A strong will and determination make athletes excel in their respective careers, but unfortunately, varied types of dermatosis can hold them back. Unexpected sports conditions combined with harsh environment give birth to bacteria and fungi, which results in various bacterial and fungal skin infections. Toenail fungus is also a kind of fungal skin infection, which, affects either the toenail or fingernail. After a tough match athletes can recover from an injury, but, it becomes a little complicated to cure a contagious and dreadful toenail infection.
Let’s understand what causes toenail fungus and what should be done to prevent it.
Reasons causing Toenail Fungus:
Dermatophyte is the name of the fungus, which causes toenail infection. These are microscopic organisms who don’t need an airy and sunny environment to sustain. These fungi live in warm and moist areas such as swimming pool, locker rooms and bathrooms. Moist places are ideal for them to survive and grow. If you have a cut or wound, it is a perfect passage for the fungus to invade your skin. This infection can cause acute pain, if your nails are frequently exposed to moist conditions.
As you know, toenail fungus is active in moist environment such as locker rooms, swimming pools and can also be present on the floor and carpets. Unfortunately direct contact with fungus can make you infected. If you are walking barefoot or wearing wet socks, then there are chances of getting infected. An infection caused by fungi underneath the surface of the nail can make a progressive change in the color and quality of the nail. And, it can even make walking painful.
Diminished Blood Circulation
It is seen that an athlete’s lifestyle is more hard and unstable, for example, sitting and standing for too long without any movement often leads to poor circulation. Reduced blood circulation can cause leg numbness, painful cramping of the muscles and change in skin color of the legs. This reason is also a major cause of slower toenail growth. Improper blood circulation to the toes can make the toes more vulnerable.
A pair of tight shoes not letting the air in, is a perfect home for fungal growth. The microorganism resides in warm, moist place. Sweaty, tight fitting shoes make a perfect home for them, encouraging their growth. Too tight and unbreathable socks can also be the reason for your toenail skin infection. This causes scaling and burning sensation.
Here are a few tips to get rid of toenail fungus:
The first and foremost thing athletes can do to keep this infection at a distance is maintaining hygiene. Regardless of the nature of your sport, what you wear, just by incorporating this practice, you can prevent toenail fungus. Wash your hands and feet immediately after and before playing a sport or working out. Make sure you bath with antibacterial body soap to nullify the risk of an infection. Wear clean and washed clothes. Discard old socks and shoes. Never share your personal belongings. Avoid going barefoot to public areas such as locker rooms, showers or sauna. Keep your toes clean and dry. Trim them at regular intervals.
Wear moisture wicking socks
Fabrics which are not effective at wicking away moisture are perfect hosts for infections. So, next time you wear socks, make sure your socks are sweat absorbent. Fabrics effective at absorbing moisture are: nylon, wool and polypropylene. Take off your shoes, air them regularly to get rid of sweat. Make sure you change your socks and shoes soon after performing a sport or exercise. Sprinkle antifungal powder inside your socks and shoes before wearing to prevent microbial growth. Don’t wear the same shoes every day..
To keep your body free of infections, you need to be more attentive and conscious about your surroundings. Disinfect your workout equipments before you use them. These machines easily transfer germs from one person to another. So, before working out, make sure your machine is sanitized and not carrying any harmful microorganism. Make it a habit to scrub your shower on alternate days.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil owns anti-bacterial, fungicidal and antiseptic properties, which makes it a natural disinfectant. All these properties are helpful in preventing the fungus from growing and spreading. As soon as you notice the signs of toenail fungus, prepare a salve at home. Directions: Take 1 tbsp of tea tree oil and mix it with orange oil or olive oil. Soak a cotton ball, dip it in the salve till it absorbs the oil properly and then apply it to the affected area. Alternatively, you can gently massage the area with tea tree oil after a shower or before going to the bed. Regular use of the oil will relieve you of the pain and help in curing the infection.
It is better to look for preventive measures rather than undergoing treatment. Athletes are aware of their work conditions and know it that they are more prone to infections as compared to others. So, it becomes their responsibility to keep themselves clean and healthy. Remember, do not ignore the infection and contact a medical practitioner immediately.