Preventing and Treating Toenail Fungus

The Ultimate Guide to Summer Foot Health: Preventing and Treating Toenail Fungus

Summertime brings many joys—one of which is going barefoot. But before you kick off those socks and boots, you might want to take a closer look at your toenails. Do you have toenail fungus?

No one wants to spend their summer hiding an embarrassing (and contagious!) fungal infection that can cause discolouration and brittle nailbeds. Understanding what causes toenail fungus and the signs and symptoms of the infection can help you find the best toenail fungus treatment options this summer!

What Is Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus infections are medically referred to as onychomycosis and are more common than fungal fingernail infections. There are four types of fungal infections that affect the toenail: Distal or Lateral Subungual onychomycosis, White Superficial onychomycosis, Proximal Subungual onychomycosis, and Candidal onychomycosis. Of the four types, three are common with up to 14% of adults experiencing the condition at some point in their life.

The microorganisms causing fungal infections can be present between the layers of the nailbed. Older adults may experience this condition frequently as nailbeds are prone to becoming dry as we age, causing cracks within the nail bed. Exposure to fungus infections can increase the risk of contracting a form of onychomycosis.

Symptoms of Toenail Fungus

Both healthy and immunocompromised adults can experience fungal nail infections. Signs and symptoms can vary from person to person depending on the type of toenail fungus infection. Typically, toenail fungus causes discolouration in the nailbed, thickened nails, and brittle nails.

As the infection develops, the toenail itself may become misshaped, crumble upon touch, or become tough to cut. Discomfort, pain, and/or a foul smell may be experienced. Without proper treatment, the infection can worsen, causing the nail to deteriorate and fall off.

Types of Toenail Fungal Infections

TYPEDESCRIPTIONSYMPTOMS
Distal/Lateral SubungualMost common type. The fungus invades the nailbed under the nail.Yellowish discolouration, thickening, and crumbling of the outer edge of the nail.
White SuperficialLess common type. The fungus affects the surface of the nail.White spots, powder texture, and crumbling of the nail surface.
Proximal SubungualRare type. It’s common among people with immune system issues such as HIV.White spots develop at the centre of the nailbed before spreading outward.
CandidalCommon type. It affects the fingernails more than the toenails.White, brown, or yellow discolouration, brittle, and split nailbeds.

Why Is Summer the Prime Time for Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus is most common in people who walk around barefoot in parks, backyards, beaches, and public pool areas. It can also be contracted from unsterilized or shared equipment between friends or in professional salons during pedicures.

Summer is a time for outdoor activities. Whether you are playing contact sports, swimming, relaxing at the beach, or taking a walk, be aware of any injury or minor wound on your toes and feet. Toenail fungus infections can settle in between the nail bed and nail, within small cuts or in between the toes, and even within an ingrown nail.  

Preventing Toenail Fungus: Summer Foot Care Tips

With summer being a prime time for contracting toenail fungus, there are proactive steps you can take to ensure your toenails remain healthy and looking fresh all season long.

Proper foot hygiene is vital in the summertime more than ever as more people enjoy going barefoot. Wash and thoroughly dry your feet, especially between your toes. Keep your toenails trimmed and filed straight to prevent ingrown nails and hangnails on the toes.

Wear footwear in public places, especially at public pools, showers, and other outdoor water-related events. Only wear lightweight shoes and sneakers with moisture-wicking socks to prevent toenail fungus as it develops in dark, warm, and moist areas. Consider using antifungal powder or spray if your feet are prone to sweating. If your socks and footwear become wet, remove them, and fully dry your feet before putting on dry socks and shoes.

Treatment Options for Toenail Fungus

Treatment for toenail fungus can vary depending on the severity of the issue. One of the most common plans for nail fungus involves taking oral antifungal medication for at least three months. Topical antifungals in the forms of creams, lacquers, and ointments can be applied directly onto the toenails for mild infections. Topical and oral foot fungus treatments can also be used together.

While surgery has been a dependable last resort for severe infections, advanced medicine offers laser or photodynamic therapy. While these therapies are not cures, they can help address the issue as a temporary measure.

When to Seek Help from a Chiropodist

As fungus can be continuous and worsen without proper treatment, you should always seek professional toenail fungus treatment. A chiropodist can diagnose the type of fungus you have and offer the best treatment based on the signs and symptoms.

Toenail fungal infections can cause nail thickening, deformation, pus, redness, and pain. These infections can spread to other toenails quickly. If you have circulation problems, a weakened immune system, and/or diabetes, you should seek immediate treatment.

See an Experienced Chiropodist at Heart Lake Health Centre

If you suspect you might have toenail fungus, see a foot doctor in Brampton at Heart Lake Health Centre. Our chiropodist, Dr. Ajay Rooprai D.P.M., offers a range of foot services for pain, lesions, numbness, wounds, and mobility issues. He also specializes in foot warts, ingrown toenails, and orthotics.

We are centrally located to serve residents of Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga and most of our services are covered by OHIP. For more information, drop by our walk-in clinic today, call (905) 846-9255, or email info@heartlakemed.com.

Heart Lake Health Center

For the past 25 years, Heart Lake Health Centre has been providing trusted medical services with dedicated industry professionals. Our team is combined of doctors who specialize in family medicine, urology, physical medicine, dermatology, pediatrics, podiatry, and cardiology. At Heart Lake Health Centre, our top priority is the health of you and your family’s. You can rely on our healthcare professionals to ensure an A-grade experience.