No-one likes to talk about it, but many people experience fungal and nail infections. Read on to see how to avoid these types of infections, and what to do if you have an infection on your feet or toenails.

Nail fungus is often caused by something called a ‘dermatophyte’, which is a pathogenic fungus found growing on skin, hair, nails and other bodily surfaces.

When a dermatophyte gets underneath your nail, it causes yellow/brownish discolouration and the nail can become quite thick and maintain a crumbly texture when cut.

If left untreated, the skin underneath your nail can become inflamed and/or painful – and it may retain a foul smell. It is so important to contact a podiatrist at the first indication of a fungal or nail infection, to avoid further complications.

How can I avoid fungal and nail infections?

The answer mostly lies in good foot hygiene. Examples include:

  • Frequently wash your feet
  • Never share nail clippers or nail files
  • Avoid going barefoot in public establishments – such as showers or pool areas
  • Keep your nails trimmed regularly with no sharp edges
  • Never wear the same pair of socks two days in a row
  • Never share footwear with other people
  • Wear footwear that fits properly and is breathable.

All of the above will help to keep germs at bay, and prevent moisture from building up in your toenail area which can lead to infection.

How do I treat fungal and nail infections?

Some at-home treatments include washing your socks and/or hosiery with a combination of hot water and an anti-fungal wash. It can also help to clean and air your shoes regularly, alternating them with another pair to allow for a thorough cleaning.

Keep all floor surfaces clean by vacuuming regularly – and be sure to disinfect the base of your shower or tub directly after someone with a fungal infection has showered or soaked.

In addition, pharmaceutical treatments can include a range of products on the market. It is very important to precisely follow the instructions outlined on these products – and follow through until the infection is completely resolved. If your condition doesn’t improve or worsens, please see a podiatrist.

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