With summer fast approaching and people opting for open footwear, the risk of nail infection becomes a reality. As we crave sunshine and water activities, fungal infection can spread easily in places such as swimming pools, gyms and communal showers.
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Older age, poor immune function and generally not looking after your feet can all contribute to getting the condition.
Not addressing it can lead to dire consequences such as permanent loss of the nail and even a spread of infection to other areas of the body. Meanwhile, early detection can prevent having to seek specialist help at a later stage.
Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to lower your chances of getting affected by this common infection. Here is how to keep your feet healthy throughout the summer months.
Common symptoms of nail infection
According to GP and foot care expert Doctor Gill Jenkins, exposing our toes during the summer can make us more prone to frustrating nail infections.
Speaking on behalf of Excilor, she said that around ⅕ of Brits suffer from a nail infection at any one time, while nearly half of those affected are not aware they have the condition.
The most common warning signs include hardening, discolouration, thickening, flaking, and crumbling of the nail.
Dr Jenkins warned that a fungal nail infection can also damage the nail and cause pain in the feet.
If not addressed, it can lead to further complications such as permanent loss of the nail, a resurgence of the infection and even, in extreme cases, a spread of infection to other areas of the body, or even the bloodstream in people who are frail or immunosuppressed.
Here is how to reduce the risk of nail infection
To keep your feet safe, wash them daily and dry them thoroughly, including between the toes.
Dr Jenkins advises those wearing nail polish to give their nails a break from it for a few days to a week to help boost their health. She also recommends avoiding fake nails.
Wearing flip-flops instead of going barefoot in communal areas like the swimming pool or sauna will also help the prevention.
Opt out of the shoes that make your feet sweat. Regularly put your trainers through a machine wash and allow them to dry fully before use.
Dr Jenkins added:
Wear fresh socks every day, made from at least 70% cotton so your feet can breathe and swap heels for supportive trainers or shoes and avoid any tight or pinching footwear.
It is also important to not share towels, nail clippers and footwear with other people.
Treating the infection quickly can help to prevent further damage. Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.
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