Preventing fungal infection of toenails
& Nail care after laser treatment
Fungal spores are a natural part of everyone’s skin flora. No matter what you do, these bugs are everywhere all the time. However, it is important for the prevention of infection (or re-infection) that you control the numbers of fungi in your environment, even if we can’t remove them all.
The main culprits that allow infection to enter the skin or nails are:
• Contaminated footwear and hosiery
• Waterlogged skin
• Defects in the shiny nail surface
• Contamination from another human
Reducing the fungi in your environment
Don’t let perspiration build up in your footwear. Sweat is very nutritious stuff as far as fungi and bacteria are concerned. It is obviously a lot easier to launder a sock than it is to effectively clean the insides of your shoes so always use some kind of stocking in closed shoes. It is also a good idea to use a disposable insole like an odour-eater than can be replaced at regular intervals.
Light and air are the natural enemies of these micro-organisms. If your shoes have a removable insole, pull it out to air at night. Expose it to the sun when you can. The more open toed, airy footwear you can adopt, the better the chances of success. Avoid using the same shoes everyday to give them time to dry and don’t stuff socks into shoes after wearing, inhibiting evaporation.
To help with preventing fungal infection of toenails, use an anti-fungal product in your shoes and on your skin to reduce the colonisation by fungi.
Soak socks well in an anti-fungal laundry product such as Milton’s solution.
Keeping feet dry
Dry feet well, paying particular attention to the areas between the toes. As much as possible, time bathing and swimming so that your feet have time to dry out completely before putting on socks or shoes.
Use an anti-perspirant to reduce sweating from the glands in the feet.
If you get sweaty during the day, changing socks at half time will he with preventing fungal infection of toenails.
Keep your nails reasonably short to discourage the build up of debris, a haven for infection. Keep thickened skin down as dead upper layers of the skin have no resistance to infections.
Do not use nail polish for more than a day or two at a time. Nail polish will paint the fungal spores in place onto your nail, allowing them to invade the nail. Polish is also like a vinyl layer that traps moisture into the waterlogged tissues after bathing.
As nails are not living tissue, the only barrier to fungal infection of a nail plate is the shiny surface of the nail. It should not be disturbed by pushing back the cuticles, buffing, scraping or polishing the nail. Application of adhesive gel nails should always be avoided. Shoes should not fit too loosely, allowing the foot to slide forward bruising the nails.
Contamination & Cross Infection
If you have had a fungal nail infection , any bladed tools that have been used on the affected nails can be cleaned with bleach and water. Files should be disposed of as should any open bottles of nail polish used on those nails.
Nail salons should be avoided unless they met the following standards:
- Water must be changed between patrons
- The tub must be cleaned between patrons
- If water is sucked through a spa, the inner receptacle must be cleaned regularly
- Pedicure tools MUST be presented to you in a sterile pack, having passed through an autoclave.
- With autoclaves costing between $5,000 to $10,000, you need to consider if the salon you choose values your health enough to incur this sort of costs. Remember that any tools used in a pedicure may draw blood. The number one pathogen that is spread in a pedicure salon is fungal, followed by bacterial and then viral.
Viral infections can be the most serious – they include HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Fortunately, these virus are relatively easy to kill although salons that do no sterilisation do not protect you adequately against these life – threatening diseases.
Fungal infections are the hardest to prevent, though on the upside, these infections are generally not a threat to life and limb. Things that don’t kill fungi include: alcohol, heat, blue light, ‘sterilisers’ and rinsing / scrubbing. Things that do kill fungi make a much briefer list.
Nail polish pots can also be a source of infection. If the person before you has a fungal infection, using the paint and brush that was used on them will nicely paint the fungal infection in place on your nail where it is easy for it to feast on your nail tissue.
When you think about it – who is likely to have been the client before you at a nail salon ? Someone whose nails are ugly because of fungus ? Someone who often frequents nail salons and is therefore prone to already having fungal nail infection ?