Treatment And Prevention
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Treatment Of Fungal Infections
Because it is difficult to treat or eradicate toenail fungus, it is a good idea to try to prevent it. It helps to wear protective shoes or sandals in public showers, pool areas and gyms, and to avoid borrowing someone else's shoes or sharing socks or towels with someone who has toenail fungus.
Wash your feet regularly, and dry them thoroughly when they get wet. Wearing nail polish on the toes is not advised because it can seal in fungus and allow it to grow. Keep toenails trimmed, and be sure to disinfect any pedicure tools before using them.
If you do develop toenail fungus, see your Podiatrist. The Podiatrist may remove as much of the nail as possible by trimming, filing or dissolving it. Medicated nail polish might be prescribed for a localized infection, but a serious infection will likely be treated with a prescription oral antifungal medication. These medications can have side effects, so be sure to work closely with your doctor on your treatment plan. Only in severe cases will surgical removal of the nail be recommended.
If you suspect that you have toenail fungus, see your foot doctor.
Management Of Fungal Nail Infections
Prevalence studies indicate that onychomycosis is common, affecting approximately 50% of the population. Dermatophyte fungi particularly Trichophyton rubrum, cause the majority of toenail fungal nail infections and the usual route of infection is direct spread from web space infection (athletes foot).
The disease is an insidious one commencing on one toenail and progressively involving other nails over a long period, often years. In 20% of patients the fingernails can also be involved and this has to be differentiated from the more common fingernail problem of chronic paronychio in which yeast colonisation plays a role.
To prevent fungal nail infection we have paint for your nails, spray for your shoes and cream for your feet.
Treatment For Athlete's Foot
Athlete's foot is the most common fungal infection of the skin, infecting 21% of the UK adult population - it's name, tinea pedis, means gnawing worm! It's an infection caused by dermatophytes, of which the most common is trichophyton rubrum. These fungi thrive in hot, moist conditions. Often painful and unpleasant, symptoms can include itching, burning and cracking of the skin between the toes, and even the sole or heel of the foot. In acute cases, the fungus can cause blisters, ulcers and weeping.
Spores from the fungus are spread via microscopic skin particles shed by the body everyday - it's therefore a highly communicable disease. Among the most common ways to become infected are walking barefoot in bathrooms, on infected floors (which is why many sufferers are those that frequent gyms and swimming pools) and sharing shoes, socks or towels. Wearing shoes constantly also provides an ideal breeding ground for the fungi.
How Big A Problem Is Athlete's Foot?
21% of the UK population M0.9 million) suffers from athletes foot' - that's more than one in five.
Of this, number half aren't even aware they suffer, so over 5.5 million people may be innocently spreading the fungus.
Most people (70% suffer in the Spring/Summer with a quarter having five to ten attacks a year)
60% of sufferers are men - although women tend to purchase the most treatments!
Athletes foot affects a wide population - from teenagers to the late middle aged.
Risk is shown to increase with age in both men and women.
People with diabetes, obesity and heart problems (i.e. with poor circulation), and those involved in sports are more susceptible to the infection.'
64% of sufferers are between the ages of 25 and 55
Most current treatments available over the counter are known as fungistatic - meaning they inhibit or 'stun' the fungus. In order to get rid of the infection, especially severe infections, some fungistatic medications require a treatment period of up to four weeks, or should be applied for at least a few days after symptoms have disappeared.
Since most sufferers tend to stop treatment when symptoms disappear - in fact 51% of sufferers' treat for one week or less.
1 NOP 2000
2 TGI 2000
3 MRC Omnibus 1997
The Patients Perspective
A recent survey by Novartis Consumer Health has revealed that athlete's foot, despite being a common problem affecting one in five in the UK, can actually be a debilitating condition in many respects and remains a social stigma!
Many believe athlete's foot can affect a sufferer's social life:
67% of those surveyed claimed that they would not go swimming.
30% would opt out of sport altogether.
One in four said they wouldn't sunbathe when infected.
63% would avoid luxuries such as the sauna/steam room.
Eight one per cent of people find athlete's foot embarrassing - not surprising given 85% of people believe bad hygiene to be a trigger for the fungal infection - and in Europe the condition can be translated to mean 'foot mushrooms'!
Twenty nine per cent don't know what athlete's foot is - although some will almost certainly have had the condition - and 22% do not think its contagious - leading many to unknowingly infect others, including their families.
Indicating a need for public education about athlete's foot and effective treatment, 32% of people think once you have athlete's foot you have it for life!
Cultural differences also show up with regards to feet - more than a third of Europeans admit to being 'turned on' by feet whereas only 9% of people in the UK feel the same way.
Eighty five per cent of people say that feet with the condition are unpleasant to look at!
The Human foot was designed to travel on soft, natural surfaces like earth. We now spend every day walking and standing on unnatural hard, flat surfaces like pavements and floors.
These surfaces force our feet to roll over to gain ground contact and our arches to flatten. Rolling over of the foot - or "Excess Pronation" is believed to affect over 50% of the population!
Interestingly, although the foot rolls inwards, often the shoe will wear excessively on the outside edge of theheel. This is because the foot normally 'lands' on the outside edge first and consequently rolls over causing excess pronation as a compensatory motion.
Just like the tyres on a car, poor alignment of the feet can cause wear and tear to other parts of the body. "Excess Pronation" often disrupts normal knee function and hip alignment and increases forces on the muscles in the lower back. Subsequently, "Excess Pronation" can cause a wide range of common complaints.
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