Nail fungus is a fairly common condition, the nail would appear discolored, cracked, and broken. The scientific term for nail function is “onychomycosis”. The fungus can occur in both toenails and in fingernails but toenail fungus is more common than fingernail fungus. There are many different types of fungus that cause the infection, commonly it is dermatophytes (athlete’s foot), the other types are yeast and molds that is present in the environment. Small breaks or opening in the nail and the surrounding skin can be the entry point of these fungi.
Who Is At Risk For Nail Fungus?
Elderly People. Elderly men, more than 60 years are more prone to get nail fungus especially toenail fungus.(1)
Nail Injury Or Nail Surgery. Anyone who had a nail injury or undergone a nail surgery are at risk for toenail fungus, especially if the wound is open it can easily get infected by the fungus present in the environment. Therefore, such wounds should be clean and covered with dressings. But not all nail injuries get infected. If you have psoriasis that also increases the risk of you getting fungal nail infections.(2)
Diabetes Mellitus. You must have all heard that diabetes can cause sensory loss; poor wound healing and affect the blood circulation, especially in the feet. Therefore, people with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and who have developed those complications are at increased risk of getting toenail infections. It is important you check your feet every day before going to sleep and keep the feet clean and dry.
Immunocompromised. If your immune system is compromised either due to a diseases like HIV or due to drugs, you are at increased risk of fungal toenail infections.
History Of Poor Blood Circulation. If you have varicose veins or any other condition that reduces the blood flow in the arms and legs can increase the risk of fungal nail infections.(2)
A Family History Of Nail Fungus. This is mainly seen in toenail fungus, where some people with a history of toenail fungus in their family are more prone to get it.
Wearing Tight Boots. Wearing tight, heavy boots reduces the ventilation and the feet sweat a lot as well. Any circumstance where your feet sweat a lot or become wet is perfect for the fungus to grow. So, you need to change socks within the day to keep your feet dry and allow the boots to dry completely before wearing again. It is best you have several pairs of boots
Wearing Tight Shoes – Wearing tight and closed-toe shoes that are narrow in the toe area can damage your toenails and it also reduces the ventilation which increases the risk of toenail fungus. If you like to wear close-toe shoes choose shoes that have a wider toe area.
Athletes. Athletes are at an increased risk of toenail fungus as running for long distances makes you sweats a lot. Therefore, it is best you wear special socks that absorb the moisture and allow the shoes to dry completely.
Walking Bare Feet In Damp/Wet Common Areas. Outside the swimming pool, shower areas and locker rooms are some places that remain damp and humid most times. Walking in bare feet or changing to your regular shoes without properly drying your feet can increase the risk of toenail fungus.(1)
Nail fungus is a common condition and it is seen more in the toenails than in the fingernails. There are so many risk factors for fungal nails such as being elderly, nail injury or nail surgery, diabetes mellitus, immunocompromised, history of poor blood circulation, family history of nail fungus, wearing tight boots, wearing tight shoes, being an athlete, and walking bare feet in damp/wet areas. All of these increase the risk of nail fungus; most of these increase the risk of toenail fungus.