3 Easy Tips for Preventing Toenail Fungus
Practice Good Foot and Nail Hygiene
Wash your feet with soap and water regularly, paying special attention to the spaces between the toes. Rinse them off and dry completely. Keep the toenails short, cutting them straight across without getting too close to the skin. File down any thickened nails. Use sandals or shoes when walking around public areas such as showers, gyms and pools, and avoid sharing nail clippers, socks or shoes with friends or family members. Avoid picking or trimming the skin around the nails, which gives fungal infections access to the nails and skin. When choosing a nail salon, find a reputable establishment that uses sterile equipment.
Wear the Right Shoes and Socks
Wear moisture-wicking socks such as nylon, polypropylene and wool to prevent sweaty feet, and change socks frequently. Treat or discard old shoes that may harbor fungi, and choose open-toed or roomy footwear to avoid trapping moisture. Opt for breathable shoe materials such as leather, and avoid plastic and other humidity-trapping materials. Remove your shoes once in a while to help keep your feet dry.
Use an Antifungal Cream
In addition to treating nail fungus, antifungal creams can also prevent recurrence. Wash your feet before bed, and apply topical ciclopirox, terbinafine or a similar medication to the nail or skin two times per week for up to a year. Prescription oral medications may also prevent fungal regrowth, and you may also use antifungal powders or sprays on your feet and the inside of your shoes for further protection. If using an antifungal medication for a current infection, take the full course as prescribed by your doctor even if all visible symptoms of the fungus have disappeared.
Fungal spores are always present in the environment and are just waiting to infect your toenails under the right circumstances. Fungi thrive on sweaty feet, and a fungus can quickly spread from nail to nail once an infection takes hold. Even after treatment, your toenails can easily become re-infected, so follow these three tips to keep the infection from returning.
Avoid the temptation to use nail polish and artificial nails on a daily basis, as both can trap moisture and lead to infection. When working with your nails, be careful to avoid injury that can give fungi a foothold. You must be especially cautious of toenail infections if you have diabetes. If you experience recurrent infections, talk to your doctor about a treatment option that's best for you, and remember that a combination of preventative measures gives you the best chance of keeping infections at bay.