How to Prevent and Treat Fungal Nail Infections

How to Prevent and Treat Fungal Nail Infections

Prevent and Treat Fungal Nail InfectionsFungal toenail infections (Onychomycosis) are a common concern, often arising after toenail trauma or injury. At MelbournePodiatry Clinic, our team frequently treats this condition, which involves the invasion of the nail plate by fungi known as dermatophytes. If left unchecked, these infections can spread to nearby toenails and even affect family members in shared environments like showers and socks.

Initial signs of infection might include white markings or discolouration on the toenail, accompanied by thickening or a change in texture. It's not uncommon for fungal skin infections, such as tinea pedis, to occur concurrently, presenting as interdigital maceration and itchiness.

Here are our top four tips for preventing fungal nail infections:

  1. Sterile Medical Pedicures: Regular visits to a podiatrist for nail and skin care, including medical pedicures, can significantly reduce the risk of fungal nail infections. Podiatrists adhere to strict sterilization protocols, minimizing the chance of contamination. Unlike other establishments, such as nail salons, where tools and polishes may carry fungal spores, podiatry clinics prioritize infection control.
  2. Foot Protection in Shared Environments: Fungi thrive in warm, moist areas like public showers and swimming pools. Wearing protective footwear in these spaces can prevent fungal exposure and subsequent infection.
  3. Proper Sock Hygiene: Fungal spores can linger in warm environments, including socks and bathroom mats. Using antifungal laundry wash, like Canestan, alongside regular detergent can help eliminate these spores, reducing the risk of infection.
  4. Care When Managing Injuries or Trauma to Toenails: Fungal infections often occur following damage to a toenail. If you experience any trauma or injury to your toenail, be sure to seek prompt care from a podiatrist to minimise the risk of infection.

Treatment for fungal nail infections varies based on severity and may include:

  • Oral Antifungal Medication: For moderate to severe infections involving multiple nails, oral antifungal tablets can directly target the fungus, promoting the growth of healthy, uninfected nails.
  • Over-the-Counter Pharmacy Products: Creams and nail applications available at pharmacies can be effective for mild to moderate infections. When used alongside routine podiatry appointments, these products help penetrate the nail plate, fostering a healthy environment for new nail growth.
  • Home Remedies: Complementary to pharmacy products, home remedies can create an inhospitable environment for fungal growth, aiding in the elimination of existing infections.
  • Ongoing Podiatry Care: Regular nail care by a podiatrist, including burring of the nail, enhances the efficacy of topical antifungal treatments, facilitating better absorption.

If you suspect a fungal infection, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment!