One Downside of a Hot Summer
When it’s hot outside, your feet are probably low on your list of priorities: sunscreen—check; sunglasses—check; sunhat—check; and water—check.
If you’re heading to the beach, you may add sandals or flip-flops to that list. And, if you’re trying to beat the heat by getting your exercise in early, you will probably grab your socks and sneakers, lace up, and head out the door. Each person’s summer routine is different, but the truth of the matter is that when it’s hot outside, most of us are on the go.
It’s at times like these that our feet suffer. All that heat and activity causes us to sweat and the likelihood of acquiring a fungal infection increases. Fungal spores are usually present on the skin of even the healthiest of feet, but good hygiene prevents them from becoming a problem.
When feet are neglected, not washed or not aired often enough, the fungal spores multiply. Your skin may peel and an itchy rash may develop on the skin or between the toes; this is known as tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot. If an over-zealous pedicure caused your cuticles to lift or split around your nails, fungal spores may infect the nails; this condition is known as onychomycosis, or fungal nails.
Although fungal nails are not painful, they can be unsightly. The nails becomes white, yellow or brown, and can thicken, flake, or crumble. A lab test by a professional like podiatrist, Sheldon H. Nadal, D.P.M., will provide an accurate diagnosis to decide upon the best treatment option.
Conservative treatments for minor infections include over-the-counter anti-fungal ointments; however, these are not very effective. Fungal nails can be difficult to cure. Prescription oral anti-fungal medication has a relatively high success rate, but can have some undesirable side effects. Laser treatment has been used successfully for several years; preliminary studies showed significant improvement in 75-80 per cent of cases.
As always, prevention is better than a cure and fungal infections can be avoided by following good foot hygiene advice, by wearing flip-flops in communal showers, and by avoiding unscrupulous nail salons.