Have you checked your toenails lately?

Big Toe with Fungal Infection.

Now that summer is here, people from all walks of life have given up on shoes and socks. Sandals, flip flops or bare feet, yes people walking bare feet, is the norm. Now look at your feet then look at your toenails. Are they full of calluses, plantar warts, ingrown toenails and/or totally deformed nails due to fungal infection?

Wow, that sounds horrific. None the less not life threatening. So, you will live long enough to fiddle fuddle with your toenails, with nail clippers and all sorts of sharp instruments people use to fix the problem themselves until they end up getting infection. And if you are a diabetic then gangrene and amputation may be the end point.

Wow again! But don’t panic. If this is getting scary then get a glass of wine (will keep your heart and feet warm), relax and read. Just pay attention to your feet and toes and toenails and you won’t lose your foot.

Nails protect the tips of our fingers and toes. Two most common problems I see with toenails are ingrown toenails and fungal infection.

Ingrown toenail of the big toe usually occurs when sweaty feet are encased in tight shoes. The situation gets worse when the nail is trimmed short and the corners are curved down. The side of the nail curls inwards and grows to form outer spikes. This causes painful infection of the overhanging nail fold.

Ingrown toenails can be prevented by keeping feet nice and clean. Wear roomy shoes and clean cotton socks. Allow the outer corners of the nail to grow over the skin margins placing small piece of cotton soaked in an antiseptic just under the outer corners of the nail. Cut the nails straight. Antibiotics will help relieve acute infection but will not cure the primary problem. Eventually, surgical procedure done in the office under local anaesthetic becomes necessary.

Fungal infection of the nails is common as well. It affects toenails more than finger nails. The nail is thickened and discolored. It is usually yellowish. The nail may grow in a twisted manner. The infection is picked up in a public place where it is transmitted from person to person. Poor feet hygiene does not help.

Fungus infection is best treated with anti-fungal therapy orally and locally for three months. Cure rate is around 80 percent. Ongoing meticulous foot care is very important to prevent recurrence. If they are thick, stubborn, deformed, ugly and painful then surgery is required.

If you love your feet and toenails then keep your feet clean and shiny…yes you can do it.

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