Toenail fungus causes are no laughing matter and nothing to be taken lightly! The fact is that about 12% of the population in developed countries is afflicted with some degree of toenail fungal infection, and 25% of all adults over the age of 40 will be infected with nail fungus at some point. It gets worse with age, with people over 60 having a 50% chance of getting a fungal infection on their toenails. So what causes the toenail fungus that affects so many people? And how can toenail fungus causes be prevented and eradicated?
A fungal toenail infection might begin merely as a white or yellow spot beneath one of your nails. This means that the fungus has begun to grow and colonize. In time, the fungal infection on your nails develops, and the appearance of your feet will become unsightly, with scaly skin and hideous-looking yellow nails that are cracked and brittle. While regarded as an embarrassing aesthetic problem that can harm one’s self-confidence, it is also possible for the infection to compromise the sufferer’s immune system, making him or her more susceptible to disease or less capable of recovering from an illness.
Toenail Fungus Causes
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and if you understand beforehand the cause of toenail fungus then you can take measures to prevent yourself from becoming infected. The basic cause of nail fungus is the over-exposure of your feet to a wet or humid environment. Wearing sweaty socks a lot is a prime cause of toenail fungus, for instance. However, it is also possible to become infected by someone else. You would be most susceptible to this happening if you were to go swimming in a pool that is open to other people, get a shower in a publicly available place such as the YMCA, or use a public sauna. It would also be possible for you to get a toenail fungus infection from someone else whom you live with and share the bathroom with, but presumably you would already know that they are infected, whereas you may have no idea about someone who is in a public setting.
While this exposure to sweat and humidity is the basic cause of the fungal infection, and while you can get infected by others, keep in mind, too, that some other factors do increase your risk of getting a toenail fungus. Being an athlete is one of those risk factors, for your feet are sweating constantly, and if you get athlete’s foot your odds of contracting a toenail fungus go up significantly. If you already have the fungus on one toe, having it spread to your other nails becomes much, much more likely. And, as alluded to above, once you are a senior citizen your risk factors for this ugly fungal infection go up significantly.
How to Protect Yourself against the Causes of Toenail Fungus
With the above toenail fungus causes in mind, we can look at some preventive measures to take so that you lower your risk of being a victim of this hideous infection.
- Wear rubber sandals whenever you use public facilities such as locker rooms, gymnasiums, or showers. Wear these sandals on your feet when you are out of the water at a public pool, too.
- After every time you immerse your feet in water such as when you get a shower or go swimming, or get them wet from things like outdoor rain puddles, dry them off very thoroughly. Never go around in wet socks.
- Keep your toenails well groomed and short so that the fungal environment is little present. A reputable pedicure salon can help you with this.
- If you are physically active a lot, use preventive fungal sprays on your socks and shoes, and change socks frequently.
- Do not pick your toenail skin or hangnails, for this could break the skin and let in fungal elements.
- Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. Loss of physical health is a major reason why senior citizens are more susceptible to toenail infections than younger people are.
If you see any signs of a toenail fungal infection starting, go to your doctor immediately. Once you are already infected and the fungus starts growing and spreading, the process of treating your toenail fungal infection is long and arduous, taking months and perhaps years to complete. To make matters even more complicated, there is no certainty about any of the treatment methods. The home-based remedies, such as applying Lavender oil, are proven to have very, very little chance of success. Commercially available topical medications may work, but they may not. The same uncertainty goes for laser treatment. And finally, the pharmaceuticals that many infected people must ultimately turn to come with the usual assortment of unwanted side effects.
Knowing toenail fungus causes and then doing all that you can to protect yourself against exposure to the cause of toenail fungus infections is really the best thing you can do about it. If you have already been affected, then you should consider very carefully which treatments have the best odds of success for you.