Toenail Fungus: Prevention and Treatment

 

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Mild case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

Severe case of toenail fungus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the warm weather, more people are letting their feet breathe by wearing comfortable sandals and flip-flips. And with all these toes out for a walk, I’m seeing a lot of toenail fungus. Some sources claim as many as 12% of us are affected. You might have it, too! Are your nails thick? Yellowed? Crumbly? What starts as a mild case on one big toe can spread to all ten digits, and eventually deform your nails. I see it on hands, too, but not as frequently.

To prevent an infection of toenail fungus, thoroughly wash and dry your feet daily. Use only clean cotton socks, and don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row (this lets the insides dry completely). In wet common-use areas like a sauna or gym shower, use shower shoes to prevent exposure. Definitely treat your feet to an extra scrub after your dip in a public pool or hot tub. If you go for professional pedicures, you should bring your own tools (running them in the dishwasher before and after to keep them clean) to prevent picking up an infection from another client. If you are prone to toenail fungus, you should forgo polish. Fungus actually lives on the dye of the polish, according to a podiatrist friend, so use a clear coat as a base.

If you are already infected, don’t worry. Just follow the above hygiene rules, and add in a twice-daily anti-fungal treatment. Lamisil is a popular over-the-counter topical product. Vicks Vap-O-Rub works well, too, because toenail fungus dislikes an acidic environment, and the vaseline base makes it stick to the area. Apply it morning and evening, after a thorough wash and dry, then cover with clean white socks. In 6-8 weeks you should see healthy nail growth.

People who prefer the “natural” route can use tea-tree oil or vinegar, but be aware that the treatment can take months. Severe cases should ask their doctor for prescription medication. And of course, acupuncture to help boost your immune system is a great idea, too. :)