One of the joys of hot weather and vacation is lounging by the pool and enjoying the sun and cool water.
However, foot health experts strongly advise you not to go barefoot in the pool between dives as it could lead to a bad infection that could ruin your vacation – and linger for months afterwards.
While they can provide a much-needed respite from the heat, common areas like swimming pools can be fertile ground for infection-causing fungi that thrive on moist surfaces.
Aside from causing warts and warts, the fungi in and around pools can also lead to a nasty fungal nail infection.
New research from foot care brand Excilor has found a whopping 25 per cent of Britons suffer from nail problems, but only 11 per cent know what’s behind their yellowed nails.
And a whopping 89 percent don’t even know what a fungal nail infection is.
They usually affect your toenails, but according to the NHS, you can also transfer them to your fingernails.
You’ll usually notice a slight yellowing at the edge of the nail, but the infection often spreads to the middle, causing it to become discolored and sometimes thicker.
Over time, your nail can become brittle and brittle, sometimes even detaching from the nail bed and causing swelling.
As pharmacist Noel Wicks put it, “In most cases, fungal nail infections look unsanitary. The infection usually starts at the edge of the nail, which changes color to whitish-yellow, brown, or green.”
The NHS notes that while fungal nail infections are not necessarily serious, they can take a long time to treat.
And according to Excilor, they can impact your daily life, leaving sufferers feeling pain and embarrassed to put on open-toed shoes.
In a survey conducted by the foot care brand, 52 percent said the pain was the worst thing about a nail infection, while a third (32 percent) said they felt embarrassed about the condition.
More than half (57 percent) said they stopped wearing open-toed shoes because of the infection, and 56 percent said it prevented them from engaging in summer activities like swimming or exercising.
The family doctor and top foot expert Dr. Gill Jenkins explained: “Fungal nail infections are notoriously difficult to clear without treatment and can cause pain, swelling and itching.
“For many sufferers, these painful symptoms interfere with their lives and make it difficult for them to be active on a daily basis.
“A sore foot not only prevents you from exercising, but often makes it difficult to fall asleep.”
From nail fungus patients surveyed by Excilor:
- 36 percent reported hardening and thickening of the nail
- 36 percent had toe pain
- 36 percent had red skin around the nail
- 30 percent said they had pus
- In 23 percent of the cases, the nails were separated from the nail bed
dr Jenkins warned, “If you are unfortunate enough to get an infection, you must treat it as soon as possible.”
“They are often incredibly contagious, even so contagious that even touching your feet and then touching other parts of your body can spread the fungus.”
It can travel between your feet and hands and even between people.
How can I stop the spread of a fungal nail infection?
Pharmacist Noel Wicks said that as the fungus develops, it grows under or into the nail, “causing the nail plate to thicken and crumble away.”
“This can sometimes cause the nail to partially come off, sometimes completely,” he explained.
However, he stressed that treatment should be started early to prevent fungal development to this extent.
“If left untreated, these infections can lead to further complications such as permanent loss of the nail, a flare-up of infection, and even in extreme cases, spread of infection to other areas of the body or even the bloodstream,” Noel warned.
He added, “If fungal nail infections aren’t treated, they can actually last for years.”
The pharmacist also pointed out that people with diabetes – there are five million of them in the UK – need to be particularly wary of nail infections as they can lead to more serious health problems such as foot ulcers.
Aside from nail discoloration and flaking, Dr. Jenkins also teaches you to look out for changes in your skin, such as: B. hardening, itching and flaking.
You can pick up the treatment at your nearest pharmacy – your pharmacist may recommend an antifungal or nail softening cream. However, you should see a GP if treatment doesn’t help or the infection spreads to other nails.
Note that it can take anywhere from three to twelve months for the infection to heal completely.
To treat a fungal nail infection, first clean the nail and remove all nail polish.
Coat the nail and the underside of the nail border with your treatment solution and allow to dry before putting your socks or shoes back on.
Apply the solution to the infected area twice a day. For best results, treat the infected area for at least three months.
It is best to continue treatment until the nail has fully recovered.
How do I avoid a fungal nail infection in the first place?
Most of us will completely forget about daily foot hygiene, but keeping an eye on it can keep nasty infections at bay.
Excilor recommends you use a nail brush to keep the tops of the nails clean as well as the bottoms of the nails. Also, make sure to trim nails regularly and keep them clean and smooth.
You should also keep in mind that common areas like swimming pools and gym locker rooms are breeding grounds for fungi, putting your feet at risk of infection.
Always wear flip-flops on wet public floors to keep your feet dry and off the ground.
dr Genkins gave the following tips:
- Keep nails clean and trim them regularly
- Avoid wearing shoes that make your feet sweat
- Do not share towels, washcloths, bedclothes, socks or shoes with other people
- Avoid wearing artificial nails
- Instead of going barefoot, wear flip flops in common areas like the pool or sauna
How do I keep my feet healthy in summer and which shoes should I avoid?
Noel had the following advice if you’re preparing to have a little more bare feet in the summer months.
- Nobody wants smelly feet – keep them clean by washing them once a day and don’t forget to dry them between your toes to avoid athlete’s foot
- Wear socks that are at least 70 percent cotton to allow your feet to breathe, and avoid nylon tights or stockings
- Are your shoes starting to stink? Kill the bacteria by cleaning them with surgical grade alcohol and cotton
- Give your nails a break from painting for a few days to a week once a month to promote nail health
- Skip heels and equip supportive sneakers or shoes – it’s better for your feet and posture