Nobody wants toe fungus. It can cause your toenails to smell, become misshapen or turn yellow. Despite the unsightly symptoms, there’s no reason to be ashamed of the fungus, as there are over three million cases of it each year. Though seeking toe fungus treatment from your podiatrist is not always necessary, you may want to consider it if your condition is not responding to at-home treatments.
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
Fungus grows in places that are warm and damp, which explains why it grows so easily on your feet. However, there are certain factors that make your toenail more likely to get infected.
Injury or Aging
First, a broken toenail allows the fungus to get under your nail. This gives it the opportunity to spread and cause an infection. Your toenails become more likely to crack as you age, which is why older adults are more likely to need toe fungus treatment.
Going Barefoot in Public Spaces
Second, walking barefoot increases your risk of getting an infection. This is especially common in areas where multiple people are walking around barefoot, like a public locker room or shower. If one person has the infection, it can easily spread to anyone else who walks through the area without proper foot protection.
Wearing Shoes that Don’t Fit Right
Though you shouldn’t walk barefoot, you also don’t want to wear shoes that are too tight. This prevents air from getting to your feet, which, when combined with the fact that fungus grows well with moisture, increases your risk of infection. This is particularly a problem if you have sweaty feet or wear tight shoes while exercising.
Lifestyle & Genetics
Given the fact that moisture helps fungus to grow, people who spend a lot of time in the water are also at greater risk. Additionally, some people have a genetic predisposition to fungus. If anyone in your family has required toenail fungus treatment, you are more likely to need treatment.
Preventing Toenail Fungus
To prevent an infection from toenail fungus, you should regularly wash your feet, dry them when they get wet, and keep your nails short. It is also a good idea to wear shoes that let air in. Leather shoes are particularly good for this purpose.
If you have toe fungus, you shouldn’t paint your nails. As with tight shoes, this prevents them from getting the air they need.
Following these tips now can prevent you from needing toe fungus treatment in the future.
When Toenail Fungus Treatment is Necessary
If your problem persists despite at-home intervention, there are oral, topical and laser treatments available as well as surgery as a last resort. All treatment options have pros and cons that can be discussed with the patient. However before treatment, the podiatrist should do a biopsy and culture of the nail in order to identify the infection properly. At that point, the doctor can recommend the best approach to treating your fungus.