Don’t be embarrassed by toenail fungus this summer

Warm weather calls for more time outside, summer outfits and of course, sandals.

While lots of people don’t think twice about swapping their sneakers and boots for flip flops and sandals, there are some folks out there who dread this time of year.

That’s because there is a large percentage of people who are suffering from one of the many common skin and nail conditions that can affect our feet.

Unsightly skin rashes and discoloured toenails can definitely make a person feel a little self-conscious, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of and a lot more common than you think.

Don’t be embarrassed by toenail fungus this summer

toenail fungus

Now, while there are many conditions that can affect the skin and nails of the feet, today, we’re going to focus on one super common condition – fungal nails.

So, let’s talk about what they are, what causes it and what you can do about it!

What are fungal toenails?

Let’s start off by reiterating that nail fungus is pretty common.

It often starts off as a yellow or white dot that appears under the tip of your nail – it can affect both fingernails and toenails, however, is more common in the toenails.

Also known as onychomycosis, as your fungal nail condition worsens, it can cause the entire nail to become discoloured, very dry and even brittle.

What causes fungal nails?

Essentially, the cause of fungal nails is fungi entering the area. There are lots of different types of fungal organisms that can cause the condition, including yeast and moulds.

People of all ages can get fungal nails, and its most common cause is micro-trauma, where the trauma has caused a crack or split in the nail, which creates an entrance for the fungi to infiltrate the nail.

There are a number of other potential causes, including, but not regular use of nail polish – especially if you go to beauty salons; warm and moist environments, like pools and saunas; and various health conditions, like diabetes and auto-immune conditions.

While people of all ages can get fungal nails, it is more common in older people. This is because when we get older, our nails become drier and more brittle naturally, which means light trauma can occur easier.

How do I tell if I have fungal nails?

toenails

In many instances, the toenail fungus won’t be painful, but it can leave the toenail soft and/or brittle which may lead to pain.

Some of the signs that you might have nail fungus include:

  • Thickened nails
  • Discoloured nails – usually off-white, yellow or light brown
  • Crumbly or brittle nails
  • Ragged or distorted nail shape
  • A foul smell, usually not too strong

The most common of these symptoms is thickened and/or discoloured nails.

How can I avoid getting a fungal nail condition?

There are a number of preventative measures you can take to help you avoid developing this condition. These include wearing appropriately fitting shoes, as shoes that don’t fit properly can actually cause micro-trauma to the nails; drying your feet properly after showers and baths; wearing protective footwear like thongs when in public showers and pools; wearing socks made of natural, breathable materials, like cotton or bamboo as fungi love moist, warm environments; and, avoiding wearing nail polish for excessive periods of time.

What can I do if I have a fungal nail?

Some mild cases of fungal nail conditions will clear up on their own if you practice good hygiene. However, if you suspect you have nails that are infected by fungi, it’s a good idea to get them checked out by a professional expert, like a podiatrist.

A podiatrist will be able to diagnose the condition but also guide you in your next steps. There are many simple treatments that can help to rid nails of fungus, and they can also give you tips to help you avoid the condition in the future.

If you find yourself asking are podiatrists open during lockdown, the good news is that many podiatry clinics will have a range of their services available as the health of your feet is important!

So, if you’re looking to get fungus-free nails, book in to see your podiatrist today!

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