Tips for Keeping Toenail Fungus from Returning
Toenail fungus is a tough foe to battle. The sooner it’s found out, the easier it tends to be to treat. Unfortunately, most cases are not discovered until the fungus has had a good opportunity to entrench itself in your toenail.
Treatment has likely taken months, but you’ve reached that light at the end of the tunnel. The fungus has been declared eradicated and you’re already growing new, clear toenails to replace the war-torn battlefields that once were. Well done!
Unfortunately, it can come back.
A fungal toenail infection is not like a cold. Having had it doesn’t really mean your immune system is fully geared up to keep the same case from returning. And, like a cold, there is more than one type of nasty organism out there that can cause similar symptoms—in this case, discolored, crumbling, thickened nails.
You know how bad it is. The last thing you want is to fight that battle over again, and people with diabetes should be especially careful of any type of infection. You also don’t want anyone you live with to have to go through it, either!
So what can you do to prevent toenail fungus from coming back? Quite a lot.
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Disinfect Your Shoes
Whatever shoes you wore while having toenail fungus may still contain traces of it. Certain types of fungus can be quite hardy and remain around for some time, increasing the risk of re-infection.
This does not necessarily mean you have to throw your shoes out. If they are old and starting to fall apart, we recommend doing so. You need new shoes, anyway.
If your shoes are still pretty new, however, you can disinfect them instead. If you wish, you could invest in an ultraviolet shoe sanitizer. These use UV rays to provide a very rate of sterilization (up to 99.9%) within your shoes. They also do a good job of reducing odor and drying out moisture. It usually takes about 15 minutes to get the job done.
If you don’t want to give your shoes a light show, there are always antifungal sprays and powders. Make sure you are not just using a deodorizing product. That will likely do nothing against the fungus. It must also disinfect. Make sure you get the toe boxes of your shoes liberally with whatever product you use.
Also, when it comes to shoes, always keep one thing in mind: never, ever, wear someone else’s shoes or have someone use yours. You don’t know what they’ve got on their feet, and you don’t want to spread anything to someone who might be more susceptible to an infection.
Wear Breezy Socks
Sweat is the enemy when it comes to fungus. It makes a home, such as your shoes, much more hospitable to them.
Socks that are breathable and keep moisture from collecting around your feet are optimal. Great materials for this purpose are: Merino wool, polyester, Olefin fiber, and Drymax. Try to keep away from cotton. It’s reliable, but not the best at keeping moisture away.
Keep Clippers to Yourself
If you have been using a certain pair of clippers on your toes, you will very much want to disinfect or replace those as well. How best to do this?
- Let the clippers soak in boiling water for a few minutes.
- After removing them (don’t burn yourself!), scrub with dish soap and an old toothbrush to clean off any remaining dead skin cells or residues.
- Rise, then wipe down the clippers with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol.
- Completely dry the clippers with a paper towel to avoid rusting.
You can also use Barbicide if you happen to have it around.
Now that you have a clean pair of toenail clippers, make sure to use them only on your toenails. They should be the larger kind designed for toenails, too. Sharing clippers runs another risk of fungal infection, and using the same pair of clippers on your fingernails and toenails can run the risk of transferring an infection from your feet to your hands, or vice versa.
Protect Your Feet in Public
You can lock down your home against fungus rather easily, but the world is another matter. Fungus thrives in warm, damp, moist environments, and there are plenty of them out there with a lot of foot traffic.
If you are going to high risk areas such as gyms, locker rooms, and public pools, you need to keep your feet protected. A pair of sandals or—even better—shower shoes will provide a good amount of cover in the worst of it.
(And no, we don’t really expect you to wear shower shoes in the pool, but they can be useful around it.)
Of course, wash your feet well after your time in a shower room or pool, and make sure they are fully dry before you put socks and shoes back on.
What if it Does Happen Again?
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a fungal infection can return. The good news is, you likely know what to look for in your nails by now, and catching it early will most likely mean a much easier and shorter treatment time than your first go.
Our treatments, including Lunula laser therapy, are ready for you when needed. We will be perfectly happy if we never have to use them for you again, however.
If you ever have any questions or suspicions regarding a potential fungal nail infection, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Call our Princeton office at (609) 924-8333 or our Roselle Park office at (908) 687-5757. You also can consult our free downloadable guide on fungal nails for some more tips!