Onychomycosis refers to the fungal infection of one or more nails, usually the toenails. While the condition may not be a major threat to your health, fungal nails can be painful, inconvenient, and embarrassing. Fortunately, onychomycosis is relatively easy to treat, and a few simple steps can prevent it from coming back in the future.
Signs that you may have a fungal nail infection include a thickening of the nail, yellow-brown discolouration or darkening of the nail, or distortion of the shape. If the infection is allowed to progress, the nail may become brittle and easily broken, and in some cases can be accompanied by a slight smell.
Certain people will be more likely to develop a fungal nail infection based on their lifestyle. Anyone with a pre-existing nail condition, such as psoriasis, is more vulnerable to infection, as are those with immunodeficiency issues, or circulation problems. Older people are also more vulnerable in general, due to their weaker immune system and circulation.
Although more advanced cases of fungal nails may require prescription medication, most cases can be treated with over-the-counter products, such as medicated cream or antifungal nail polish. The truth is, the best approach you can take to tackle fungal nails is prevention, and as onychomycosis is a fungal condition, the best way to prevent it is with good hygiene.
The first step in maintaining good hygiene is to wash, of course. And while most people do was their feet, not everyone devotes much time and attention to them. If fungal nails are a problem for you, be sure to wash your feet thoroughly in every shower, rather than just leaving it to the running water. You should also wear breathable shoes and sweat absorbing socks, as both of these steps will make it harder for a fungal infection to take hold and grow. You can also keep your nails moisturised, and make sure to trim them in a horizontal, not curved, manner. While a slight U shape might appear natural, clipping your nails into a curve makes it more likely that you will get an ingrown toenail, which could lead to infection.
A fungal nail can be quite painful and inconvenient, especially if you are an active person. But as annoying as they may be, they are not too concerning to your overall health. Following the home remedies above should be enough to treat most cases of fungal nails, with the option of going to a doctor always there for more advanced cases. But prevention is always a better option than treatment, so be sure to follow the hygiene tips laid out above, and you may not even need to treat them again in future.