Is There a Fungus Among Us? Care of the Feet and Nails

Is There a Fungus Among Us? Care of the Feet and Nails

The warm weather is here, and feet that have been hidden by shoes all winter are suddenly exposed by sandals and going barefoot.  But what if the condition of your nails or feet has become embarrassing?

Toenail fungus (onychomycosis) has yellow, thickened nails that can become loosened from the nailbed.  They can become brittle and break off easily.  Nails that are affected by fungus are not necessarily painful.  If fungus is also involved on the skin of the feet, it is usually seen as scaling between the toes, or any surface, and may also exhibit as cracking of the skin called fissures.  Itching and burning can be a common complaint.

Risks:  Fungal infections are more prominent in warm, humid environments.  Persons who wear heavy boots may also experience a fungal infection due to the infection thriving in the warmth of the boots and moist socks.  People with diabetes are more susceptible.  Public showers and nail salons may also harbor the infection and place you at risk.

Prevention: starts with care of the environment and the feet.  When choosing a nail salon, look for salons with reputations of cleaning the pedicure water basin thoroughly between clients, and sterilization of the tools used on the nails.  For public showers or swimming pools, wear sandals while walking on the wet surfaces.

Care of the feet at home includes washing the feet, then dry them carefully, including the spaces between the toes.  At home, if one family member has a fungal foot infection, use a bleach solution to clean the tub between uses, if possible.  If you wear boots at work, change boots to a different pair daily so that they dry out when not used, and wear cotton socks which are more absorbent.

Treatment: there are over-the-counter foot sprays, creams and products to treat most mild cases of fungal infections.  Follow the package instructions.  For resistant or severe cases, talk to your healthcare provider to see if you are a candidate for taking the oral medication for the infection.  These medications can be expensive and have some risks, such as liver irritation, so it’s important to discuss options for treatment for optimal results.  Most home remedies are ineffective.

Unfortunately, many cases of fungal infections recur.  Knowing your risks and taking steps to avoid it is key.

**At times, women who get pedicures may have a white scaling that appears only on the nail surface, and is not associated with thickening or brittleness.  Sometimes this is due to low quality base coats and nail polishes used by salons.  This can usually be gently scrubbed off or filed off.  The next step is to find a salon that offers you a higher quality of service to prevent unsightly nails

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