Fungus can spread from the nail to the skin if not dealt with promptly.
Fungus can spread from the nail to the skin if not dealt with promptly. mheim3011

Use some simple tips to avoid stubborn to nail fungus

ONCE you have a toenail fungal infection it's hard to get rid of, but by following some of these podiatrist tips you can lessen the chance of it happening and manage it better if it does.

Sometimes it's hard to see what is happening to your feet so visits every two or so months to your podiatrist is the best way to manage feet health.

Fungus can become a vicious cycle, spreading from the nail to the skin if you not dealt promptly says Australian Podiatry Association ambassador and podiatrist Charlotte Bodell.

"You treat the skin which should take about two weeks to heal, using the right topical treatment, but then your nail still has fungus on it so it reinfects your skin," Ms Bodell says.

"I have also seen, once patients have toenails with fungus on, the fingernails get fungus on them because you are picking at them."

The fungal infection can also stay in shoes and even get into the carpet in your home.

Avoidance

  • Dry between your toes after coming into contact with water.
  • Don't pick at dry skin around your toes. Instead, use a cotton bud soaked in a drying agent such as Witch Hazel or methylated spirits, and dab on the damp area.
  • Avoid wearing nylon stockings, which trap moisture. Put them on before you head out of house rather then wearing them all day.
  • For sweaty feet, try wearing bamboo charcoal socks which reduce moisture around the feet and are antimicrobial. These socks can be bought from David Jones and Myer. If you are prone to swollen legs, Ms Bodell says you can get ones that have a loose upper.
  • If there is redness between the toes, consult your GP.
  • If you have fungus, spray Glen 20, tea tree oil or eucalyptus in your shoes before wearing them.
  • Regularly air the inside of your footwear. Take the lining out and put them in the sun to help kill bacteria.
  • Rotate your footwear including slippers.
  • Throw out old shoes. "If you have been wearing your slippers for over a year, please get a new pair," Ms Bodell suggests.
  • Wash your socks using a specific anti-fungal washing powder, which can be bought from the supermarket. Wash the socks separately from your underwear, in very hot water and dry in sun.

Treatment

Ms Bodell says there are four options.

  • Leave it - if a patient has an increased chance of falling by trying to get down to treat the fungus then Ms Bodell suggests they leave it alone, or better still, go to a podiatrist for treatment.
  • Topical - available from pharmacies, it needs to be applied for as long as it takes for the nail to grow. The big toenail can take between 12 and 18 months to grow the whole nail plate. Ms Bodell advises taking a picture of the infected toenail every month to help with checking the nail growth. There is only about 30 per cent chance this will rid the toe of the infection.
  • Laser Therapy - done by a podiatrist, it usually is involves between one and three treatments. It has an 83 per cent success rate, but it can't be done if the patient has peripheral neuropathy.
  • Medication - the most effective treatment is taking oral medication, if the patient's liver is healthy. Before being given the medication by a GP, a nail sample is done and grown in the lab for about six weeks.