What are Fungal Nails and How to Prevent Them?

Along with ingrown toenails, fungal nail infections are extremely common. Although infections can also affect the hands, people are much more likely to develop a fungal nail infection on their toes.

Fungal nail infections are certainly unpleasant but in the vast majority of instances, they are nothing to worry about and they can be treated with over the counter medications. In today’s blog, we’re going to explore what a fungal nail infection actually is. And crucially we’re going to look at strategies to prevent infections.


What are fungal nail infections

As the name suggests, a fungal nail infection is a yeast infection that affects the nails. The infection causes the nails to become discoloured, usually turning various shades of yellow, brown or white. The nails can also become thick and uncomfortable. The nail itself will eventually crack and become fragile.
Fungal infections are caused by yeast in the environment. When there is a cut or an opening around a person’s nail, yeast can enter causing the infection. As the toes are inside the shoe e.g. a dark and moist environment, infections are more likely to develop on toenails rather than on fingernails. The medical term for a fungal nail infection is “onychomycosis.”


How to Prevent Fungal Nail Infections

In general, fungal nail infections are more likely to occur if feet are warm and damp for long periods of time. Therefore trainers and runners that are moist and warm can cause infections. It’s important to keep your feet – along with your shoes – clean and dry.
Some of the other ways to prevent a fungal nail infection include:

- Immediately treating athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is a type of fungal nail infection that can spread to the foot if not addressed
- Keep your hands and feet dry and clean
- Change your socks every day
- When in changing rooms wear flip-flops

Some of the things to avoid include:
- Wearing shoes that make your feet feel sweaty and warm
- Sharing towels
- Wearing another person’s shoes
- Sharing nail clippers

As stated, in most cases a fungal nail infection is nothing to worry about. A few simple preventive steps should help stop infections from occurring. Even if you develop a fungal nail, they are usually treatable with pharmacy bought creams. For more information on fungal nails see our fungal nail page.


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