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Just because you’re stuffing your feet into closed-toe shoes now that temperatures have dropped, doesn’t mean you should forget about your tootsies. Fall is actually a great time to assess the health of your nails and, more importantly, check for and treat possible fungus. We turned to Samantha Bolger, Product Manager and Emtrix Specialist at Paladin Labs, to learn more about nail fungus.

TL: Is it likely that one could have nail fungus and not know?
SB: It is possible, especially in the early stages of the infection.

TL: After a summer of nail polish and pedicures, what should one look for once the polish comes off?
SB: Toenail and fingernail fungus can attack one or more of your nails and usually begins with a white or yellow spot under a nail. As the fungus spreads deeper into the nail, the nail becomes increasingly thick and discoloured. You likely have a nail fungal infection if one or more of your nails are:

  • Thickened
  • Brittle, crumbly or ragged
  • Distorted in shape
  • Dull — with no lustre or shine
  • A dark colour — the result of debris accumulated under your nail
  • Separated from the nail bed — a condition known as onycholysis, which may cause pain in your toes or fingertips and be accompanied by a slightly foul odour

TL: Should a pedicurist notice and mention nail fungus?
SB: This is not necessarily for us to say, but it is often appreciated when anyone dealing with your foot health (doctor, dermatologist, podiatrist, pedicurist) alerts you to any issues you may have that you have not yet noticed yourself. Some salons will not accept to work with people who have nail fungus, as the risk of spreading the infection to other customers is too high. But again, this is the salon or pedicurist’s choice and not something that we necessarily advocate for.

TL: Is nail fungus contagious?
SB: It is. One of the major risk factors for contracting nail fungus is walking barefoot in damp public places (e.g., swimming pools, locker rooms, public showers) where others could have spread the fungus.

TL: What’s the worst-case scenario if nail fungus is left untreated?
SB: In the worst case, the nail can fall off, there can be a lot of pain and suffering, including trouble walking and dealing with daily tasks and activities. This can also significantly affect a person’s confidence, and it can become an emotional condition to deal with for many.

While there are multiple ways to treat nail fungus, a topical solution like Emtrix (which is applied to the nail daily and banishes fungus in two to four weeks) is the easiest. Other solutions include prescription topical treatments and antibiotic drugs. So check your fingers and toes immediately and if you suspect you have nail fungus, treat the infection right away. If over-the-counter treatments aren’t effective and the fungus persists, visit your family physician.

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