Summer is just around the corner and you may want to think twice before lounging barefoot and breaking out your flip-flops. With water activities and heatwaves comes dreaded toenail fungus. After all, the last thing you want hindering you from your long-awaited family vacation is a painful fungus (aka Onychomycosis) growing beneath your toenails.
Various fungal organisms typically enter toenails in the cracks of dry and brittle nails. However, age, slow blood circulation and a weakened immune system all play a role in developing Onychomycosis. Toenail fungus often spreads from one nail to the other; so be sure to take preemptive steps to prevent the fungi from multiplying.Prevention If you notice a white or yellow spot under your toenail, you just may have caught the beginning phase of Onychomycosis. It is imperative to take action now to avoid a worsening infection. The following self-care steps should be implemented into your daily regime to help counteract the infection and/or prevent the infection in the first place:
- Wash your feet regularly and make sure your feet are clean. If you touched an infected nail, be sure to immediately wash your hands.
- Clip and file nails straight across; disinfect your nail clippers before and after each use. With warmer months approaching, be sure to read up on how to maintain healthy feet in the summer.
- Frequently change and wash your socks to avoid infection.
- Wear supportive shoes.
- Wear orthotic sandals for outwear use (that includes pool areas and locker rooms).
- Avoid nail polish during the infection.
If the above self-care steps are not healing the toenail, then further treatment is required. Topical and oral medications are two options that offer a more potent cure. The cure rate for all topicals is in the 20-30% range and oral is around 75%. Lamasil tablets are an oral medication that should be taken once a day for three months. During this treatment period, patients must first visit their podiatrist for a blood test to check their liver.
For those with diabetes or reduced blood circulation, take extra caution if you suffer from Onychomycosis. It may develop into other serious infections that spread beyond your toenails. For those with diabetes, an annual checkup with your podiatrist is vital in conjunction with exercising and a healthy diet.
Do note that toenail fungus frequently comes back. Even if you do not suffer from diabetes, frequent checkups with your podiatrist are highly recommended.
Onychomycosis is internally painful and externally unpleasant. Your feet should be comfortable and healthy year-round; a toenail infection should never hinder you from activities. If you take proactive measures now (such as wearing supportive shoes and having regular checkups with your podiatrist) your feet will thank you in the months and years to come.
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hurless
DPM, FACFAS Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon/Podiatrist
Medical Director, HealthyFeetStore.com