There’s nothing “fun” about fungal toenails. At the very least, the thickened, yellow, distorted nails that a fungal infection creates can be quite embarrassing, and it can also lead to more severe complications, especially among those with a weakened immune system due to a condition such as diabetes.
Here in sunny Coachella Valley, where sandal season never truly ends, a fungal infection could significantly diminish your appetite for outdoor activity. That’s why the following prevention tips are crucial for helping you maintain those healthy, happy feet year round:
- Practice good general hygiene. That means thoroughly washing your feet with soap and water at least once per day (especially before bed), including between the toes.
- Don’t go barefoot in public, especially dank environments such as locker rooms or pool decks. Fungus spreads through contact with infected surfaces, and places that are hot and wet are especially attractive to them. Sandals or shower shoes are an absolute must.
- Trim toenails straight across, corner to corner, and not too short. This will help avoid ingrown nails, which provide an access point for fungi to reach the nail bed.
- Keep your feet dry. Moisture-wicking socks (try wool or nylon) and well-ventilated shoes are a must. If you have especially sweaty feet, change socks multiple times per day if you need to. It also helps to have at least two pairs of everyday shoes that you can rotate, giving each a day to dry out between uses.
- Use antifungal sprays or powders on your feet and inside your shoes.
- Avoid nail polish (even clear) or artificial nails, as they trap moisture and deprive your nails of needed ventilation.
- If you like to treat yourself to the occasional spa day, make sure the facility is licensed, reputable, and takes good care of their tools and equipment by sterilizing thoroughly after each use. It’s best to go early in the morning, and to bring your own tools if you have them.
Fungal toenail infections take time to eradicate. Even once the fungi is eliminated, the warped nail may take many months to grow out, so prevention really is the best treatment. Although there’s no such thing as 100% prevention, the above tips will go a long way to helping you keep your toenails clear and healthy for years to come, even if you’ve had infections in the past.