Dr Zoe discusses best treatments for toenail infections
As the weather starts to improve in the spring, many of us adapt our lifestyles to accommodate the warmer weather. However, this can expose us to certain infections. An expert spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to explain more.
GP and advisor to foot care specialists Excilor, Doctor Gill Jenkins, warned that we could become more prone to nail infections.
She said: “Fungal nail infections are incredibly common. Research by Excilor – who provide a range of medicated foot care products – estimates that as many as 21 percent of the British population suffer from a nail infection at any one time, with 49 percent of those that suffer not aware they have an infection.
“As spring gets underway our risk increases still further as we tend to walk barefoot in places where fungal infection can spread easily such as swimming pools, gyms and communal showers.
“Increasing age, poor immune function and generally not looking after our feet are also common risk factors.”
A fungal nail infection can damage the nail and cause pain in the feet, she warned.
Common signs to look out for include discolouration and hardening of the nails.
Dr Jenkins said: “Common signs of a fungal nail infection are discolouration and hardening, thickening, even flaking and crumbling, of the nail in question. The foot can be painful too.
“If not addressed these infections can lead to further complications such as permanent loss of the nail, a resurgence of the infection and even, in extreme cases a spread of infection to other areas of the body, or even the bloodstream in people who are frail or immune suppressed.”
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Reduce your risk
Luckily there are ways to lower your chances of getting a fungal nail infection.
She advised: “Steps you can take to lower your risk of fungal nail infections include keeping nails clean and trimming them regularly.
“Once a month give your nails a break from polish for a few days to a week to help boost their health. Avoid wearing fake nails.
“Instead of going barefoot, wear flip-flops in communal areas like the swimming pool or sauna.
“For overall foot health, avoid wearing shoes that make your feet sweat and regularly put your trainers through a machine wash then allow to dry fully.
“Don’t share towels, footwear, even nail clippers with other people. Wash your feet daily and dry thoroughly including between your toes.
“Wear fresh socks every day, made from at least 70 percent cotton so your feet can breathe and swap heels for supportive trainers or shoes and avoid any tight or pinching footwear.”
It is best to treat nail infections as soon as you can to prevent further damage.
“A fungal nail infection needs to be treated fast if further nail complications are to be avoided,” Dr Jenkins added.
“Ask your pharmacist about the various treatment options which don’t need a prescription, including creams and nail treatment.
“All anti-fungal nail products will take at least a month for the nail to regrow and start to look healthy.
“If your nails don’t improve after several months, there are tablet treatments but they don’t suit everyone and also take some time to work and you’ll need a prescription from your doctor, who will also want to consider or even test your immune health.”
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