How to prevent and treat nail fungus
When a nail thickens, discolors, splits, andlifts from the nail bed, it often indicatesthat the nail is infected by a fungus. Fungal nail infections are more common onthe toenails than the fingernails. Although fungal nail infections tend to runin families because of an inherited tendency,not everyone is susceptible. To prevent nail fungus, dermatologists recommendthe following precautions:Keep your toenails trimmed short. This helps prevent debris from building upunder the nails and minimizes the risk ofnail injuries. Cut the nails straight across to keep themstrong and avoid ingrown toenails. Wear shoes that properly fit. They should never touch your toenails, andyou should alternate the shoes you wear everyday so that they can air out before you wearthem again. Choose breathable footwear. Fungus thrives in warm, moist areas, likein hot sweaty shoes. Wear sandals whenever possible and if youhave to wear socks, choose ones that wickmoisture away from your skin. Use antifungal sprays or powders. Spray or sprinkle it inside your shoes andon your socks before putting your shoes onto control sweat that can prompt fungal infections. This is especially important in hot weatheror before a workout. Avoid going barefoot in public facilitieslike pools and locker rooms, as the fungusthat causes athlete’s foot, ringworm andother skin conditions may be on the floor. Even when taking a shower in a public place,it’s important to wear shower shoes or flip flops. To avoid infection, never wear someone else’sshoes or share nail clippers and files. If you go to a nail salon for a pedicure,look around to make sure that staff are sanitizingtools and thoroughly disinfecting footbathsbefore each use. Or, use your own footbath. If the salon does not appear clean, move on. Nail fungus is better prevented than treated. If caught early, nail fungus may clear withan over-the-counter antifungal cream, lotion,gel or lacquer. However, most fungal nail infections requireprescription antifungal medications. Laser treatments may also be used. If you notice a problem with your nails, seea board-certified dermatologist. Nail fungus can take up to a year to clear,so it’s important to begin treatment assoon as it’s diagnosed. To learn more about nails or find a dermatologistin your area, visit aad. org.