People using water shoes by a pool to avoid fungal nail problems

Fungal toenail infections are quite common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “they may affect up to 14% of the general population.

Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, directly affects your toenails and occurs when small cracks in your toenails or small abrasions in the skin surrounding your toenails come into contact with a type of fungi that thrives in moist environments.

Symptoms of a fungal toenail infection include discolored, thickened, or cracked toenails. It’s also possible for the infection to cause the toenail to separate from its nail bed, and for your nails to break easily. 

Toenail fungus can affect people of any age, but it seems to be most prevalent among older adults, as well as individuals who have diabetes, weakened immune systems, or have sustained a toenail injury. People with fungal toenail problems might also be fighting a fungal skin infection on the feet, usually between the toes. Athlete’s foot is one of the best examples of a fungal skin infection that accompanies toenail fungus.

Although a fungal toenail infection can start as a small and inconspicuous issue, it’s important to know that without proper treatment, the infection can worsen over time. As the infection progresses, your toenail may begin to emit a foul odor, become increasingly discolored, and make you feel embarrassed by its unsightly appearance. 

If you have had toenail fungus in the past, are at increased risk of developing toenail fungus, or simply want to prevent the issue before it develops, there are several precautions you can take to avoid contracting the infection.

Tips on Avoiding Fungal Toenail Problems

At Third Coast Foot and Ankle, Dr. Lucy Meier and Dr. Amy Miller-Guhl are passionate about educating their patients on the importance of proper foot care. Here are some useful tips we’d like to share in regard to reducing your risk of fungal toenail problems.

Don’t Walk Barefoot in Public Areas

As tempting as it may be to kick off your shoes and walk around barefoot, keep in mind that fungal spores thrive in warm, moist environments. When you find yourself in a locker room, sauna, shower, or similar public areas, protect your feet by placing a barrier between the floor and your bare skin. Doing so can reduce your risk of coming into contact with fungal spores. 

While at a public pool, be sure to pack a pair of flip-flops or shower shoes that you can wear every time you are walking in high-traffic areas where others tend to walk barefoot. Wearing shoes may not seem ideal in a poolside environment, but taking this simple precaution helps prevent fungal infections and sets a positive example for others. Why? Because you’re promoting healthy foot hygiene practices in public areas and contributing to a cleaner, safer environment for everyone.

Never Share Nail Care Tools

We’re taught from a young age that “sharing is caring.” But when it comes to hygiene products, it’s best—and safest—to keep certain items to yourself. This is certainly the case with toenail clippers and nail care tools such as nail files; don’t share these items with anyone. 

Fungal infections can spread easily because they are highly contagious—the spores can enter your feet through direct contact or by touching an infected surface. That’s also why it’s important to clean your nail clippers and nail care tools after each use. This ensures that any potentially harmful bacteria or fungi are eliminated, thereby decreasing your risk of infection.  

Keep Shoes and Socks Dry

Another way to prevent toenail fungus is by keeping your shoes and socks dry. Again, fungal spores survive—and multiply—in warm, moist environments. If you get caught in a rainstorm or cross a stream while hiking, be sure to change out of your damp shoes and socks as soon as possible, and then let them fully dry before putting them back on. 

Do Not Share Shoes and Socks

We cannot stress enough that certain personal items should not be shared for the sake of your health and the health of others. Just like some hygiene products, some personal items, including socks and shoes, should be worn by you and you alone. Sharing socks and/or shoes that are contaminated with fungal spores increases your chances of developing an infection, which is why it’s best to avoid both borrowing and lending.

Already Have Fungal Toenail Problems? We Can Help!

If you’re experiencing fungal toenail problems, please make an appointment at Third Coast Foot and Ankle so one of our podiatrists can evaluate your toenails and prescribe the treatment methods necessary to clear the infection. 

Dr. Amy Miller-Guhl and Dr. Lucy Meier are proud to treat patients of all ages who have toenail fungus. We encourage you to schedule an appointment so we can discuss the most effective treatment options, including topical medications, antifungal pills, and laser treatment.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatment is today’s latest and most advanced way to eradicate toenail fungus. At Third Coast Foot and Ankle, our podiatrists are proud to use Lunula Laser, a touchless light therapy solution that offers lasting results. 

Lunula Laser painlessly penetrates the nail and destroys the fungus causing the infection. Most laser treatment sessions last fewer than 15 minutes. A majority of patients notice improvement after only one or two sessions, but it’s important to note that it could take anywhere between six to twelve months for your toenail to return to normal. 

Lunula Laser is quick, effective, and non-invasive, making this a fantastic treatment option for toenail fungus.

Start Treating Your Fungal Toenail Problems

While fungal toenail problems are usually not a major cause for alarm, toenail fungus will not only worsen over time but also spread to other nails and cause a more serious infection. Third Coast Foot and Ankle can promptly address your fungal toenail problems, restoring the health and appearance of your toenail and preventing the infection from spreading (including to other people).

We invite you to schedule an appointment today by calling our Oak Creek office at 414-764-4500 or our New Berlin office at 262-821-1588. If you prefer, you may also submit an online contact form. Thank you for placing your trust in Third Coast Foot and Ankle!

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