Toenail fungus can creep up on you. Sweaty feet, public showers and long toenails can all contribute to fungal nail infections, and they start slow without you noticing.
We all like to think this doesn’t apply to us. Only other people get toenail fungus. But that person could be you unless you are following the proper toenail rituals that will help keep your feet safe from the dreaded fungus.
Toenail fungus tends to be painless, but the nail can become discoloured as the fungus takes over – you’ve seen the pharmacy window dressings, the huge posters with someone’s very unsightly foot printed in high definition. This could be yellow or brown patches, or a combo colour festival, with the nails crumbled, cracked and split.
The top ways to avoid having to pay your dermatologist to have your toenail fungus lasered are:
- Keep your toenails short and cut more or less straight across to prevent hangnails and ingrown nails. This stops junk from accumulating underneath the nail, which can then enter the nail bed or skin if you break the skin.
- Wear properly fitting shoes that never push against your nails. If your shoes push against your nails, this can pass fungus from your shoe to your nail more easily.
- Alternate the shoes you wear every day, allowing your other shoes to be in a space that allows free air circulation. A musty cupboard may not be the best place.
- Check your family members. Toenail fungus runs in families, because everyone is using the same shower, spreading the fungus around. It’s not genetic; just close by.
- Wear breathable shoes. This helps keep air circulating, which fungus does not like. Fungus likes it damp and closed.
- If you do have fungus, get it treated, but also treat or throw out shoes that are likely to be affected.
- Don’t go barefoot in public pools and showers – wear flip flops or water shoes, and dry them out thoroughly afterwards.
- Don’t use other people’s nail clippers or shoes. You can catch their toenail fungus.
How do I know if I have toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus can be slow to develop, so check your nails regularly for any changes in colour or texture. If you suspect nail fungus, treating it quickly with lasers means a greater chance of completely eradicating the fungus. Don’t wait around hoping it will get better, because it won’t.
Treatment for toenail fungus starts off with basic over-the-counter treatments like special lotions, gels or nail laquer, but newer technology means lasers are also a great option because they can target areas that creams just can’t get to.