One of the advantages of living in Southern California is being able to walk barefoot in the sand year-round. But if you have toenail fungus, you may want to hide your feet.
And the problem isn’t just cosmetic: If you have toenail fungus, you may suffer from itchiness, pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Some people get such bad fungal infections that they need to take prescription medications.
Jeffrey Kleis, DPM, is a leader in the laser treatment of toenail fungus, but he would rather help you prevent the condition in the first place. Stop toenail fungus before it starts by following these seven tips.
1. Keep your toenails short
Long nails give sock lint, dead skin, and other debris a place to breed fungus. If you keep your toenails short, you make it harder for fungus to find a warm, moist place to grow. Cutting your nails also helps prevent injuries that give fungus places to grow and spread.
For the best results, cut your toenails straight across instead of on a curve.
2. Change your socks at least once a day
Wet socks create the perfect environment for toenail fungus to grow quickly. By changing your socks at least once per day, you can protect your feet by removing the moist, warm environment that the fungus loves.
In some cases, you may need to change your socks more than once a day. If you go to the gym, for instance, the sweat dampens your socks. Change into a clean pair of socks after exercising.
You should also change your socks whenever they get wet. The sooner you change into dry socks, the better your feet can protect themselves from fungus.
3. Always wear shoes in public
Never go barefoot in public, especially if you plan to visit a pool, shower, or restroom. These places are breeding grounds for fungus and bacteria that can hurt your toes and feet.
When you’re in the public, wear shoes or, at the very least, flip-flops or sandals to create a barrier between your feet and the floor. If your feet get wet, dry them as soon as possible.
4. Use your own nail files and clippers
Fungus and bacteria can live on nail files and clippers. If you share these items with someone who has toenail fungus, you risk getting the fungus, too. Nail files and clippers only cost a few dollars. Buy your own so you can keep your toes healthy and avoid toenail fungus.
5. Choose shoes made of breathable material
Some shoes trap the sweat that accumulates on your feet throughout the day. If your shoes don’t let your feet breathe, the wet, warm area provides a perfect breeding ground for toenail fungus to grow.
When you shop for shoes, look for breathable materials like mesh and knit fabrics. Avoid shoes made of plastic and other synthetics when possible. Those materials make it harder to keep your feet dry.
6. Alternate shoes throughout the week
No matter what your shoes are made of, they can still trap moisture. If you wear the same pair of shoes every day, the shoes accumulate moisture.
You can avoid this problem by alternating between two or three pairs of shoes throughout the week. If possible, you shouldn’t wear the same pair on consecutive days. The more time you can give your shoes to air out and dry, the more protection you give your toes from fungus.
7. Stop early symptoms with fungal powders or sprays
The early symptoms of toenail fungus include:
- Odd odors
- Thick nails
- Warped shapes
- Brittle or ragged nails
If you spot any of these symptoms, start using an anti-fungal powder or spray immediately to kill the fungus. It may take a few weeks, though, before you kill the toenail fungus completely.
If you already have toenail fungus that doesn’t respond to home treatments, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kleis by calling or by requesting an appointment through this website.