Fungal skin infections are in the top ten most prevalent infections worldwide. That’s because fungi are ever-present in our environment and they’re part of the natural flora of our skin. Some circumstances and activities can cause the overgrowth of certain fungi which lead to fungal skin and nail infections. In addition, fungal infections are contagious, so they can pass from one site of the body to the other. They can also pass from person to person through skin to skin contact, through clothes or through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects.
Good hygiene practices can help reduce the risk of fungal infections, stop recurring fungal infections and also prevent the spreading around your body or to others.
Keeping your skin clean and dry is the most important prevention tip. Wearing clean clothes and washing your clothes, sheets and towels regularly also help prevent the infections.
Shoes and socks
- Avoid walking barefoot in public changing rooms, showers and pools – wear flip-flops or sandals
- Take your shoes off at home to let your feet 'breathe'
- Wear sandals when you can
- Wear shoes that fit your feet and toes properly - high heels and narrow-toed shoes can damage the natural skin seal between your nail and the skin underneath, allowing fungus to invade under the nail
- Wear clean socks every day, change them if it’s hot or after playing sports
- Opt for cotton, silk, or wool socks rather than synthetic ones
Foot and nail care
- Do not use the same nail accessories or tools for normal and infected nails – buy two sets to prevent contamination
- Look after your toenails – keep them trimmed and clean. Nails should be cut or filed straight across (not rounded or in a V shape)
- Bring your own nail treatment accessories to your salon, including scissors, clippers, files, shaving tools and buffers
- Make sure the tools at your nail salon are properly cleaned and sterilised between clients
Preventing fungal infections from spreading
Fungal infections are highly contagious, but simple hygiene habits can go a long way to prevent spreading to other parts of your body or to others. Firstly, if you do have a fungal infection, it’s best to let others who come into contact with you know so that they can be extra vigilant themselves. Here are some other steps you can take:
- Wash and dry your hands thoroughly after contact with the infected part or applying your treatment
- Do not share clothes, shoes, towels or bed sheets
- Remember to use different towels for the infected area and the rest of your body
Hygiene when you are suffering from a fungal infection
When you are suffering from a fungal infection, the affected parts of your body can often be quite sore or tender. Try to keep your skin cool and exposed to air. Ensure you stay clean but avoid over-washing as it can irritate your skin. Afterwards, try to pat yourself dry rather than rubbing – rubbing could damage your skin and spread your infection. You can try using antibacterial soaps as these can sometimes help alleviate some symptoms such as odour. It’s best to avoid wearing clothes that rub against your skin that may irritate sensitive areas and ‘breathable ’materials such as cotton is best.