To help prevent nail fungus and reduce recurrent infections, practice good hand and foot hygiene.

  • Keep your nails short, dry and clean. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas. Thoroughly dry your hands and feet, including between your toes, after bathing.
  • Wear appropriate socks. Synthetic socks that wick away moisture may keep your feet dryer than do cotton or wool socks (you can also wear synthetic socks underneath other socks). Change them often, especially if your feet sweat excessively. Take your shoes off occasionally during the day and after exercise. Alternate closed-toe shoes with open-toe shoes.
  • Use an antifungal spray or powder. Spray or sprinkle your feet and the insides of your shoes.
  • Wear rubber gloves. This protects your hands from overexposure to water. Between uses, turn the rubber gloves inside out to dry.
  • Don't trim or pick at the skin around your nails. This may give germs access to your skin and nails.
  • Don't go barefoot in public places. Wear shoes around public pools, showers and locker rooms.
  • Choose a reputable manicure and pedicure salon. Make sure the salon sterilizes its instruments. Better yet, bring your own.
  • Give up nail polish and artificial nails. Although it may be tempting to hide nail fungal infections under a coat of pretty pink polish, this can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the infection.
  • Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Nail fungus can spread from nail to nail.
Aug. 25, 2011