It’s strip time, woman. After another long, cold winter, there’s nothing more freeing than shedding your clothes. Time to get pool ready, slather on the sunscreen and then ugh, it happens. That’s when you notice with horror that your feet are, well, not looking so hot.
What you’ve got is more than a pedicure can fix, and it may make you want to put those Mukluks, or even those sweaty socks, right back on your feet.
Toenail fungus infections, scientifically known as onychomycosis, are a year-round reality for 2.4 million Canadians, and in summer, hiding the problem is not easy. So if you spot someone wearing socks at the beach or around a pool, the mystery may be solved.
Understandably, many sufferers feel embarrassed by the state of their nails especially during summer when bare feet are everywhere. In fact, in a recent Leger Marketing survey, 80% of Canadians revealed that having nice looking toes is important to them and 85% agree that toenail fungus infections are a “turn-off.” Nail fungus can cause so much stress that sufferers consider giving up activities they love, such as yoga or swimming, anything that bares the feet, just so others won’t see.
Now, we can’t have our toes affecting our sex lives, can we?
What is a toenail fungus infection?
A common, treatable yet contagious condition, a fungus infection, aka onychomycosis, is estimated to account for up to 50% of all nail problems. Onychomycosis is progressive and will not go away on its own. Proper detection, diagnosis and early treatment can, however, increase your chances of clearing up the problem and preventing long-term damage to the nail.
Toenail fungus infections can be the result of the same type of fungi that cause such conditions as athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm. These fungi like warm, moist environments and so it makes sense that public areas like gym locker rooms, shower rooms and swimming pools are common areas of exposure.
These infections occur more often in feet than hands, probably due to the warm moist environment created by wearing socks and shoes and the fact that we don’t wash our feet as often as we do our hands. The feet also have less blood circulation, making it harder for your immune system to fight off the fungi your feet are exposed to.
What to do about a toenail fungus infection
First of all, be careful when you’re out and about. Oh, and when you’re told to wear flip flops in the locker room or to use only sterilized nail care instruments at a salon, don’t shrug off the advice. As much as we love shedding it all, the fact is, going barefoot in public places or sharing nail care instruments are some of the common ways to become infected.
Remember that this problem is common, and that there is help online. One of the best Canadian information resources on the condition is a website that has been developed by the dermatologists of Skin Care Guide. The website www.nailfungus.ca is full of smart information about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of nail fungus infections.
Check out the guide to familiarize yourself with the options for topical treatments, oral treatments, and physical and light treatments. And definitely book an appointment to see your doctor if you suspect you may have the condition. The earlier you’re treated, the better for everyone.