Temps are climbing and everywhere you look tootsies are peeking out from cool summer sandals. If you’ve got yours under wraps because of unsightly nail fungus, here’s some things you should know:
- The medical term for nail fungus is onychomycosis and it can affect fingers and toes. Typically the condition begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of a nail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, it causes yellowish discoloration, thickening, and lifting of the nail from the underlying skin of the nail bed. Toenails are particularly vulnerable because fungus thrives in the warm, moist environment closed-toe shoes provide.
- Fungi are microscopic organisms that can invade your skin through the tiniest of cuts or small separations between your nail and nail bed. Walking barefoot in damp, communal areas such as swimming pools, gyms and shower rooms increases your risk of contraction. Wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and don’t absorb perspiration worsens the situation.
- Age and gender can predispose you to developing the condition. Reduced blood flow and slower growing nails make older folk more susceptible. Being male, especially if you have a history of nail fungal infections ups the incidence too. So does having diabetes, circulation problems, a weakened immune system, or, in children, Down syndrome.
- Toenail fungus is contagious so throw a pair of flip-flops in your gym bag if you plan on showering there. Use an antiseptic cleanser to scrub down bathtubs, showers and tiled floors at home too to kill fungi because if one family member’s got it, it’s likely to spread.
- Over-the-counter anti-fungal nail creams and ointments are often effective though patience is required. Trim and thin thickened nails first before applying an anti-fungal product so the drug can reach deeper layers for a faster cure. According to the Mayo Clinic, some people have cleared up nail fungus by applying Vicks VapoRub daily. Others have found success using alternative medicines like snakeroot extract and tea tree oil.
- If nail fungus shows no improvement after two months of over-the-counter treatments, make an appointment to come in and see us at Contour Dermatology. Prescription-strength topicals and/or prescription oral anti-fungal medications might be in order. We’ll determine the best course of action so you can be footloose and fungus-free this summer and beyond!