April showers have come and gone and the May flowers are starting to bloom. You do know what comes next, right? June; and the month of June in Canada tends to bring beautiful balmy weather. Soon we will be indulging in warm breezes, taking trips to the park, going on strolls in our neighbourhoods and spending lots of porch, balcony and back yard time. All of these activities have one thing in common: casual footwear.
With Summer right around the corner, our desire to don casual footwear is coming (finally!) and we are eagerly looking forward to flinging off our socks and being able to wear sandals, open-toed-shoes and flip flops while we brunch on the patio, go for long walks with the dog and take the kidlets to the park. The problem is, we are looking at our toes and noticing that there are a few white and yellow spots under the nails that weren’t there last summer.
Of course, we want to look and feel our best, which is why we don’t want to ignore something like a change in the colour of our nails because this could be the sign of something more than just cosmetic change. In fact, the white or yellow spots are likely the beginning stages of nail fungus, which is, believe it or not, fairly common. Nail fungus accounts for 33% of all fungal infections of the skin and while at least 14% of adults have reported having a nail fungal infection, it’s likely that more have had one. It usually starts with these spots under the tip of a fingernail or toenail and at first, it may be easy to ignore—but don’t.
What Is Nail Fungus?
Nail fungal infections are caused by fungi. While these sound cute and “fun”, they actually aren’t(!). Fungi are tiny organisms that thrive in warm, moist environments. Showers and swimming pools are among their favourite hiding places and any separation between your nail and the skin beneath is an open invitation for fungi to do their thing. Even a microscopic cut in your skin can let them in.
Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis (“ah-nuh-koe-my-koe-sus”) is a fungal infection that affects the nail bed (the skin beneath the nail), the nail matrix (the area where the nail starts to grow) or the nail plate (the hard part of the nail) on fingernails and/or toenails. This fungus can attack one or more of your nails and usually begins, as mentioned, with a white or yellow spot under a nail. As the fungus spreads deeper into the nail, the nail becomes more and more damaged as the infection becomes worse.
Symptoms of a fungal nail infection:
- Discolouration: spots of white, yellow, dark yellow or even brown
- Brittle, crumbly or constantly ragged nails for no reason, without injury
- Progressive distortion to the shape of the nail with pitting or thickening
- Having a slightly foul smell in addition to one or more of the above symptoms
Prevention of nail fungal infections:
As usual with most skin or body surface infections, practicing good hygiene can help prevent and reduce the occurrence of nail fungus and can even cure a burgeoning infection. As is common as well, after successful treatment, nail fungal infections may return. According to the CDC, anyone can get a fungal nail infection. Some people may be more likely than others to get a fungal nail infection, including older adults and people who have conditions such as:
- A nail injury or previous nail surgery
- A weakened or compromised immune system
- Athlete’s foot
- Circulation issues (swelling of the feet, varicose veins, obesity, Raynaud’s Disease)
To lower your risk of infection or recurrence of a fungal infection, always:
- Wash your hands and feet regularly. Wash your hands after touching an infected nail.
- Trim nails straight across, smooth the edges with a file and file down thickened areas.
- Disinfect your nail clippers after each use and don’t share nail clippers
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks or change your socks throughout the day
- Discard old shoes or treat them with disinfectants or antifungal powders
- Wear footwear in pool areas and locker rooms
Remember: nail fungus is contagious and can also get increasingly worse over time. That’s why it’s important to treat it as soon as you spot the first signs of an infection.
Nail fungus treatments
Treatment options that may help you get rid of nail fungus include both non-prescription (Over-the-counter treatments) and prescription medications.
Some topical non-prescription treatments require you to soak and/or “thin” affected nails by filing before applying the treatment. Also: not all antifungal products available without a prescription are made to treat nail fungal infections. Keep in mind if you are at the drug store looking into over-the-counter treatments that some are intended only for fungal infections of the skin.
While Emtrix is not a prescription but is indicated for the treatment of both toenail and fingernail fungal infections. It works thanks to two active ingredients—urea and lactic acid—which successfully combine to treat nail fungal infections while also softening and smoothing nails that may have become brittle or thick as the result of infection.
Emtrix is an easy-to-use solution that is applied in a thin layer once a day directly throughout the treatment period to affected nails—no pretreatment necessary. Simply a thin layer over the entire surface, including under the free edge of the nail. Allow to dry for a few minutes and repeat daily. Nail fungus treatment can be lengthy and take 3 to 6 months.
You may want to see a physician if self-care steps have not helped and the nail becomes increasingly discoloured, thickened or deformed. Also, see a doctor if you have diabetes and think you are developing nail fungus. Having diabetes could cause you to have severe complications and a healthcare professional is best to assess your feet in that situation.
This information is a general overview and may not apply to everyone. This product may not be right for you. Always read and follow the package instructions carefully.