Helping Seniors Live Healthier Lives

Dealing With Toenail Fungus? Your At-Home Pedicures Could Be The Culprit

If you've noticed your toenails changing in thickness or in color, you may be at risk for onychomycosis, or toenail fungus. But if you take good care of your nails with pedicures, you're probably wondering why that would be a problem. Take a look at why your home pedicures could be the cause of fungus and what you should do to eradicate it.

Why Would At-Home Pedicures Cause Fungus?

Believe it or not, bacteria and debris can become lodged in the blades of nail clippers. And if you or your family members share any clippers without cleaning them, that bacteria can add up. After you use your nail clippers for your pedicure, you should set them in some rubbing alcohol to properly clean and disinfect them.

Another reason why pedicures could cause fungus is if you are constantly changing your polish color. Since lots of nail polish removers use acetone, that repeated use can really dry out your nails and lead them to split. If nails are broken down, bacteria can more easily accumulate on the nail bed. While acetone is certainly an effective remover, there are other alternatives—like soy-based or glycerin-based removers—that will have a moisturizing effect and prevent your toenails from being at risk for fungus.

How Can I Treat It?

For mild infections, you can use antifungal topical creams. The downside is that this may be a temporary solution; once you stop using the cream, the fungus may return.

Another way to treat your toenails is to soak them in white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. You can still enjoy the benefits of a spa treatment; you'll just opt out of the painted nails. After you soak your feet for about 20 to 30 minutes, make sure you thoroughly dry them. Fungus thrives in damp areas, so you don't want to make this remedy work against you!

When Should I See a Podiatrist?

It's best to nip the problem in the bud and see a podiatrist as soon as you can. If you leave any discoloration or thickening alone, it can spread to other nails, start to smell foul, and become difficult to trim down. Really bad fungus can also make it painful to walk.

If the case is mild, your podiatrist may encourage you to continue with home treatments. If it is more severe, he or she may take a culture of the bacteria to determine the cause, then prescribe some oral antifungals. If your case does get really bad, the podiatrist can remove the infected nail entirely with surgery. However, this is step is often taken if all other options have been exhausted.