Onychomycosis, also called nail fungus, is a common infection that can affect your toenails. It's reported to affect between 2% and 13% of the population of North America, so this fungus is widespread. If you get this infection, your nails could become thickened, crumbly or sore, and they may even separate from your nail beds, so it's best to avoid getting it in the first place. Here are three ways to avoid getting onychomycosis.
Wear sandals in public places
You may think that warts are the only thing you can pick up at the public pool or at the gym, but you can get onychomycosis there, too. Anytime you're in a communal area, make sure to wear a pair of sandals or other protective footwear.
These communal areas are prime areas for fungal transmission because they're high-traffic areas and the floors tend to be wet. These wet floors provide a great environment for fungus to grow, and when you step on the floor with your bare feet, you can contract the fungus.
Don't share nail clippers
You may think nothing of sharing your nail clippers with a friend or family member, but these tools can spread fungus. This is because the fungal spores that lead to onychomycosis can live on a pair of nail clippers for months. Nail clippers need to be sanitized with materials like rubbing alcohol or bleach if they're going to be shared between family members, though ideally, each member of your family should have their own pair.
This applies outside of the home, as well. If you go to a nail salon for a pedicure, make sure that the salon adequately sanitizes their clippers and other tools so that you don't pick up nail fungus. A reputable salon will explain their hygiene practises.
Keep your feet dry
Fungus likes to grow in moist environments, so to prevent onychomycosis from taking hold of your toenails, make sure to keep your feet dry. After a workout, make sure to take off your sweaty socks, and if possible, wash your feet. You should also let your shoes dry out fully before you wear them again. If you workout a lot, or if you live in a warm, humid area, you may need to alternate your shoes to give them adequate time to dry out.
If you suffer from excessively sweaty feet and have trouble keeping your feet dry, consider using an antiperspirant on the soles of your feet. You should also carry extra pairs of socks with you so that you don't need to continue wearing socks that are soaked with sweat.
Onychomycosis is common, but that doesn't mean it's inevitable. As long as you take precautions, you can protect your toenails from this infection. If you develop this infection despite your best efforts to avoid it, go to a medical clinic (such as Summit View Clinic) for treatment.