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Toe-Nailed It!

by Coach Jill Csillag

The health of your toenails says a lot of your overall foot health. The discussion of toenails & the fungus that may afflict them may make some uncomfortable, but it’s an important part of total foot care.

It’s of utmost importance to keep your toenails trimmed and healthy and take care of ingrown toenails promptly. Most of the time you can trim the toenails yourself, but you may have to enlist the help of a podiatrist for chronic toenail issues such as ingrown toenails. An ingrown toenail can bring even the strongest person to their knees because of the pain and pressure. Click here for further information from Web MD on treatment for an ingrown toenail.

If you are a diabetic, ALWAYS have your nails trimmed by a medical professional, as trimming them too close could invite infection into the feet.

If you are a regular polisher of your toenails, remember to give them a break from polish periodically. This will allow your nail beds to breathe and rejuvenate.

Nail fungus is a common condition that afflicts millions. The Mayo Clinic describes nail fungus as such:

Nail fungus is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can affect several nails but usually not all of them.

If your condition is mild and not bothering you, you may not need treatment. If your nail fungus is painful and has caused thickened nails, self-care steps and medications may help. But even if treatment is successful, nail fungus often comes back.Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a dermatophyte fungus. Yeasts and molds also can be responsible for nail fungal infections. A severe case of nail fungus can be painful and may cause permanent damage to your nails. And it may lead to other serious infections that spread beyond your feet if you have a suppressed immune system due to medication, diabetes or other conditions.

If you have diabetes, you may have reduced blood circulation and nerve supply in your feet. You’re also at greater risk of a bacterial skin infection (cellulitis). So any relatively minor injury to your feet — including a nail fungal infection — can lead to a more serious complication. See your doctor if you have diabetes and think you’re developing nail fungus.

The old saying of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true when it comes to toenail fungus. It’s best to allow your feet to breathe to avoid the warm, moist environment that shoes provide. Cotton socks should be avoided, as they stay damp inside the shoe and provide the perfect conditions for fungus to thrive. If you frequent swimming pools or locker room showers, ALWAYS wear a sandal or shoe to prevent coming in contact with fungus or bacteria that may be present on damp surfaces.

There are several over the counter treatments that are effective at combating nail fungus, especially when the condition is caught early. However, if you find you have a chronic case of fungus that you can’t clear up on your own, then it’s time to consult a doctor. If you have diabetes or a compromised immune system, it’s crucial to see a doctor as soon as symptoms appear for the best results.

Marathon runners often see black toenails as a necessary rite of passage from hours put into running many miles. This is incorrect! Black toenails and toenail loss is the result of improper fit from athletic shoes that are too short. A runner with a black toenail should go to a quality shoe store for a more proper fit.

Please don’t ignore your toenails! Take some preventative measures and give them a little TLC, and they will reward you with healthy toenails you can be proud of!

Tomorrow: Cotton is ROTTEN!

Have a question for Coach Jill? Ask it in the comments below!

Also check out these posts: A Guide to Finding the Best Athletic Footwear for You, Common Foot Injuries and How to Treat Them, 100 lb Weight Loss: How Did You DO It?

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