“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin
There is no doubt that the proverb “prevention is better than cure” applies to the circumvention or avoidance of nail fungus: a fungal condition that attacks your toenails or your fingernails. Unfortunately, it is surprisingly common in the United States of America with about 10% of Americans reported as having dealt with nail fungus at least once in their lives. Furthermore, statistics show that about 20% of people who are over 60 years old battle with the scourge, and about 50% of men and women who are over 70 years old have one or another form of nail fungus. It is also interesting to note that more men than women get it.
Nail fungus infections: Definition and causes
Before we look at ways to prevent toenail fungus (as well as fingernail fungus), let’s first take a look at a concise definition as well as a few recognisable symptoms of the condition. Ergo, it goes without saying that if you contract the disease, the sooner you start treating it, the easier it will be to halt the spread of the fungus.
Nail fungus infections are also known as Onychomycosis or Tinea Unguium. Additionally, these infections the most common diseases of the nails with the condition making up at least 50 percent of nail abnormalities. It is interesting to note that fungi are usually present on the body and they are not a problem; however, if they overgrow, these fungi can become a problem.
Fungi are microscopic organisms which live on your body, and they do not require sunlight to survive. Ergo, they are excellent at living and multiplying in dark areas such as underneath your fingernails as well as your toenails. They usually enter the skin through tiny cuts or where the nail and nail bed have separated from each other. Finally, it is important to note that they grow in a warm and moist environment; thus, the area between the nail and nail bed is an ideal environment for fungi to thrive.
Anyone can contract a fungal infection; however, people with one or more of the following symptoms are more likely to pick up a fungal infection:
- Slow growing nails.
- Genetic disposition.
- Diminished blood circulation, diabetes, a weakened immunity as a result of diseases such as HIV/aids.
- A humid or moist work environment.
- Wearing socks and shoes that prevent ventilation.
- Walking barefoot in public places that are damp such as swimming pools change rooms, gym change rooms, as well showers.
- Previous injury or infection to the skin or nail.
Preventing a fungal infection from growing
Because treating fungal infections is a time-consuming, laborious, and expensive process, it is far better to make sure that you do not contract a fungal infection in the first place. As an aside, it takes about four months for a new nail to grow from the start of a fungal infection until there are no vestiges of the disease left underneath your nail. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that you practice a very high standard of hand and foot hygiene. In this way, your body will not allow a fungal infection to grow on either your fingernails or toenails.