How to prevent and treat nail fungus

When a nail thickens, discolors, splits, and
lifts from the nail bed, it often indicates that the nail is infected by a fungus. Fungal nail infections are more common on
the toenails than the fingernails. Although fungal nail infections tend to run
in families because of an inherited tendency, not everyone is susceptible. To prevent nail fungus, dermatologists recommend
the following precautions: Keep your toenails trimmed short. This helps prevent debris from building up
under the nails and minimizes the risk of nail injuries. Cut the nails straight across to keep them
strong and avoid ingrown toenails. Wear shoes that properly fit. They should never touch your toenails, and
you should alternate the shoes you wear every day so that they can air out before you wear
them again. Choose breathable footwear. Fungus thrives in warm, moist areas, like
in hot sweaty shoes. Wear sandals whenever possible and if you
have to wear socks, choose ones that wick moisture away from your skin.

Use antifungal sprays or powders. Spray or sprinkle it inside your shoes and
on your socks before putting your shoes on to control sweat that can prompt fungal infections. This is especially important in hot weather
or before a workout. Avoid going barefoot in public facilities
like pools and locker rooms, as the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, ringworm and
other skin conditions may be on the floor. Even when taking a shower in a public place,
it’s important to wear shower shoes or flip flops. To avoid infection, never wear someone else’s
shoes or share nail clippers and files. If you go to a nail salon for a pedicure,
look around to make sure that staff are sanitizing tools and thoroughly disinfecting footbaths
before each use. Or, use your own footbath. If the salon does not appear clean, move on. Nail fungus is better prevented than treated. If caught early, nail fungus may clear with
an over-the-counter antifungal cream, lotion, gel or lacquer. However, most fungal nail infections require
prescription antifungal medications. Laser treatments may also be used. If you notice a problem with your nails, see
a board-certified dermatologist. Nail fungus can take up to a year to clear,
so it’s important to begin treatment as soon as it’s diagnosed.

To learn more about nails or find a dermatologist
in your area, visit aad.org..

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