Summertime Is Prime Time for Fungal Toenail Infections
Summer’s not over yet!
Although the kids will be back in school very shortly—in some places, they already are—we should still have plenty more glorious, gorgeous days and nights left in 2019 before winter returns for good.
While you’re busy making the most of the time you have left, we certainly hope you won’t forget to take a few extra precautions on behalf of your toenails. Summer time, unfortunately, is also prime time when it comes to fungal toenail infections.
What Is a Fungal Toenail Infection?
Some of you can skip this section, but for those of you who have never had fungal nails and aren’t really sure what they are, we’ll provide a quick review course.
The infection itself is caused a type of fungi known as dermatophytes. These fungi get their nutrition by digesting keratin, a protein that is found abundantly in human nails, skin, and hair. The same exact fungi that cause fungal nails also cause athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other common fungal skin infections.
Out of these infections, fungal toenails are generally considered the worst—or at least the most frustrating. That’s because, once under the nail, the fungi are much more difficult to treat with topical medications than a surface skin infection.
The most common symptoms include significant discoloration (usually yellowish or grayish), thickened nails, brittle or crumbly nails, and even significant warping or distortion in the nail plate.
What Does Summer Have to Do with It?
Technically, you can get a fungal toenail infection at any part of the year. But summer is when we tend to see the number of cases spike, for a couple of important reasons:
The warmer weather is generally when you want to kick off your shoes, and maybe even your sandals, for some summer fun down at the pool or the beach.
But here’s the problem:
The fungi that cause fungal toenails like to hide out on warm, wet surfaces—and they can even spread through indirect contact. Public areas like locker rooms, gyms, pools, and showers are prime candidates for harboring this troublesome fungus.
As a result, you’ll want to make sure there is always something between your foot and the ground when out in public locations—even if it’s just a flip flop or water shoe.
Unfortunately, encasing your feet in heavy shoes and socks isn’t necessarily the best solution either.
That’s because your shoes themselves can become a very attractive location for fungi to move into, especially during the hottest days of the year. If you’re prone to sweating a lot—and therefore spend a lot of time in damp shoes—your risk of developing fungal nails shoots way up.
There are a couple of ways you can help lower your risk here:
- Choose socks and shoes made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics
- Change socks and shoes when they become damp
- Own multiple pairs of “everyday” shoes and rotate them daily so they can dry out thoroughly before you wear a given pair again
In order to get under the toenail, the fungi need a way in.
Unfortunately, they sometimes find one even if you don’t do anything wrong. Tiny, even microscopic cuts and gaps can develop along the toe or between the nail and the nail bed—smaller than you can see or feel, but big enough for fungi to get in.
But you can also make the opening a lot bigger by stubbing a toe, cutting the nails too short, or developing an ingrown toenail. And those kinds of injuries tend to be more common in summer, when you’re out running or playing sports. (Especially if your shoes don’t fit you properly.)
To protect yourself as best you can, make sure you’re always wearing appropriate shoes with good wiggle room for the toes, and keep your nails neatly trimmed. However, do not cut them too short, or round the corners.
Going and getting your nails done is, of course, a summer tradition loved by many. Who doesn’t love a nice manicure? Especially if you want to show those toes off with a fresh coat of stylish polish!
While we don’t want to harsh your mellow, we do want to make sure you understand how important it is to make sure your spa of choice is fully licensed, up to code, and practicing the highest possible standards of sanitation and cleanliness.
Fungi can hang around in foot baths and jet piping, and on tools that aren’t properly sterilized between guests. Furthermore, nail techs can put you at risk if they cut back your toenails too short. One more thing: polishes (even clear) can make it more difficult for toenails to “breathe,” trapping moisture inside.
In addition to carefully vetting your salon, it’s also a good idea to try scheduling your appointment as early in the day as possible, when the risk of cross-contamination is lowest.
Pick Up an Infection? We’ll Clear It Up for You
Unfortunately, even despite your best efforts, you might still wind up with a fungal nail infection.
Even more unfortunately, fungal nails won’t go away on their own. They’ll only get larger, unsightlier, and more embarrassing until you get them treated.
But we do have good news. Fungal nail treatment has come a long way in just the last few years, and at Wilks Advanced Foot Care we are one of the first clinics in the country using a revolutionary new treatment option: controlled micro-penetration.
See, one of the things that used to make treating fungal nails so difficult was the inability of topical medications to get underneath the nail. Instead, doctors were forced to prescribe oral antifungals (which had spotty success rates and could come with nasty infections.)
But our computer-controlled system produces tiny holes in the nail plate, allowing medications to reach the nail bed and attack the fungi directly.
It’s a pretty amazing piece of tech, and the results we’ve seen so far have been nothing short of fantastic. We even wrote a short e-book about it, so if you’d like to learn more you should definitely consider downloading a free copy today!
You can also request more information—or schedule an appointment—by completing our online contact form, or calling our Roseburg office directly at (541) 673-0742.
Now get out there and enjoy the rest of your (hopefully) fungus-free summer!