At Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas, one of the most common complaints we see is foot fungus. This can vary from the toenails, to the bottom of the boot, to the skin between the toes. Regardless of the location, there are many different treatment options for all types and seeing your podiatrist will guide you to those steps. Once the treatment is complete and the fungus has gone away, most patients think that it is gone for good; unfortunately, that is not always the case. The fungus can begin to return, and it can even seem to be out of nowhere. Today, I am going to give you some tips and tricks to prevent your foot fungus from returning – for good!
- Treating your shoes. Fungus of any type loves three things: dark, damp, and warm places. Your shoes fit this description perfectly! So, when you are continuously wearing shoes, fungus is continuously contaminating your shoes. Fungus is already a difficult infection to get rid of, and what surprises many people is that fungus can live in your shoes for up to 20 months! Thus, continuously treating your shoes for periods of time throughout treatment is essential. There are many ways to treat shoes including Lysol, anti-fungal mists, and UV shoe cleaning devices. Ask your podiatrist about these options and how often to do each of them.
- Treating your socks. Now while shoes are clearly a part of your routine that can stay infected, you would think your regularly washed socks would be less so. Unfortunately, this could not be farther from the truth! In previous studies, socks of treated patients were tested and showed that fungus was still present after regular washes months after treatment. This is a clear issue to prevent recurrence or failure to heal in the first place. So, it is necessary to treat socks specially to keep clean and control the amount of fungus in them as you wear them. While some think buying new socks and throwing out all old socks is an answer, the moment you start wearing your new socks, these will now begin to get infected. Many sock regimens exist including soaks, using bleach components, and sprays. Ask your podiatrist about these options and how often to do each.
- Stopping treatment too soon. It is commonly seen that when the skin or nails appear to finally be healed, patients will stop their daily regimen. Fungus is smaller than the naked eye can see, thus continuing treatment beyond physically seeing improvement is important. Allow your podiatrist to assess you once the infection is healed to determine the length of time needed to complete the regimen before discontinuing.
- Pedicures. While many people – including myself – enjoy being pampered, there are certain things to avoid when going to a salon. Not all salons are as equally attentive when it comes to clean instruments, so if any trimming or filing is needed, these are the top two ways patients can get a new fungal infection. It is safer to purchase your own nail trimming tools and ask for the technician to use yours instead. Additionally, there is some evidence that nail polish bottles, especially its applicators can harbor fungus. Providing your own polish is also advisable in this case. Finally, if you were recently treated for a nail fungus, the worst possible thing to do is to apply nail polish soon after healing. Nail polish suffocates the nail so if there is any residual nail fungus present, it will take this opportunity to reinoculate itself and possibly reverse all progress. Ask your podiatrist what they think is the best time to begin getting pedicures following treatment.
While these are a few examples of reasons your foot fungus is returning, there are many other factors to consider. If you have any questions or concerns regarding foot fungus, give us a call at Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas and we help your fight your foot fungus!