Summer is the time many people look forward to wearing sandals and taking barefoot walks on the beach. But if you’re dealing with toenail fungus, the thought of wiggling your toes in the sand may bring more apprehension than joy.
Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a very common fungal infection. And while normally harmless, toenail fungus can cause embarrassment and in some cases pain and discomfort. It can also be difficult to get rid of.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to both prevent and treat the condition. First, learn what to look for:
Signs of Toenail Fungus
- A white or yellow spot appears under the tip of the nail
- Nail becomes brittle or develops a yellow or brownish color
- Nail thickens, changes shape, or crumbles at the edges
- Area around the nail becomes painful
- Nail detaches from the skin or nail bed
Are You At Risk?
Men and older adults are more likely to develop toenail fungus. People with diabetes and circulation problems in the legs are also at increased risk. Other risk factors include:
- Athlete’s foot or skin conditions like psoriasis
- Toenail injuries
- A weakened immune system
- Family history of toe fungus
- Exposure to fungi in swimming pools, nail salon, gyms
- Wearing dirty or tight-fitting shoes
Can Toenail Fungus Be Prevented?
There are steps you can take to help reduce the likelihood of developing toenail fungus:
- Keep your feet dry and clean–fungi need moisture to thrive
- Choose socks that wick away moisture
- Choose well-fitting shoes made of a material that breathes – canvas, mesh, leather
- Wear shower shoes in wet public places like locker rooms and swimming pools
- Trim toenails straight across, keeping them shorter than the end of your toe. Wash tools (clippers, files) with soap and water, then wipe with rubbing alcohol.
And, always keep an eye on your toes for any changes, discoloration, cuts, or damage.
Since toenail fungus can resemble other conditions including psoriasis, it’s important to first be checked out by your family doctor or a podiatrist. Treatment options depend on both the type of fungus and degree of infection. Your doctor may recommend:
- A topical cream like JUBLIA (efinaconazole) that is applied directly to the nail
- A topical nail lacquer
- An antifungal oral medication like Lamisil (terbinafine)
- Removing the damaged area
- In some cases, the nail may need to be removed
And finally, while it may be tempting to cover discolored nails with polish, resist the temptation. Nail polish prevents your nails from breathing, making it more difficult to get rid of the fungus.