Top Tips for Preventing Toenail Fungus [and Athlete’s Foot, Too!]

Apr 21, 2021

Nobody enjoys having toenail fungus or athlete’s foot. Not only can both conditions be unsightly whenever you bare your feet to the world, but they can often be painful or uncomfortable, too.

If you have either form of fungal infection, starting treatment now will help clear them up faster – which means you’ll be more open to the things you love to do sooner. Our advanced Lunula Laser Treatment has been effective for many of our patients, but new, clear nail still needs to grow out to replace what has been ravaged by the fungus. That takes time.

Time to Prevent is Time Better Spent

A much better and easier route is to prevent fungal nails or athlete’s foot from happening in the first place (or, if you have already gone through either experience, reducing your chances of it happening again).

While you can’t guarantee a fungal infection will never happen, you can take simple steps to shift the odds ever more in your favor – and help you keep such problems from interfering with your plans!

Here are some tips for preventing fungal toenails and athlete’s foot. And any time you have concerns about skin and nail conditions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll be happy to help!

close up of toenail fungus

Protect Your Feet in Fungal Environments

Fungal toenail infections and athlete’s foot are caused by the same types of fungus, and they love an environment with four things:

  • Moisture
  • Warmth
  • Not too much light
  • Lots of bare feet to hitch a ride on

This makes places like gyms, locker rooms, public showers, and public pools higher-risk environments to catch fungal infections. If you frequent any of these places, protective footwear can be your best friend.

Aqua socks and water shoes are excellent choices, as each tends to fully encompass the foot. If you don’t have or don’t prefer those, shower shoes and even flip-flops are better than nothing. Just remember they will leave your feet more exposed in places. 

Keep Moisture Away from Your Feet

We’ve already described several fungi-friendly environments, but there’s another much closer to home: inside your shoes.

In fact, if you could only take preventative steps in public areas or with your own socks and shoes, we would recommend the latter (but still do both!).

The more you keep excess moisture away from your feet, the better. This can include:

  • Wearing socks that wick moisture away from the feet. Excellent material choices include natural Merino wool and many synthetic blends, such as polyester. Going 100% cotton is a poor choice, as that fabric tends to heavily retain moisture.
  • Switching your socks through the day. Some of us work hot jobs or are just naturally inclined to having sweaty feet. If that’s you, switch into a clean pair of socks halfway through the day. Not only will your feet stay drier, but you’ll stay more comfortable.
  • Wearing breathable footwear. Shoes that are light and well-ventilated are best, when reasonable. Try to avoid vinyl or rubber.
  • Alternating shoes. After a day wearing shoes, try to give at least 24 hours of “air out” time to let them dry. You can also choose to use a boot dryer, if you wish.

Clean Your Feet Regularly

Keeping your feet clean is a good way to reduce your chances for many potential troubles, fungal toenails and athlete’s foot certainly included.

Wash your feet at least once per day with soap and water (this does not simply mean standing in the shower and letting the water run down over your toes). 

After your feet are cleaned, make sure to dry them well, too – especially between your toes. It can be easy for excess moisture to build up in those crevasses. 

Keep Your Clippers Contained

Although they may appear and feel like different conditions, it is possible for the fungus of your athlete’s foot to spread into a nail infection, and vice versa. The best way to prevent such a thing from happening – as well as reduce the spread of other organisms the body – is to be mindful of your equipment.

Toenail clippers should only be used on your toenails. Using them on your fingernails as well can unwittingly spread fungus between your hands and feet. Similarly, using your fingernail clippers on your toenails can have the same effect. 

As a general rule, it’s a good call to wash your hands before and after touching any abnormality on your feet, whether that’s a fungal infection, warts, or breaks in the skin. You should also occasionally wash your nail clippers while you’re at it. Soak them in rubbing alcohol for about 30 minutes and let them fully air dry.

Keeping Fungus from Being Among Us

As we noted earlier, while you can easily reduce your chances of getting toenail fungus or athlete’s foot, the world just doesn’t work in a way that makes the odds totally 0%. 

You might still receive a fungal infection despite your best efforts, and please don’t feel ashamed if you do. We’ll always be happy to help you achieve clear skin and nails again – and the sooner we can start, the less challenging it tends to be to get you there!

Call our Roselle Park office at (908) 687-5757 or our Princeton office at (609) 924-8333 to schedule an appointment with us. You can also reach us electronically by filling out our online contact form and a member of our staff will respond to you during standard office hours.

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