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Protect Your Feet In Public
You can lock down your home against fungus rather easily, but the world is another matter. Fungus thrives in warm, damp, moist environments, and there are plenty of them out there with a lot of foot traffic.
If you are going to high risk areas such as gyms, locker rooms, and public pools, you need to keep your feet protected. A pair of sandals oreven bettershower shoes will provide a good amount of cover in the worst of it.
Of course, wash your feet well after your time in a shower room or pool, and make sure they are fully dry before you put socks and shoes back on.
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Foot Infections Spread Within Families
Researchers say more than 35 million people are affected by toenail fungus, which causes the affected toenails to become discolored, brittle, thickened, and flaky.
The infection is known as tinea pedis, and is caused by a group of tiny organisms called dermatophytes — the same fungus responsible for athlete’s foot. That common foot infection causes a rash on the skin of the foot and affects 10% of the population.
Researchers studied 57 families in which at least one member had toenail fungus and/or athlete’s foot. Of these families, 19 had at least two members who were infected.
Using a combination of microbiology and DNA matching techniques, researchers were able to confirm that identical infection-causing dermatophytes were present in 42% of affected family members.
Researchers say matching the DNA of the same dermatophytes among members of the same household clearly indicates each family member had the identical strain of dermatophyte, which confirms that the infection was transmitted from one family member to the other, either directly or indirectly.
Questionnaires completed by the participants showed the likelihood of the spread of the foot infection within a household was tied to the strain of fungus and whether anyone in the family had nail discoloration or scaling of the skin on the side of the foot and/or a past history of toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.
Is It Fungus Or Melanoma
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that can develop on the nail bed. It has a dark brown or black color and can be mistaken for toenail fungus or another toenail problem like a bruise. Melanoma is much less common than toenail fungus, but it can be life-threatening if not caught early.
Both toenail fungus and melanoma can appear as a dark stripe on the toenail and may increase in size over time. The toenail can become split and damaged in both conditions.
Toenail fungus is more likely to cause thickening of the toenail and a buildup of material underneath it. Melanoma causes the skin of the nailbed to change color, which does not happen with toenail fungus, but it can be difficult to see.
Because melanoma can be very aggressive, its important to have your doctor examine a darkened toenail. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis of toenail fungus by looking at clippings under a microscope and of melanoma by taking a biopsy.
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How To Prevent Infections Or Reinfections
Fungus grows in warm, moist, dark environments, so the tight, dark, sweaty confines of your shoe present a perfect setting for fungus to flourish. In order to fight infection, you must work to keep your feet dry and away from any spores.
Here are some tips to avoid getting infected or having the infection get worse.
Prevention And Treatment Of Toenail Fungus
Once its taken hold, toenail fungus can be hard to kick. Here are some techniques for the prevention and treatment of toenail fungus.
Anyone who enjoys wearing open-toed sandals in the summer knows how good it feels to have healthy-looking toenails. But good looks arent the only reason to keep your toenails in top shape. Fungal infections of the toenails also known as onychomycosis don’t go away on their own, and if left untreated, the fungus will spread and can eventually destroy the nail.
If you have comprised blood flow, theres even more reason to safeguard your toenails, since youll have trouble healing, says Ami Sheth, a doctor of podiatric medicine in Los Gatos, California, and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association. And once you have a wound, you can get fungal skin infections, which can lead to a subsequent bacterial infection if the skin breaks down, notes Dr. Sheth.
However, because toenail fungal infections are typically painless, people are often unaware that they have a problem unless they are inspecting their feet regularly.
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The Danger Of Waiting To Treat The Fungus
The greatest danger of not treating the foot or toenail fungus is that it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the hands and groin.
If for some reason you cant treat your toenails or your feet right away, at least use an antifungal topical cream on the surrounding skin, Dr. Ng says. That will help keep it from spreading and keep the skin intact.
Top Prevention Strategies For Toenail Fungus
For these reasons it’s important to take the necessary precautions to prevent a fungal nail infection. These recommendations will also help reduce the chance of spreading the infection to your other toenails and other people and is best practice when you get toenail fungus treatment.
Don’t use the same nail trimmer or file on healthy nails and infected ones .
Keep your toenails short. When your toenails get long and start to hit the top of your shoe, the nail bed is more likely to lift and letting in fungus.
Wear socks made of wicking material to draw moisture from the skin (an excellent sock is the Copper Anti-bacterial Antifungal Low Cut Socks these are wicking and anti-microbial. If you’re a hiker a sock liner from Fox River will keep the moisture away from your feet. Avoid wearing cotton.
Change your socks when they are damp from sweat or your feet get wet.
Wear clean, dry socks every day and apply over-the-counter antifungal powder inside socks to keep feet dry.
Wear shoes with good support and a wide toe area .
Avoid walking barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms .
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What Causes Toenail Fungus
It is very unlikely that a few exposures to an unclean environment will cause a fungal infection. Walking barefoot once or twice in a public shower will not generally spread the infection. Similarly, it is also unlikely that a single visit to a pedicurist will cause the infection. Lengthy exposure to a contaminated environment is often required in order to contract the fungal infection although individuals may be more susceptible to fungal infections than others.
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When Should I See My Doctor About A Rash
Most rashes are not serious. But its always a good idea to see your healthcare provider if you have skin changes. Your provider can recommend a course of treatment to help you feel better and diagnose any underlying conditions.
- Is all over your body.
- Starts suddenly and spreads quickly.
- Is painful, blistered or infected.
- Happens along with a fever.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Fungal skin rashes can be uncomfortable and itchy, but they are treatable. See your healthcare provider if you notice any rashes or changes in your skin. Typically, a course of antifungal creams will clear up the rash and relieve the itchiness. Your healthcare provider can also discuss preventive steps to keep the rash from coming back.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/25/2020.
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Treatment Options For Fungal Nail
Treatment options, some of which can be prescribed by your GP and the others found at your local pharmacy, include:
Antifungal nail creams or paints
These are applied directly to the nail over several months and are most effective when used at the early stages of the infection. They arent generally considered to be as effective as tablets because it can be difficult for the product to reach the deep layers of the nail. Some people choose them over tablets because side effects are less common. These are available over the counter.
A paste is applied to soften the infected area. This is then covered with a plaster for 24 hours. The next day, the paste is washed off and the softened nail gently scraped away.
This process has to be repeated every day for two to three weeks. When no more of the infected nail can be removed, an antifungal paint is applied to prevent re-infection as the nail grows over the next few months. These kits are available from your pharmacist.
These are only available on prescription and need to be taken for several months, before the infection has completely cleared up. Some tablets are unsuitable for people taking certain medicines, and some people may experience side effects. Always see your doctor or pharmacist for advice about medicines.
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Experiencing Nail Fungus In Its Early Stages
Fungal nail infections are becoming a common nail problem, especially if you frequent public bathrooms, gym, saunas, or spas. People often dismiss nail fungus because it generally does not give any discomfort and the first signs are often hard to detect. Brown or black spots and white streaks may signify an infection in your nail. It may later on progress to more evident changes wherein the nail thickens or have a rougher surface. Although not bothersome, leaving a fungal nail infection untreated can make it harder and more frustrating to cure in the end.Total dystrophic onychomycosis, or severe nail fungal infections, is the end-stage of this nail disease. Fungus has started to infect larger portions of the nail causing it to become deformed, brittle, and weak. More often than not, it starts to become painful and even emit some type of foul odor. There is increased possibility for permanent damage to the nail. The infection may also spread to other parts of your body and create more serious illnesses.
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When To See Your Doctor About Nail Infections
A mild case of onychomycosis may not be bothersome or require treatment. But as the condition worsens, you may experience:
- Thickened nails
- Discoloration, often yellow-brown or whitish coloring
- Change in nail texture, such as brittle or crumbling nails
- Change in the shape of your nailbed
- Odor ranging from mild to foul
If you notice any of these symptoms, you can try remedies such as:
- Over-the-counter products: Several antifungals are available without a prescription. File your nails then soak them in warm water. Dry the nail thoroughly before applying the medicated creams or ointments.
- Nail grooming: Keeping your nails trimmed can reduce pain and pressure from debris and nail buildup.
If the condition worsens, reach out to your primary care doctor or a dermatologist. To diagnose nail fungus, your doctor likely will take a sample of debris, nail or surrounding skin and send it to a laboratory.
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How To Prevent Toenail Fungus From Spreading To Family
- Firstly, I would recommend not sharing nail clippers or scissors with them. This is because these are the types of items that are most likely to become contaminated by dermatophytes and therefore could cause you to contract the fungus.
- Secondly, If you are around them, try not to touch their fingers or toes with your hands or mouth . This is because it may be possible to contract the fungus if you do so.
- Thirdly, avoid using their towels and bathrobes as much as possible. If you do use them, ensure that you wash them thoroughly before use.
If nail fungus does spread to family members then there are several treatment options available
- You can treat it yourself by filing away the affected nails and applying an anti-fungal cream on a regular basis.
- You could seek assistance from your doctor, who may prescribe you an oral antifungal medication .
- If this is not sufficient then you might need to see a dermatologist or a podiatrist. In this case, they may administer a procedure such as a laser treatment or nail surgery.
- In some situations, family members with nail fungus may be quarantined from household contact by wearing gloves on their hands and plastic bags over their feet when they are around the house.
- Even though it is possible for you to catch nail fungus from a family member, it is usually not very easy to do so.
Nail fungus is not a life-threatening condition and can easily be treated with some anti-fungal medication or procedures.
How Contagious Is Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is a contagious fungal skin infection that can be spread directly or indirectly. It is most commonly spread in warm, moist environments. These locations typically include public swimming pools, communal showers, gyms, and locker rooms. To help prevent obtaining a fungal infection, it may be beneficial to wear appropriate footwear when you are in these locations. Some symptoms of this condition may include discoloration of the affected toenail, thickening of the toenail, and in more severe cases, the toenail may become brittle and begin to break off. In order to safely treat a toenail fungal infection, its suggested that you consult with a podiatrist for professional care and advice.
If left untreated, toenail fungus may spread to other toenails, skin, or even fingernails. If you suspect you have toenail fungus it is important to seek treatment right away. For more information about treatment, contact Dr. Manx D. Quayle of Aurora Foot and Ankle Surgical Specialists. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.
- Buildup of bits and pieces of nail fragments under the nail
- Brittle, broken, thickened nail
If self-care strategies and over-the-counter medications does not help your fungus, your podiatrist may give you a prescription drug instead. Even if you find relief from your toenail fungus symptoms, you may experience a repeat infection in the future.
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