Nail thickening and yellow discoloration are a couple of the signs. Also known as onychomycosis, nail fungus includes those symptoms, as well as may make your nail brittle, cracked, and misshapen.
Anyone can get a toenail fungus infection, but older adults and individuals who have diabetes, a weakened immune system, or blood circulation issues are at greater risk. The infection can start from athlete’s foot and then cracks in the nail allow the germs a way in to cause infection. Although toenail fungus can spread from one nail to other nails, according to the Mayo Clinic, it’s unusual to get it from someone else.
Keep in mind that fungus thrives in warm, moist conditions. To avoid getting nail fungus, take precautions such as:
- Keep your hands and feet clean and dry.
- Trim your fingernails and toenails so they’re short and straight across. After cutting your nails, use a file to smooth edges and any thickened areas.
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks.
- Do not walk barefoot in pool areas, public showers, or locker rooms.
- Make sure your nail salon uses sterilized tools and hygienic methods. Visit the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology’s website (barbercosmo.ca.gov) for information about proper procedures a safe salon should be following.
For more tips on how to prevent a nail fungus infection, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) website at www.cdc.ca.gov.
According to the CDC, antifungal nail infections can be difficult to cure. They’re generally treated with prescription medication, and in the most severe cases, the nail may need to be removed.
If your nail infection starts to look worse—for example, increasingly discolored, cracked, or thickened—see a podiatrist. Be sure to check their license by visiting the Board of Podiatric Medicine’s (BPM’s) website at www.bpm.ca.gov.
If you have diabetes and have nail fungus, see your health care provider immediately. When you’re diabetic, you have a higher risk for bacterial skin infection; even a minor injury to your feet—including toenail fungus—can lead to a more serious condition. BPM’s publication “Diabetics: Keep an Eye on Your Feet” has more information on risk factors and tips for protecting your feet. Be sure to check your doctor’s license by visiting the Medical Board of California’s website at www.mbc.ca.gov or at the Osteopathic Medical Board of California’s website at www.ombc.ca.gov.