Yellow, thick, crumbly toenails are the tell-tale sign of foot fungus. This unsightly condition is quite common, but it can really hurt a person’s self-confidence. Worse yet, people who develop these infections tend to get them again and again. Understanding the top causes for fungal infections of the toenail can help you take preventative measures to protect yourself.
Cause #1: Demographic Risk Factors
Discovery Health reports that there are some causes of fungal nail infections that you may have no control over. For example, men are more likely to contract nail fungus than women. Also, people over 60 years old are more likely to have fungal nails. According to WebMD, ingrown or injured toenails are more likely to become infected. Also, people with a condition called onycholysis — where the nail separates from the skin — can give fungus enough room to hide.
Medical News Today cites a long list of risk factors, including: poor blood circulation, slow-growing nails, people who perspire a lot or work in a moist environment, and diabetic or AIDS patients.
Genetics play a role, too. “A study of French families with toenail fungus revealed that when one spouse had the fungus, the other spouse didn’t catch it after 18 to 60 years of living, showering and sleeping together,” according to the LA Times. That same study also found that half of the couple’s kids went on to develop toenail fungus — which indicates a genetic link.
Cause #2: Contact With Dermatophytes
Simply being in the risk pool is not enough to get fungal infections of the toenail. You must also be exposed to a certain type of fungus. Some dermatophytes grow on the skin, hair and nails naturally — and never pose a problem, as they cannot penetrate the skin. However, others — like Trichophyton rubrum — can feast on keratin protein and eventually invade the body through a tiny cut, blister, or an exposed nail bed.
Cause #3: Lifestyle That Promotes Fungal Infections of the Toenail
There are several conditions that promote fungal infections. One is to be too liberal with your feet — to have them out in the open when you’re in the locker room, at the community pool or water park, in a hotel shower, or on the beach boardwalk. Wearing sandals, shower shoes, water shoes, or flip-flops is a much better decision when you’re out in public.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, keeping your feet cooped up all the time can promote fungal growth as well. “Wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and don’t absorb perspiration” is a risk factor for toenail fungus, says the Mayo Clinic.
In addition to choosing the right kind of footwear, we recommend sanitizing your shoes daily with SteriShoe®. Having sanitary shoes means that there is less sweat, dead skin cells, and bacteria rubbing up against your feet. In other words, your feet will not be stuck in “petri dishes” all day — and that’s a good thing!