
5. Avoid going barefoot in public facilities like pools and locker rooms.
Even when taking a shower in a public place, it’s important to wear shower shoes or flip flops, as the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, ringworm and other skin conditions may be on the floor.
6. Never wear someone else’s shoes or share nail clippers and files.
If you go to a nail salon for a pedicure, look around to make sure that staff is sanitizing tools and thoroughly disinfecting footbaths before each use, or use your own footbath.
If the salon does not appear clean, move on.
RELATED: Cure Your Toenail Fungus With These Natural Remedies
When to see a doctor
Symptoms of nail fungus include a nail or nails that are:
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged
- Separated from the nail bed
If your condition is mild and not bothering you, you may not need treatment. Nail fungus that is painful and causes thickened nails may be treated through self-care steps or medications. Unfourtanetly, even if treatment is successful, nail fungus often comes back.
If self-care steps haven’t helped and your nail becomes increasingly discolored, thickened or misshapen or you have any of the following, you should talk with your healthcare provider:
- Diabetes and think you’re developing nail fungus
- Bleeding around the nails
- Swelling or pain around the nails
- Difficulty walking