Many people suffer from fungal nail infections. These infections can be quite painful and can also result in ugly, thickened nails. While there are ways to help clear up a fungal nail infection, it can require prolonged treatment (often several weeks) to be effective.
Who is most likely to get a fungal infection?
As many as 8% of people will experience a fungal nail infection at least once in their lives. This is more likely to happen with toenails than with fingernails. It's also more likely among those who use public showers, such as athletes, swimmers and people who work out in gyms.
Additionally, people 55 years or older are also more likely to get a nail fungal infection.
8 ways you might get a fungal nail infection:
- It sometimes starts as a fungal infection of the skin. For instance, you might have athlete's foot around your toes which can easily spread to your toenails if left untreated.
- Fungal infection of your fingernails can occur if you happen to scratch an already infected and itchy toenail.
- Fingernail infections are more common among those who wash their hands or immerse them in water many times a day, such as a cleaner or someone working in a kitchen. This is because the frequent washing can damage the skin at the base of your fingernails, allowing fungi to enter.
- Broken or damaged nails are more prone to infection.
- People with compromised immune systems, psoriasis, and bad circulation (or anyone whose health is generally poor) have a greater likelihood of developing fungal infections in their nails.
- If you live in a particularly hot and humid region, you're also more likely to develop fungal nail infections than someone who lives in a drier climate.
- Smokers have an increased risk of fungal nail infections.
- Sometimes, there is no apparent cause for an infection. Fungi spores are very common in the environment so an infection can easily occur with no other reason.
The best ways to help prevent a fungal nail infection:
- Wear thongs in public “wet” places such as swimming baths, public showers etc.
- Always ensure your feet are dried properly and if you live in a hot or humid region, try your best to keep your feet dry and cool. Avoid sharing a towel to dry feet.
- Don’t share nail clippers and make sure if you have an infection you cut the infected nail with different clippers from your other nails to stop the spread.
- Keep your nails short.
- Try and avoid injuries or damage to your nails. If you are cleaning, wear rubber gloves to protect the delicate skin around your fingernails.
- Treat any skin infections like athlete’s foot as quickly as possible to stop it spreading.
- Consider replacing old footwear if you are getting recurrent nail infections, the footwear may contain fungal spores.