Preventing toenail fungus may not be at the top of your to-do list, but perhaps it should be. Fungi are nearly everywhere in our environment, and they particularly love dark, moist, warm places, like inside your shoes. That makes it relatively easy to stumble upon a toenail fungal infection (onychomycosis).
How Nail Fungus Infections Develops
Toenail fungal infections are most often caused by microscopic organisms called dermatophytes. These organisms feed on keratin, the protein found in nails and hair.
There are several factors that increase your risk of developing a toenail fungal infection. Most people contract toenail fungus from a fungal skin infection, which is then transferred to the nail. The wrong footwear can also take a toll on your toes. If toenails are traumatized by pressure from ill-fitting shoes, for instance, they’re weakened and more susceptible to fungus, she says.
Toenail fungus can cause the nails to become thick, discoloured, and brittle, which can cause pressure on the underlying nail bed, from this an ulcer develops as pressure increases. Toenail fungus can even cause the toenail to crumble and separate from the nail bed, which can lead to difficulty walking due to the pain.
Prevention is key when it comes to nail fungus, as once an infection develops it is very hard to get rid of.
Healthy Habits to Prevent Toenail Fungus
- Clip your toenails correctly. Cut your toenails with properly sanitized nail scissors or clippers and make sure to cut them straight across. Use a nail file to gently file any sharp edges.
- Wear properly fitted shoes. Shoes shouldn’t be touching your toenails in any way. Avoid sliding into shoes that are too big and jamming your toenails into the end of the shoe.
- Choose breathable footwear. The more air that’s able to circulate around your feet, the drier and less susceptible to toenail fungus they’ll be.
- Alternate your shoes. Putting on shoes that are still damp from yesterday’s sweaty workout will only increase your risk of a toenail fungal infection, so invest in a few good pairs and rotate them.
- Avoid going barefoot in public areas. Locker rooms, public pools, showers, and similar areas are loaded with fungi just waiting to get to your toes. “Always wear flip-flops, sandals, or shower shoes in a moist environment,” Andersen says.
- Disinfect regularly. Scrub your shower and disinfect it with a bleach-based cleanser. Wash your feet daily, making sure to thoroughly dry them afterward, especially between the toes where moisture can get trapped.
- Use Anti-Fungal Products. Use antifungal products to keep fungi at bay. Use them regularly to prevent the growth of fungi spores. Take a look at some of the anti-fungal products we have on offer in our online store.