If you have toenail fungus, you know the frustration and embarrassment that comes with it. You don’t want to wear sandals or head to the pool or the beach, in case someone sees your toenails in their awful state. And you may also find that your toes don’t smell too great these days. It’s time to banish that gross toenail fungus. Here’s what you need to know.
Do you have toenail fungus?
Before you start in with treatment options, you had better know what you’re dealing with. So check out a list of toenail fungus symptoms and see whether any of the ones listed sound familiar to you.
When it first appears, toenail fungus will manifest as a white or yellow spot. It will usually be near the tip of the nail. And, if you look closely, you’ll see that it’s not actually on the nail — it’s under it.
Experts say that you don’t necessarily need to treat toenail fungus when it’s in this early stage. There’s a chance that it will go away on its own, and you may find that it’s no big deal to live with. Still, you may want to tackle it; over time, your toenail fungus issue could become much more annoying.
As toenail fungus progresses, you may notice that your nails are thicker than before, and that a yellow or brown color is overtaking the entire nail. Your nails may start looking distorted: wide or strangely angled in places. Your nails may also become brittle and begin to crumble. You may notice a bit of a nasty odor coming from them, too.
Getting rid of toenail fungus
Do you think that you have toenail fungus? If so, you will probably want to do something about it.
Fortunately, toenail fungus can be relatively easy to get rid of (though, unfortunately, not always). Some over-the-counter treatments are available, plus more than a few home remedies with varying degrees of efficacy. Experts say that Vic’s VapoRub and Listerine mouthwash are among the things that you can apply to your toes in the hopes of killing off that nasty fungus.
The home remedies won’t always work, though, and that’s when it’s time to see a doctor. “There’s nothing wrong with over-the-counter solutions, but they’re no substitute for a visit to the podiatrist,” explains Clifton podiatrist Dr. Velimir Petkov. “If you wait too long, the fungus may reach the nail matrix and therefore permanently damage the way the nails grow out,” says Dr. Petkov. A podiatrist will be able to help you tackle tricky cases of toenail fungus that are resisting the over-the-counter and home remedy options you’ve tried. Plus, consulting with a podiatrist will give you a chance to verify your self-diagnosis and make sure that you don’t have any other nasty issues to worry about with your feet.
Preventing toenail fungus
Whether you’ve had it before or not, you’d probably rather avoid getting toenail fungus in the future. So how can you do that?
Some risk factors, such as being older and prone to sweating, aren’t things that you can control. But there are other things that you can do to reduce your risk of suffering from toenail fungus. Wash your feet regularly and trim your nails (cut them straight across and file them down afterwards with a nail file or emery board). Wear breathable footwear, and protect your feet when you’re in places like gyms and pool locker rooms (fungus loves these sorts of spots). Keep an eye out for symptoms and treat foot fungus early if you want to avoid more serious cases. If you take care (and if you get a bit lucky), you may be able to avoid foot fungus entirely.