6 Risk Factors for Fungal Nail

6 Risk Factors for Fungal Nail

It’s not easy to talk about embarrassing foot problems, but we know that sometimes uncomfortable conversations are the most crucial. Discussing this particular foot problem becomes even more critical when you consider that nearly 20% of the general population and 75% of people over 60 years old have fungal nails. 

Here, Dr. Maurice Aiken and our team at Bay Breeze Foot & Ankle Specialists take a closer look at fungal nails and explore who’s most at risk, so you can get the help you need as quickly as possible. 

What happens when I get a fungal nail?

Fungal nails develop any time the onychomycosis fungus infiltrates your toenails. The result is discolored, weakened, crumbly toenails that sometimes emit a foul odor. Left to their own devices, your fungal nails could trigger a burning, itchy sensation in the rest of your foot. 

Fungal nails are frustrating, but they aren’t serious threats to your overall health. Still, it’s best to know what your feet are up against. Here are six risk factors that significantly increase your chance of developing fungal nails. 

1. Your age

Your physical health undergoes significant changes as you get older, and your feet are no exception. Older adults account for many fungal nail cases because their nails have gradually died out over time. Dry nails tend to crack more easily, which opens the door for fungal infections to set in.

2. Overly sweaty feet

You may not realize it, but your feet have more sweat glands per square inch than any other area of your body. It should come as no surprise, then, that your feet sweat from time to time. However, for 5% of the population, their feet sweat too much — a condition called hyperhidrosis.

If you have overly sweaty feet, they quickly become a breeding ground for fungi. 

3. History of athlete’s foot

You don’t have to be an athlete to get athlete's foot, but if you’ve had a run-in with this fungal infection in the past, you’re likely to battle more fungal infections. 

4. Diabetes and other circulatory issues

Sometimes, we can attribute fungal nails to an underlying health condition. Diabetes and other circulatory problems impact your foot health and can cause you to get fungal nails more often. 

5. Skin injuries

Even the smallest scrape or cut on your foot allows fungal infections a chance to attack your toenails. 

6. Going barefoot in the wrong places

We know how wonderful it feels to walk barefoot on sandy beaches and soft grass. For the most part, going barefoot from time to time doesn’t pose much of a threat to your foot health. 

However, if you walk around barefoot in places like public locker rooms and showers, you leave your feet vulnerable to a wide range of harmful bacteria and fungi. That’s because fungi grow best in warm, moist environments. We recommend that you always wear shower shoes when walking in shared spaces.

Help for fungal nails

Fortunately, most cases of fungal nails are mild and only require conservative, over-the-counter ointments. There are some fungal nails that stem from an underlying medical condition that may need a more potent treatment, such as HyperBlue® laser therapy

In addition to our advanced treatments, we also encourage you to embrace these healthy habits to avoid fungal nails in the future:

If you have more questions about your risk for toenail fungus, or if you suspect you have fungal nails, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at our Dunedin, Florida, office today. 

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