If you have been living with a fungal toenail infection, we likely don’t have to tell you how much of a battle you can have brewing on your feet.
A thick, brittle, discolored, and crumbly disaster is often the work of certain types of fungus that don’t die easily. The sooner you begin treatment for a fungal toenail infection, the easier it tends to be to see real results and the higher the odds that the fungus will be entirely eradicated.
Unfortunately, in most cases a fungal infection is not noticed or diagnosed until it has had a good chance to settle in. So if you’re not currently undergoing treatment for your fungal nails, don’t wait any longer! We can help you right away and get you started on a treatment regimen.
Even if you have already started a program for clearing up your nails, it can still take quite some time to run the full course. Toenail fungus can dig deep into nail tissue and be notoriously difficult to attack. And even when fungus is fully killed for good, that does not mean the damaged toenail tissue will magically revert to its previous form. It has unfortunately been lost to the fungus, and will gradually be replaced as brand new, uninfected nail tissue grows out.
During this time, it is a significant help to take measures that will further aid treatment and not give the fungus itself any unexpected assistance. This also includes steps to help prevent fungus from spreading to your family or even back on your nails after treatment has concluded.
(Unfortunately, fungal toenail treatment does not mean immunity from re-infection!)
Here are a few ways you can join in on your fungal toenail fight and tip the odds ever more in your favor.
Lay Off Polish and Artificial Nails
We definitely understand the compulsion here. If your nails don’t look great, why not cover them up with something, right? And, perhaps as a bonus, you’re cutting off an air supply or something else the fungus needs to live!
Unfortunately, fungus doesn’t quite work that way.
There are three things fungus requires to survive: moisture, warmth, and low light. Your body will always supply warmth, so you can’t really do much about that one. When you cover your nails in polish or fake replacements, however, you are both providing more low light and potentially trapping moisture against the nail. It’s less making the fungus suffer than it is getting it a private room.
However, there are varieties of anti-fungal nail polish that may be recommended as part of a treatment plan. Those may serve a better purpose.
Wear Breathable Socks and Shoes
This goes back to what fungus loves. The more moisture you can keep away from your toes, the better.
Socks can have a mighty influence on how much moisture stays up against our feet. Materials that wick perspiration away will provide less potential sustenance for fungus, like cutting off a supply line.
Although cotton is a go-to for many socks, materials such as acrylic, merino wool, and polyester tend to be better at taking moisture away. If your feet sweat excessively, you should also consider bringing an extra pair of socks with you and switching to them halfway through the day.
As for shoes, you will want pairs with breathable mesh when possible (if you work a job where you need protection, always opt for that over breathability!). Also try to avoid shoes that press tightly against your toes or keep them crammed together. A toe box with enough room for your toes to move is not only good against toenail fungus, but general comfort and toe health as well.
Use Anti-fungal Measures Against Your Shoes
Even when your feet are not in your shoes, fungus can still survive well within your footwear under the right conditions.
Shoes need time to air out and dry after you wear them. The ideal period is 24 hours, so having another pair to switch into day by day is best. Try to keep them out of a darker area such as a closet, if possible, and put some anti-fungal powder in them for good measure.
Also, as a good general rule of thumb, never let anyone wear your shoes—and never wear anybody else’s shoes, either!
Trim and Thin Your Nails, If Necessary
While we may thin your nails in our office as part of treatment, it may still be an effective measure to keep up the work at home as well. Nails that are trimmed and thin will be easier for anti-fungal ointments to penetrate, hitting the fungus right where it lives.
We can show you the best ways to go about thinning and trimming, if needed. There may also be circumstances where we do not recommend you do this yourself.
Get the Help You Need to Fight Against Fungus
While there are plenty of touted “home remedies” for treating fungal nails, you never know whether they will have an effect or not. The best course of action is to consult a podiatrist who will not only determine exactly what you are dealing with, but provide proven methods for fighting back. For fungal nails, warts, and other problems concerning your skin and nails, schedule an appointment with Dr. Miyazaki. Call our Berkley office at (510) 647-3744 or, if you prefer to contact us electronically, send questions and appointment requests via our online form.