Preventing Nail Fungus
Fungal nails can be resistant to treatment, and are often more difficult to treat successfully than Athlete's foot or other funguses. However, there a variety of treatment options available for nail fungus, and there are new treatment options, some of which are proving very successful, coming out all the time.
Topical medications or oral antifungal medications may be prescribed by your podiatrist, but more and more patients are opting for newer treatments now, like laser treatment for toenail fungus. Laser treatment is effective in clearing up nail fungus, and it is a safe treatment with few possible side effects. A more permanent form of treatment for nail fungus is removal of the nail.
But, whatever treatment you have, once you have successfully rid yourself of the fungal infection, it is important to take precautions to ensure the fungus won’t return.
Staying on top of your nail health and continuing to take precautions and treat the problem will help you to prevent re-infection of the nail. Before you turn in at night, bathe your feet, making sure to always dry your feet completely, and use a non-prescription anti-fungal cream on your feet afterward. Apply the cream to the foot from the ankle down, covering the entire area. You can apply the cream to your feet every night at first. After a while, though, you can slow down your use of the cream and taper off the treatment. Remember to try and maintain dry feet at all times. If your feet sweat a lot, try applying a powder in your shoes or on your feet and change you socks and shoes often. Moist feet are much more likely to become infected, so this is an important part of staying fungus-free. You can also apply powder to your dry feet after showering or bathing.
Other tips to maintain fungus-free feet and nails:
- Keep your feet clean and inspect your feet and toes often for any changes.
- Avoid sharing bathroom supplies, like nail clippers or files, with other people. Infections can spread fairly easily.
- On the same note, avoid wearing other peoples’ shoes or socks.
- Nail trauma can lead to the development of an infection, so be careful when doing your nail trimming and try to avoid cutting your nails too short.
- Change your socks often and keep them dry.
- Choose footwear that allows for some air circulation.
- Don’t go barefoot in public areas, like locker rooms or pools
- Trim nails straight across. The nail does not need to extend beyond the tip of the toe.
- Foot powders are helpful, but be sure to use a quality powder (talcum, not cornstarch).
- Hosery can lead to fungus problems because they cause perspiration and moisture to develop. If you wear hosery, make sure it fits well and isn’t too tight.
- Keep your at-home foot care items hygienic and disinfected, this includes nail clippers, home pedicure tools, etc.
- If you suspect an infection, don't apply nail polish.
The basic foot care guidelines can help you avoid developing most fungal problems in your feet.
However, recurrence really depends on the type of infection and treatment you had and other factors, and in some cases over-the-counter liquid antifungal agents and the above tips may not be enough to prevent recurrence. Your podiatrist may prescribe a topical or oral medication, and may want to do a debridement on the nail, which means removing the diseased nail matter and any debris that may have built up.
In some more severe cases when a chronically painful nail hasn’t responded to other treatments, a surgical procedure may be necessary. A podiatrist can remove the infected nail entirely.
If you suspect a nail infection, see a podiatrist. Your podiatrist can discuss the best treatment options for your specific case with you. The more quickly a fungal nail is treated, the easier it is to treat. You can contact our office at (888) 713-0906 for more information or to set up an appointment.Note: Please consult your physician before taking any medications.