Fungal agents (in the case of nail fungus – dermatophytes) are ubiquitous. They are largely invisible, often live in a variety of environments and are very easily spread. However, most fungi that humans are exposed to are most likely to thrive in warm, moist environments like bathrooms, locker rooms, gyms, poolside and anywhere else where people would be likely to be walking around barefoot. These are prime breeding grounds for the agents that cause yellow toenails.
How is a nail fungus infection spread? Poor hygiene when nail grooming is by far the most common way. Not keeping the areas in and around the nail beds of both your hands and feet clean is the first step in creating good environment for nail fungus. The accidental spread of fungus can occur when using a contaminated manicure or pedicure tool. Simply by filing an infected nail and then moving on to an uninfected nail is a common mistake that easily spreads a fungal infection. It is wise to keep your personal nail care equipment clean and wash the tools regularly.
Simple exposure is another. So many times our skin, nails and cuticles have microscopic cuts and abrasions through which dermatophytes can enter. Protection and the use of preventative anti-fungal treatments in high risk environments can reduce this risk. Be sure to also keep the skin around your feet and hands will hydrated with a quality skin lotion so that the areas do not become dry and crackly. This can be an inviting situation for skin fungus to develop which can easily then become a nail fungus infection.
People who wear artificial nails are at a higher risk for developing nail fungal infections due to the microscopic damage that is caused to the nail plate. Visiting a clean and thorough nail technician goes a long way to help cut down on the development of these infections.
Finally, there are those individuals who simply are more prone to becoming infected with fungal infections, often due to a hereditary lack of immunity to the organism. That’s not so unusual. Think of all the people who struggle with recurrent sinus infections, strep throat or warts. Typically their systems simply more prone to catching and transmitting these infections. While irritating but true, those prone to nail fungus frequently become reinfected after even after successful treatment.
Other factors that can increase your risk of developing nail fungus include:
– Perspiring heavily
– Working in a humid or moist environment
– Having the skin condition psoriasis
– Wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation at absorb perspiration
– Walking barefoot in damp public places, such as pools, gyms and shower rooms
– Having athletes foot
– Having a minor skin or nail injury, a damaged nail or another infection
– Having diabetes, circulation problems or a weakened immune system