5 Ways to Keep Your Toenails Healthy and Fungus-Free

Feb 08, 2023
5 Ways to Keep Your Toenails Healthy and Fungus-Free
Toenail fungus can cause a painful infection and permanent damage to your nails. Learn five tips for preventing fungal infections, so your nails will stay healthy and look great.

You may not pay as much attention to your toenails in the winter months when your toes are covered by warm socks as you might in the summertime. This inattention can increase your risk for toenail fungus.

At Foot and Ankle Specialists in Memorial City, The Woodlands, and Huntsville, Texas, our experienced podiatrists diagnose and treat toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, and other types of fungal infections. We also specialize in preventive services to keep your feet and nails healthy and fungus-free, so you can avoid ongoing complications.

Why you have toenail fungus

Fungal organisms known as dermatophytes thrive in moist, warm environments like public showers and the sidewalks around public swimming pools. They can also survive in damp spaces like sweaty socks and shoes.

When you walk barefoot in these places or share contaminated shoes with someone else, dermatophytes can enter your body through small cuts or cracks in your skin. The fungus feeds off dead nail cells and can quickly spread to multiple nails.

As a result of a fungal infection, your toenails may appear:

  • Thick
  • Crumbly
  • Brittle
  • Discolored

You might also notice your nail is separating from the bed of your toe and releasing a foul-smelling odor. When left untreated, a fungal infection in your toenails can become painful and cause permanent damage to your nails.

5 strategies to prevent fungal toenails

There are several lifestyle changes you can make now to prevent fungal infections in your toenails later. Our podiatric specialists recommend you:

1.Wear shoes in public

If you frequent a public pool or locker room, invest in a pair of water-safe shower shoes so you can avoid going barefoot in public areas.

After each use, be sure to wash your shoes off with clean water and soap and let them dry completely before storing them in your locker or gym bag.

2. Change out of damp shoes right away

When your shoes and socks get wet from the rain or a puddle on the street, change them out for dry ones right away. Make sure all wet fabrics dry completely before wearing them again.

The same is true if you tend to sweat a lot. Carry a spare pair of shoes and socks when you’re away from home to lower your risk for fungal infections in your feet and toenails.

3. Opt for breathable fabrics

There are many options available for shoes and socks that are made with breathable materials. Choose lightweight materials like canvas or leather, so more air circulates around your feet and toes.

4. Select the right shoe size

The fit of your shoe matters as much as the material it’s made from. Select shoes that fit well, not crowding your toes or touching any part of your toenails. 

Shoes that are too tight can irritate your nails and make them more susceptible to fungal infections.

5. Practice good toenail hygiene

Before cutting your toenails, sanitize your clippers with alcohol. Trim your nail straight across and use a file to address any sharp edges. Never share clippers, scissors, or other nail-trimming instruments with others to prevent unwanted infections.

We also offer complete toenail care services to prevent complications that can permanently damage your nails.

Call the Foot and Ankle Specialists office near you to schedule an evaluation for symptoms of toenail fungus or book an appointment online today.