Fungal nail infections can be unsightly and cause embarrassment, however, before I tackle the lengthy debate on treatment options, I thought I would provide some basic prevention tips.
Let’s Start at the Beginning - What is a Fungal Nail Infection?
Onychomycosis, also called tinea unguium, is a fungal infection that affects either the fingernails or toenails. Fungal infections normally develop over time, so any immediate difference in the way your nail looks or feels may be too subtle to notice at first.
Why Does It Develop?
A fungal nail infection occurs from the overgrowth of fungi in, under, or on the nail. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, so this type of environment can cause them to naturally overpopulate. The same fungi that cause jock itch (itchy crotch), athlete’s foot, and ringworm can cause nail infections. So could all gentlemen please wash their hands the next time they feel the urge to scratch their nether regions.
Fungi that are already present in or on your body can cause nail infections. If you have come in contact with someone else who has a fungal infection, it may have spread to you, so banish your partner to the spare room! Fungal infections affect toenails more commonly than fingernails because your toes are usually confined to your shoes, where they’re in a warm, moist environment.
If you get a manicure or pedicure at a nail salon, be sure to ask how the staff disinfects their tools and how often they do it. Tools, such as emery boards and nail clippers, can spread fungal infections from person-to-person if they’re not sanitised correctly.
Who Is at Risk of Fungal Infections?
There are many different causes of fungal nail infections, and each cause has a treatment of its own. Although many of the causes of a fungal nail infection are preventable, some risk factors increase the likelihood of developing it.
You’re more likely to develop a fungal nail infection if you:
· have a disease that causes poor circulation or diabetes
· are over age 65
· wear artificial nails
· swim in a public swimming pool
· have a nail injury
· have a skin injury around the nail
· have moist fingers or toes for an extended time
· have a weakened immune system
· wear closed-toe shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots (well that covers most men!)
Nail infections occur more often in men than in women, and the infections are found in adults more often than in children. If you have family members who often get these types of fungal infections, you’re more likely to get them as well. Older adults are at the highest risk of getting fungal infections of the nails because they have poorer circulation and their nails grow more slowly and thicken as they age.
Finally..... The Tips to Prevent Fungal Nail Infections
Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help prevent a fungal infection of the nails. Taking good care of your nails by keeping them well trimmed and clean is a good way to prevent infections. You should also avoid injuring the skin around your nails and If you’re going to have damp or wet hands for an extended amount of time, you want to wear rubber gloves.
Other ways to prevent fungal infections of the nails include:
· using antifungal sprays or powders regularly
· washing your hands after touching infected nails
· drying your feet well after showering, especially between your toes
· getting manicures or pedicures from trustworthy salons
· using your own items for manicures or pedicures
· wearing socks that minimize moisture
· avoid being barefoot in public places (changing rooms especially)
· reducing your use of artificial nails and nail polish
So that covers a ‘brief’ introduction to Fungal Nail Infections and Tips to Prevent Infection. Part 2 will cover treatment options available should you already be suffering from a fungal infection.