Fungi are everywhere, but you can take steps to prevent them from infecting your nails. Prevention is especially important after you’ve been treated for a fungal nail infection, as the recurrence rate is high.
Basic tips for practicing good nail hygiene:
- Keep your hands and feet dry. Towel yourself off thoroughly after swimming, bathing, or showering—including between your toes.
- Keep your nails short and clean. Trim your toenails straight across.
- Don’t pick at the skin around your nails. Those cracks are just invitations for fungi to enter.
- Wear absorbent socks—ones that wick moisture away from your feet. And change your socks frequently.
- Remove your shoes whenever possible, but especially after exercising. Wear open-toe shoes when appropriate.
- Use an antifungal spray or powder in your shoes.
- Wear flip-flops or other shoes when visiting public showers, gyms, and swimming areas.
- Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes or doing other tasks that require putting your hands in water. Be sure, though, to dry the gloves thoroughly by turning them inside out.
- Don’t share nail clippers, nail files, shoes, or socks.
- If you get manicures and pedicures, make sure the salon you patronize sterilizes its instruments between customers—or, better yet, bring your own instruments.