Nail Fungus/Athlete’s Foot

Nail Fungus

A fungal infection under the toenail is a sometimes painful and often unsightly condition that can cause the nail to separate from the nail bed.

Symptoms of toenail fungus include:

  • Yellow lines on the nail bed
  • Dead skin and flecks of nail visible through the nail
  • Yellowing or other discoloration
  • Increase in the density of the nail, which can cause it to peel up from the skin
  • Cracks on the nail or flaking
  • Pain, sensitivity, or a mild odor at the site

If you suffer from diabetes, it is especially important to seek prompt treatment of any toe infection.

Killing fungus under the nail can sometimes be more complicated than treating other fungal infections. Your podiatrist may recommend:

  • Carefully cleaning the feet each night
  • Keeping the feet dry by using powder after showering
  • Applying topical antifungal ointments to the whole foot, so that an infection on the skin will not spread to the nail
  • Oral medications that attack the infection systemically
  • For persistent or recurring problems, permanent nail removal

Once you have a healthy nail, there are effective ways to prevent nail fungus:

  • Don’t use another person’s nail trimmers, emery boards, socks or footwear
  • Avoid trimming your nails too short
  • Buy only cotton socks and change them as often as needed to keep your feet dry
  • Choose your footwear carefully, ensuring they are made of breathable material and that they are not too snug
  • Keep feet protected with sandals when entering public pool areas or showers

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection on the skin of the feet. The infection often begins between the toes, but it can spread to the toenails, soles of the feet, and elsewhere on the body if left untreated.

Also known as tinea pedis, the fungus thrives in the dark, moist environment provided by footwear, just as it flourishes in dressing rooms, pools and showers. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include dry, itchy skin that flakes or scales, especially between the toes. The skin may blister, burn and appear inflamed.

The following precautions may prevent the discomfort of athlete’s foot:

  • Wear sandals around public pools and in public showers
  • Use foot powder to control perspiration
  • Wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe
  • Change socks often to ensure your feet stay dry

Treatment involves fungicidal ointments, but the over-the-counter versions cannot always reach the infection deep under layers of skin. So for recurring or hard-to-treat athlete’s foot, your physician may prescribe topical or oral antifungal drugs.

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