One doesn’t typically give much thought to their nails unless they are planning to polish them or something goes wrong. And, when something does go wrong, it goes really wrong. It can be embarrassing, especially in the warmer months with the potential for flip flops and sandals.
So, what is nail fungus, and how do you get rid of it?
What Is a Fungal Nail Infection?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) marks fungal nail infection --also known as onychomycosis -- is a common kind of infection. More than 3 million cases are diagnosed a year, so don’t feel like you’re alone when it comes to having a fungal nail infection.
It can show up both on your fingers and toes, though it is more common to get it on your toenails.
1. What Causes Fungal Nail Infections?
Fungal nail infections can have a wide variety of causes. The most common is a fungus known as a dermatophyte, though yeast and mold can also cause the infection.
It is most common in those who are older and have nails that are already cracked and brittle. These cracks allow for bacteria and fungus to come in and cause an infection.
Having diabetes, bad blood circulation and a weak immune system are all factors that can increase your risk of having a fungal nail infection.
2. How Does a Fungal Infection Look Like?
A fungal nail infection has some distinct symptoms to look for. It usually starts with a white or yellow spot under the nail that expands. The nail begins to become thick and fragile, breaking easily. Depending on how severe the infection is, according to Mayo Clinic, debris can collect under the nail, and it can start to smell.
3. How to Stop a Fungal Nail Infection
As with most things, it’s easier to prevent an infection than to treat it. Fungal nail infections are difficult to get it rid of once they’ve started. With the help of topical cream, it can take about a year to treat a fungal infection fully.
You’ll know it is fully healed once you see a regular, healthy nail coming in from the nail bed.
4. Can You Prevent a Fungal Infection?
Luckily, there’s a lot of things you can do to prevent nail infections. One of the best ways is to keep your feet and hands dry and clean. Dampness from water or sweat can be a breeding ground for fungus.
Try to keep from stepping on public surfaces barefoot, like locker rooms and other areas. While you won’t get a fungus infection just from hanging out with someone who has it, you can catch it if your feet touch a place where their feet were.
Don’t share shoes, socks, and nail clippers with others. If they have an infection, they’ll likely pass it to you.
One of the best ways to keep yourself from getting an infection is allowing your feet and hands to breath. Wear shoes that aren’t too tight and let your hands breath if you have to wear gloves for an extended period of time.
5. Natural Treatments for Fungal Infections
The quickest way to get rid of fungal infections is oral tablets. However, if you want something more natural based and/or topical, there’s a lot to choose from. Luckily, unless the infection is very severe, you will not feel any pain or notice any other symptom besides the way it looks. You should only be really worried if you have a compromised immune system or other prior condition.
There are a few ingredients to look for when looking for a fungal nail eliminator. Antifungal essential oils are a great place to start when treating nail fungus. Those include but aren’t limited to tea tree oil, lavender oil, jasmine oil, lemongrass, peppermint, and eucalyptus are just a handful of antifungal essential oils.
Look for ingredients like tolnaftate, which is known to help kill fungus and treats conditions like athlete’s foot.
Using anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger, rosemary, and seaberry can help to soothe skin infected with fungus and can help to keep the surrounding skin healthy. Treating healthy skin with these essential oils can help keep the infection from starting or can keep it from spreading.
Best Foot Care Products for Fungal Infections
When it comes to foot care products, there’s a lot to choose from. Gold Mountain Beauty offers some foot care products that can help keep your nails and skin healthy.
Their Fungal Nail Eliminator has tolnaftate and tea tree oil to help keep fungus at bay and has seaberry to soothe inflamed skin. Their Intensive Repair Serum helps heal cracked skin, eliminating the chance for bacteria to go into those cracks. Their Tea Tree Essential Oil Foot Soak contains a vast array of essential oil that can keep your feet healthy.
You have options when it comes to fungal infections. It might take a while, but you can treat and keep your feet in a healthy condition.