Nail fungus, medically referred to as onychomycosis, is not only difficult to treat, but difficult to keep away from as well. Although fungi in the nails are usually harmless, there are instances when they signal more serious health complications.
Standard treatments for onychomycosis include surgery, as well as topical and oral treatments that target the fungi infection. Although their effectiveness varies, all require follow-up and continuous treatment application to prevent the fungi from returning. But is there any other way to stop the fungi from infecting the nails? Perhaps a different approach can be as effective, if not even more, in combating nail fungus.
As nail fungus infection is a recurring problem, perhaps the treatment approach should come from within. A lifestyle change could help avoid nail fungus infection or at least prevent it from coming back.
Nail fungus can be caught from the environment. However, a person’s overall health can make an impact on how they are affected. It could be an issue related to immunity. It’s possible that they also have poor circulation. In such cases, a lifestyle change can make a big difference.
- Healthy dietary practices to build immunity from infections
The lack of a healthy diet and nutritional supplements can exacerbate a skin and nail condition such as nail fungus. What a person eats reflects on their physical condition. If you’re treating a nail fungus infection, it’s important that you improve your diet as well.
- Increase vitamins and supplements intake
A healthy immune system is the body’s defense against bacteria, viruses, and even fungi. Take vitamins and antioxidants that can boost your immune system and help improve the health of your nails and skin.
- Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system and fights harmful foreign substances in the body, such as bacteria and microbes. It also helps the body produce collagen to help with the healthy development of skin, nails and hair.
- Like vitamin C, vitamin B-12 also helps the body’s immune system to fight off bacteria and other organisms, among many other benefits. It helps maintain the health of nerve cells primarily.
- Biotin is a part of the B complex group of vitamins. As with all B complex vitamins, biotin is needed for healthy skin, hair, and nails.
- Eat healthy and nutritious food
What you eat greatly affects your physical condition. This includes your resistance to germs, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that can harm you. Without proper nutrition, your ability to resist nail fungal infection will be greatly diminished.
- Avoid food that feed yeast or encourage yeast growth, including white bread, pasta and other forms of carbohydrates, as well as alcoholic drinks. Also avoid consuming cheese, dried fruit, and peanuts. Eliminating yeast growth from the digestive tract can help in getting rid of fungal infections on the skin.
- Eat probiotic food. Strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic, help protect the body from harmful bacteria, restore the natural balance of organisms in the digestive system, and therefore control yeast growth in the body. They can be found in dairy products, including fermented products like yogurt, dark chocolate, and ocean-based plants like spirulina and blue-green algae.
- Reduce sugar intake. Diabetics are more prone to getting nail fungal infection, and therefore limiting their sugar intake could be beneficial to them. For non-diabetics, regulating sugar consumption is still a healthy dietary choice.
- Eat foods high in vitamin C. This would include dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, strawberries, papayas, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and bell peppers.
- Eat food rich in vitamin B-12. Red meat, salmon, sardines, mackerel, and liver are examples of food items that are good sources for vitamin B-12.
- Biotin-rich food improve health of nails, hair, and skin. These include eggs, whole grains, sunflower seeds, legumes, nuts, mushrooms, avocados, meat, and fish.
- An active lifestyle for strength and resilience
The body is more susceptible to fungus infection if it is less active. A sedentary lifestyle leads to poor circulation in the extremities of the body, and in turn, leaves hands, fingers, feet, and toes vulnerable to diseases. The body won’t be able to defend itself from threats. What should be healthy skin and nail growth will be hindered, which will allow fungi to infect nails without difficulty.
- Exercise to promote blood flow in the body
Even just daily walking or light jogging can invigorate the whole body. For more vigorous activities, try doing sports or activities such as swimming, running, dancing, and yoga.
- Avoid smoking
Either avoid it or stop it altogether. This is perhaps the most difficult to do out of all the suggestions here. However, putting a stop to your smoking habit, even if done gradually over a period of time, can make a big difference in your overall health. Your body will be free of toxic chemicals which constrict the blood flow to the heart and brain, as well as weaken the lungs. A weakened body is at risk of incurring diseases and fungal infections.
- Practice better hygiene
Part of changing to a healthier lifestyle is practicing more hygienic habits. The body’s immune system can help protect it from harmful organisms, but for double protection from nail fungi, it’s best to practice clean nail habits.
- Always keep hands and feet dry
Fungi thrive in moist places, and those include wet hands and feet. Keep your body dry as often as possible. Use socks, preferably 100% cotton, to keep your feet dry. Change socks as frequently as needed.
- Wear appropriate footwear that fits properly
As much as possible, don’t go barefoot in communal places such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and spas. Use your own flip-flops or any other appropriate footwear. Fungi can lurk in moist places such as those mentioned, and therefore it is recommended that you wear your own footwear.
Wear shoes that fit properly and comfortably as well. Shoes that are too tight can press your toes in an uncomfortable manner, and will therefore aggravate the infection.
- Keep nails trim
To reduce the pressure on the nails, trim your nails regularly. Smoothen out the edges with a nail file or buffer.
- Choose commercial facilities that sanitize their tools and equipment
Make sure the nail salon or spa that you frequent sanitizes their tools and equipment after every use or use of disposables.
Sandy Getzky is the executive coordinating editor at The Global Nail Fungus Organization, a group committed to helping the 100+ million people suffering from finger and toenail fungus. Sandy is also a registered Herbalist and member of the American Herbalist’s Guild.