Everyone can agree that nail fungus is no fun. It can be painful, unsightly, smelly -- not to mention embarrassing, inconvenient, and stubborn, to boot! Even when doing everything right, completely clearing a fungal nail infection can take months. Unfortunately, people often compound matters by making mistakes in how they handle their nail fungus, and make treating it much more painful than it has to be.
If you have nail fungus, you're already suffering enough! At Nail 17, we want you to have the fastest, easiest recovery possible, so we compiled the top 5 mistakes people with nail fungus make that you definitely should avoid:
1) Hoping against hope that it will "just go away"
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but that fungal nail infection isn't going anywhere. In fact, it will likely continue to get worse, making treatment later far more difficult and drawn out than what would have been needed originally. Putting off treatment is the most common mistake people make, and often the most costly. An infection that could've been cleared up in only a few months may end up dragging out for more than a year -- resulting in higher treatment costs, and more embarrassment and frustration.
Think about it: Fungi love to live in dark, warm, moist places, so if you're someone that wears shoes for the majority of your day, it's the perfect environment for fungus to flourish. Couple that with the fact that toes receive less blood flow than the rest of the body and you have a formidable infection to deal with. The best thing to do is to accept that you have a fungal nail infection, and start taking steps towards healing it.
2) Trying to hide nail fungus with nail polish
Going to the pool or beach with a fungal nail isn't at the top of most people's summer fun list -- it's the one place where hiding an infected yellow nail is nearly impossible. But as much as you might have the urge to try to cover it with some nail polish, don't do it!
Putting nail polish over a fungal nail creates a seal around the infection, locking in any germs or moisture that may be on the nail. And since fungi love dark, warm, moist places, this creates an environment that often accelerates and worsens the infection, while preventing much needed oxygen from accessing the infection. Even if you clean and sanitize the nail before painting, it's still a bad idea, as water can seep through cracks in the polish and get trapped underneath. Just avoid nail polish all together, and avoid making your fungal nail much worse than it would be.
3) Messing with the fungal nail
Nail fungus can be so infuriating that you just want to take care of it yourself! Commonly people try scraping the fungus away from under the nail plate, or cutting off infected parts of the nail entirely -- but it's all a bad idea. Messing with your fungal nail can stir up fungus spores and cause the infection to spread and grow more easily. As a rule of thumb (or toe), only mess with the nail when it needs to be trimmed because it's getting too long, and remember to clean and sanitize (and avoid sharing) any tools that come in contact with the nail fungus, lest you desire to spread the infection to other parts of the body, or to other people!
4) Forgetting to disinfect items that contact the nail fungus
Effectively treating a fungal nail infection means an attention to detail when it comes to cleanliness, especially with items that come in contact with the fungus. Earlier, we wrote an article about fungusproofing your home to avoid an infection, but this may be even more important when actually have an infection. Since fungus is resilient and spreads easily, it can take root in these places and become a danger for spreading to other nails, or keeping the preventing the original infection from healing. Invest in antifungal spray or powder to use regularly on shoes and socks while you're dealing with the infection, as well as cleaning tools like nail clippers any time they come in contact with the infection. Remember to launder sheets, too, as fungus can take root in the fabric, and it's also a good idea to clean places like the bathtub thoroughly to avoid fungus from building up on the surfaces.
5) Not letting the infection breathe
Lots of people work all day long, and as a result, end up covering up their fungal nail for long periods of time without air. Sometimes there's no way to avoid a situation like this, but as much as possible, you want to make sure the infection is able to breathe. Remember, fungi love the warm, dark, moist environment of a shoe, so sitting in one all day long is exactly what they want -- especially if you're active on your feet in a field like construction. If at all possible, give your feet a chance to air out during the day, and definitely kick your shoes off at night when you get home. Oxygen is important for helping the infection heal, and getting it out of that environment fungi love to thrive in will prevent it from growing and spreading as aggressively, and give any topical antifungals you might be using a chance to kill off the fungus while the nail heals.
Remember, don't do your nail fungus any favors! Avoid these 5 critical mistakes and save yourself all kinds of unnecessary time, money, and frustration in fighting off your fungal nail infection.