7 Healthy Habits to Prevent (or Destroy) Toenail Fungus
-by Amanda Roberts (with some additional suggestions and tips from Tera) 😉
Toenail fungus is an often-diagnosed fungal infection, being also known as “onychomycosis.” (Trying saying that 10 times fast, or use the word to name your kid’s unidentified dinosaurs!) In the majority of the situations, the fungal microorganism responsible for the infection is the same as the one causing athlete’s foot. Both conditions can be prevented by assuming a number of health habits. Proper hygiene is, as you will have the opportunity to read below, one of the easiest methods of keeping these infections at a safe distance so you never get it!
Too late, you say? Well, keep on reading because we’ve got everything you need to prevent toe fungus from every happening, or destroy it FAST if it’s already too late for prevention!
Spotting and treating the symptoms of toe fungus:
If you have noticed the appearance of the following symptoms that are characteristic of athlete’s foot, it’s important to seek and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Symptoms of athlete’s foot or toe fungus:
- stinging or burning sensation at the level of the toes
- red, itchy patches of skin near, on or around the feet (for me it started as a little red patch of skin on my calf, then moved down and invaded further because I thought it was just “something I could get rid of.”)
It can be easy to ignore initial symptoms of athlete’s foot or toe fungus as little temporary “bumps or bruises” that will just go away, but it’s super important to get toe and foot fungus addressed as quickly as possible, because it is a persistent little invader, and the more time it has to settle in, the worse it gets!
Left untreated, the fungal infection will spread to the toenails. If that happens, you’ll notice some of the following symptoms of athlete’s foot or toe fungus start to take place on the nails:
- Thickened texture and toe nail density
- Whitish to yellow-brown discoloration of the nails
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged nails.
- Distorted shape and warped texture
- A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
- Slightly foul smelling odour from the nails and feet
Once you know you’ve got it, and you can always get it diagnosed by a qualified health care practitioner, then you’ve got to take action fast and apply these seven healthy habits to avoid (or destroy) foot fungus fast and prevent re-infection from happening.
#1. Avoid cutting your cuticles. It can spread toe fungus!
According to an informative brochure developed by the British Association of Dermatologists, there are a number of self-care measures that one can take, in order to prevent the appearance of toenail fungus.
It is recommended to take good care of your nails, keeping them short, dry and clean. If a nail has become infected, you should use a toenail clipper only for that nail and another one for the rest of the healthy nails. In this way, you will prevent the spreading of the infection.
But, one thing is certain, no matter how tempting it may seem, once you’ve got signs of fungal infection on your skin or feet, you’ve got to refrain from cutting your cuticles! This only exposes the toenails to the fungus, increasing the risk for infection and further damage. But that doesn’t mean you should shortchange yourself on appropriate foot hygiene, and here’s what you should to to prevent catching or spreading athlete’s foot and toe fungus.
#2. Maintain excellent personal foot hygiene to stop the spread of athlete’s foot!
You need to change both your socks and your footwear on a daily basis, even several times per day if you are prone to excess sweating. What matters is that the feet stay dry, so you might want to consider wearing socks made from fabrics that can absorb excess sweat.
Breathable shoes are highly recommended and, during the warm season, you should switch to sandals and get as much sun as possible on those toes! Foot fungus cringes and dies with exposure to sun! Breathable shoes allow the skin to breathe and keep fungal infections at a safe distance.
You can also rotate your shoes, in order to guarantee that these are 100% before being used.
#3. How your footwear can prevent the spread of fungal infection.
With regard to footwear, the recommendation is to avoid wearing shoes that are too tight. These have a constrictive effect on the toes, not to mention they cause increased sweating – both of these factors favour the development of fungal infections. You might also avoid shoes with high heels, as these can lead to damage at the level of the toenails as well (especially if the front part of the shoe is too narrow).
Often times, fungal infections are caused by the prolonged wearing of the same pair of shoes. Given such matters, one of the easiest methods of preventing the appearance of toenail fungus is to throw away your worn-out shoes. Over time, the inside of the shoe begins to deteriorate, creating the perfect environment for the fungus to thrive in.
#4. Shock and kill your toe fungus with these laundry tricks.
As with old and mouldy shoes, if your socks are worn out or made with cheap fabrics that make your feet sweat more, then throw them out. It’s cheaper to get good socks than to spend years fighting toe nails, or to have infection spread to more of your toes!
When it comes to laundry, it is recommended to wash your socks with really hot water, as this will prevent the thriving of the fungal microorganisms. But one of the things that fungal spores hate most, are drastic temperature changes. So here’s a crazy laundry trick that will literally destroy your foot fungus in clothing FAST!
- First, wash your socks, or sheets and laundry which have been exposed to the fungus in hot water.
- Then if you have the space, stick your laundry in a bag and freeze it for a few hours!
- Then, pull it out of the freezer, and let it defrost enough, that you can put it in the dryer at really high heat.
POW! You’ve literally tortured and destroyed so much of your foot fungus, it will be a clean treat for your fungus-fighting feet when you put those socks and clean sheets back on!!
There is also an anti-fungal spray that you can use on socks, before throwing them in the washing machine. However, sometimes, it is far better to throw away worn-out socks and wear new ones, and do what you can to avoid toxic sprays or medications whenever possible.
#5. Be street smart about feet in public.
When going to a public swimming pool or using the shower at the gym, it is recommended to use flip-flops or shower shoes. If you go barefoot, the risk of getting a fungal infection is considerably higher. You might also want to refrain from sharing objects of personal hygiene, such as towels, as these can easily harbour fungal microorganisms and transmit them.
#6. Try different ways to prevent and treat toenail fungus
As we are informed in a scientific article published in Foot Notes, two of the easiest ways of preventing toenail fungus are keeping your feet dry at all times and avoiding trauma at the level of the nail bed. Apart from these, you should also consider the recommendations presented below.
- Always dry your feet thoroughly after washing, as a moist environment allows the fungal infection to thrive and develop.
- If you are prone to excess sweating, you can use special powders to absorb the extra moisture. These are either applied on the feet or inside the shoes; some of them have anti-fungal properties as well.
- Dilute some apple cider vinegar in warm water and soak your feet in the mixture, at the end of the day. This will prevent not only fungal infections but also bacterial ones.
- Place cotton balls that were previously soaked in tea tree oil inside your shoes and leave them overnight. This will prevent the development of the fungi inside the shoes.
- Reduce acidity in your diet. Acidic conditions are part of how fungal infections can take over. They reduce your immunity and acidity builds up and accumulates at the bottom of your body–your toes! By doing a juice cleanse and getting yourself on a healthy, whole food diet rich in leafy green vegetables, you can make big long term improvements to your overall health and your toes will thank you, too!
- Mix apricot/sunflower oil or coconut oil with tea tree oil and apply the resulting mixture at the level of the toenails. This will create a protective film and it will prevent the fungus from attacking the toenail(s). (I use this many times and repeatedly throughout the day as suggested by my herbalist and Ayurvedic practitioner, Jonathan Raymond! It’s making a big difference in helping to get a healthy toe nail moving in.)
#7. Strengthening your immune system is also recommended
Toenail fungus is more common in those who have a poorly-functioning immune system. According to an informative brochure developed by Capital Podiatry, strengthening one’s immune system is actually a method of preventing toenail fungus. When one has a poorly-functioning immune system, this leaves the body exposed to all sorts of infections, toenail fungus included. It is advisable to follow a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, as these contain antioxidants that can strengthen the immune system.
Prevention is better than cure.
Toenail fungus is not a serious condition but it can be very difficult to treat, causing a lot of discomfort and even pain. It is far better to prevent this condition than treat it, especially since it has a high re-occurrence rate. As you have seen, there are a number of measures that you can take, in order to prevent the toenail fungal infection. Maintain the highest standards of hygiene and grab it quickly and you will not have anything to worry about.