Toenail fungus is America’s dirty little secret. It is estimated that 35 million people suffer from it, but only a fraction of those infected actually seek treatment. Many people just hide their feet inside shoes or paint over their nails with polish. These keratin-loving dermatophytes are picked up in hotel showers, foot spas, locker rooms, and swimming pools.
The Problem with Toenail Fungus…
One thing is for certain: you do NOT want to get stuck with this awful condition. Insurance companies consider nail fungus to be a “cosmetic” issue since it doesn’t typically cause pain or disability, so many of the newer treatments like laser removal are not covered. Other treatments like oral pills and topical creams have limited success rates. The fungus is quick to spread from the big toe to the smaller toes, but takes from six months to a year or even longer for a healthy nail to grow in to replace the fungus nail.
10 Tips for Dealing with Toenail Fungus:
1. Treat athlete’s foot immediately. Toenail fungus is an unfortunate complication associated with athlete’s foot fungus. Though the exact fungal species differs, the raw, cracked skin, and blisters caused by athlete’s foot opens the body up to infection from other types of fungi — like the one that causes toenail fungus. So, not surprisingly, many people have both conditions concurrently.
2. Get a pair of shower shoes. Shoes designed especially for water wear are handy if you’re on vacation using a hotel shower, in the locker room at your gym, lounging around a swimming pool, or getting changed at the beach. The last thing you want is for your bare foot to touch a surface in a public space where germs and pathogens are easily transferred.
3. Talk to a podiatrist before the fungus gets out of hand. Toenail fungus does not simply “go away.” You need treatment. Often, the fungus takes hold in a small spot on the big toe. Sometimes a simple topical lacquer, like Penlac, can quickly stop the fungus dead in its tracks. If left unattended, the fungus usually spreads to other toenails, making it more difficult and expensive to treat. In the worst cases, the nail separates from the nail bed, turns black, and falls off. There’s no covering that with polish!
4. Ask your nail salon how they sanitize their tools. Ideally, you want the salon to use an autoclave to sanitize their tools. Autoclaves use high-pressured steam for sanitization. They are used in dentistry, veterinary practices, tattoo parlors, and bio labs.
5. Don’t believe the hype. There is a lot of snake oil peddled as alleged cures for toenail fungus. A Philadelphia podiatrist found a solution that claimed to attack fungus with grape-seed extract, but it turned out to be nothing more than water, xanthan gum, and fragrance — for $23.99! She noted another bottle called ProClear, which is basically an antifungal for athlete’s foot. “It’s too large of a molecule to penetrate the nail, so again this is garbage,” she explained.
6. Consider laser therapy, but only if you can afford it. Laser toenail fungus removal isn’t worth going broke over. While published studies indicate cure rates as high as 100%, it costs $1,000 or more for one session. Depending on the severity of the fungus, you may need more than one session. If you think you’ve found a good deal for inexpensive laser treatment, do your research: it may be too good to be true.
7. Attack the fungus on multiple levels. Even if you are taking an oral medication for toenail fungus, it doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a little antifungal powder in your shoes or apply an antifungal cream to the nails daily. Since efficacy is so poor, it is wise to redouble your efforts.
8. Blitz your stuff. Wash all socks, towels, bath mats, and bed sheets in hot water and bleach. Scrub your tub and any surfaces you may have placed your foot upon. Fungal spores can be insidious, and re-infection rates are high.
9. Have patience. The blood vessels in the toenails are very tiny and they are located very far from your heart, so it takes a very long time for a new, healthy toenail to grow back in — even with treatment. Brace yourself for a wait time of six months to a year, or even two years. You’ll know your treatment is working when you see a clear line dividing the thick, yellow nail from a healthy, unaffected nail growing in.
10. If you have been infected in the past, get a shoe sanitizer. Why bother going through treatment only to put your feet back into contaminated shoes? The SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer is a podiatrist-recommended product that kills fungi, bacteria and viruses using a 45-minute cycle of ultraviolet light. We have over 50,000 satisfied customers.
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