Fungal nail infections that leave one or more of your toenails with a yellow/white discolouration, or a flaky, brittle appearance, are the cause of 50% of all diseases affecting the nails. As the nail infection progresses, your nail may also thicken, lift away from the nail bed, and make wearing certain types of shoes uncomfortable. More than the physical symptoms that a fungal nail infection produces, for many of our patients, their persistent infections leave them hiding their toes in closed shoes and socks year-round, impacting their self-esteem and confidence with their appearance.
With many pharmacy anti-fungal creams and lacquers having a poor success rate while requiring multiple daily applications, prevention is far better and easier than cure. If you’re currently battling a fungal nail infection, today our podiatry team has laid out the practical steps you can take to help stop it spreading to other members within your household, as well as sharing the one most effective treatment for fungal nails we’ve seen in our years of podiatry that is helping our patients get superior results.
Fungal Nail Infections Are Contagious
If you have nail fungus. you may be wondering where you contracted it. First thing’s first – you’re not alone. Fungal nail infections have been shown to affect up 23% of people. The reason for such a high prevalence is the ease with which fungal nail infections can spread from one person to another under the right circumstances.
Fungal nail infections spread through fungal spores. Think of these like little dandelion seeds – they can move both through the air and through direct contact when the spores are present on communal surfaces. As fungal spores are invisible to the naked eye, any shared floor or object can put you at risk – though warm, moist and dark environments are where fungus thrives. If you frequent public swimming pools, gym changing rooms, public showers, and other such areas – this may be your answer. If you then wear hot, enclosed shoes or sweaty socks, you may then be further fuelling the fungus and accelerating its spread.
Around your home, your showers, bathrooms, floors around the house, and swimming pool areas are where your family are most at risk of contracting your fungus. Your spouse is also at risk when sharing bed sheets, socks and shoes. As fungal spores can stay dormant but viable for up to three months in their favoured environments, your family may still remain vulnerable long after you’ve started covering up your feet or taking other protective measures.
How Fungal Nail Infections Start
So why did you get the fungal nail infection but your gym buddy didn’t – or why is only one nail currently infected but not the rest? A fungal nail infection starts when a spore comes in contact with your toenail and is able to invade the nail through an opening – like if your nail is injured or damaged. After the fungus takes hold, it feeds on the keratin that your nails are composed of, causing changes to the appearance and colour of the nail. The infection can also cause a mild inflammatory response which can lift the nail and trap more fungus, spores and bacteria beneath, making effective treatment even more difficult – especially if you’re only using a surface-level cream or ointment.
You are more vulnerable to an infection taking hold if you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, are older, have medical conditions like diabetes or circulatory problems or have Athlete’s foot. While this may explain why some people may start growing the infection faster than others, it can only take a stubbed toe or some slight damage to the nail from not being careful when trimming the nail or getting a pedicure to skyrocket your risk.
How To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections From Spreading
Being very frank, due to the wide and easy spread of fungal spores, it can be almost impossible to eliminate fungus from an existing environment. With this said, there are two ways to help limit the spread of fungal nail infections within your household.
One: Help avoid and actively remove spores from your environment
- Wipe down your showers, floors and high-risk surfaces with an antifungal detergent
- Hot-was your bed sheets and socks with an antifungal laundry wash like Canesten
- Wear thongs in public areas like swimming pools, showers and changing rooms
- Treat any existing Athlete’s foot infections
- Keep your toenails trimmed and remove the build-up of dead skin, dirt and bacteria from beneath your toenails
- Don’t share shoes or socks with someone who has a fungal nail infection
- Avoid nail salons that have questionable hygiene practices or don’t sterilise their instruments
Two: Don’t encourage environments where the fungus thrives
- Dry your feet well after every shower, especially between the toes
- Change your socks when they get wet
- Air your shoes overnight if wearing them for a prolonged time or they feel moist
- Wear socks that help wick moisture away from your feet
Laser: Our #1 Anti-fungal Treatment
While protecting others from your existing fungal nail infection, it’s important to actively and effectively treat your existing infection to destroy the spores and stop the spread. Traditionally, this was a time-consuming task that required multiple daily applications of an anti-fungal cream that yielded poor results – or a daily tablet that wasn’t suitable for everyone due to the side-effects. Thankfully, we now have a treatment that is proven to be effective in clearing fungal nail infections, whether they have been present for months or years. It is safe, pain-free, and has the strongest clinical evidence and scientific backing of any anti-fungal laser on the market to date:
- Topical treatments – between 5.5% and 8.5%
- Oral medications – between 14% and 55%
- Laser treatment – between 60% and 97%
These are the best results for fungal nail infections that we have seen in the last decade. On average, our patients require 4-5 sessions. We love this treatment because it’s painless, safe, sterile, doesn’t require any downtime, you can keep wearing normal shoes and clean socks after the treatment, you’re welcome to apply nail polish – and there are no repetitive daily hassles of creams or medications.
Laser treatment works by gently yet effectively heating the nail plate to destroy the living fungus and its spores. The action of the laser means that it can penetrate the entire nail, unlike topical treatments that only offer a surface coating. Once the fungus is destroyed, it cannot keep affecting and damaging the nail so it will grow out with a clearer and healthier appearance.
Ready to say goodbye to your fungal nail infection and protect your family?
Our best advice is not to waste time or money on treatments that yield poor results. If you have a fungal nail infection, our experienced podiatry team here in Tahmoor, Sydney is here to help with laser treatment. Book your appointment with us by calling (02) 8405 6850 or book online.