There ARE ways you can reduce your risk. Not everyone has the same susceptibility. What is yours? What is your history?
If you answer yes, you probably need to take extra precautions.
Some circumstances are unavoidable and unchangeable. These include:
- Susceptibility to fungal infection (which is not yet well understood) or a history of fungal infections.
- Impaired immune system (caused by certain diseases, such as AIDS, diabetes, or cancer, or certain immunosuppressive drugs, such as corticosteroids).
- Poor blood circulation (caused by disease or increasing age).
- Age. People older than 60 are more likely to have a fungal nail infection.
- Being male. (Ladies, for once gender is on your side)
Risk factors you can change:
- Wearing tight shoes.
- Wearing shoes that make your feet warm and sweaty.
- Wearing the same pair of moist shoes for 2 days in a row (and not letting your shoes dry out).
- Sharing personal items such as shoes, socks, nail clippers, or nail files with other people.
- Living in a hot, humid climate. (Didn’t you want to move anyway?)
- Using public or shared showers or locker rooms without shower sandals or shower shoes.
- Injuring the nail (as in the case of frequent nail trimming).
- Having athlete’s foot. For more information see the topic Athlete’s Foot.
- Having a job in which your hands or feet are often wet (such as dishwashers or lifeguards).
- Wearing artificial nails. An infection can develop in the gap between the artificial nail and the real nail, especially if a loose nail is glued back on without first being cleaned with rubbing alcohol. Nail manicure and certain nail products can damage the nail or cuticle, making the nail more susceptible to infection.
Instances of nail fungus are rising at an alarming rate. All fungal skin and nail conditions are tough to get rid of. Unless you persevere, once you get rid of one, if you relax, it may very well come back.
Once your fungal infection has been successfully treated, take the following steps to prevent the infection from recurring:
- Before bed, thoroughly wash and dry your feet or hands.
- Keep your feet and hands dry. Dry skin and nails are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your dry feet or hands after you take a shower or bath.
- Wear dry cotton socks and change them 2 or 3 times a day if necessary.
- Wear dry shoes that allow air to circulate around your feet. Avoid tight, enclosed shoes. Injury to the tips of the toes because of tight shoes may be the biggest single factor that leads to a fungal nail infection returning.
- Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when using a public pool or shower; allow them to dry between uses.
- Don’t share shoes, socks, nail clippers, or nail files with others.
- Avoid injuring your nail. Cutting nails too short is a common cause of nail injury. If you decide to get artificial nails or have a manicure, go to a salon that uses sterile instruments. Nail manicure and certain nail products can damage the nail or cuticle, making the nail more susceptible to infection.
- Control chronic conditions such as diabetes.
- Stop smoking.
Do not ignore any fungal infection on skin or nails. The longer they incubate and go untreated, the more difficult they are to cure.