Summer feet: The risk of nail infections, from fake nails to public pools

Nail infections can lead to more serious health issues – especially for the five million Brits living with diabetes – and according to a new report, a quarter of us have one.

Pink strappy heels

New research has revealed that a staggering 25% of the UK population suffer from nail infections. More worryingly only 11% know they have a nail infection, and a scary 89% of sufferers don’t know that a nail infection is. That’s according to the new report published by Excilor.

Fungal nail infections can have a real impact on sufferer’s day-to-day lives. Of those questioned on the Excilor real world poll, 52% said that the pain was the worst thing about a nail infection and a third (32%) said they were embarrassed about having a nail infection. As well as the pain and shame experienced by those surveyed, it also has a significant impact upon other areas of a sufferer’s life, with over half (57%) saying that a nail infection has stopped them from wearing open-toed shoes and 56% revealing that it stopped them from going swimming and being active.

GP and top foot expert Dr Gill Jenkins explains: “Fungal nail infections are notoriously hard to get rid of without treatment and they can cause pain, swelling and itchiness. For many sufferers, these painful symptoms have an impact on their lives making it harder to be active on a daily basis. Not only does a painful foot stop you from exercising, but it often makes it hard to fall asleep too.”

Fast treatment is key because fungal nail infections are contagious between feet, hands and between people. Dr Gill Jenkins warns: “Should you be unlucky enough to get an infection you need to treat it as soon as possible. They are often incredibly contagious, so contagious in fact, that even touching the feet, and then touching other parts of the body, can cause the fungus to spread.”

Data from the new Excilor report shows what a challenge a fungal nail infection can have on the health of nails and people’s feet. Of those surveyed:

  • 36% said they had a hardening and thickening of the nail
  • 36% had toe pain
  • 36% had red skin around the nail
  • 30% said they had pus
  • In 23% of cases the nails had separated from the nail bed.

How to prevent a fungal nail infection infection from spreading

Pharmacist Noel Wicks and part of the Excilor expert hub warns that we need to keep on top of our foot health in case of complications down the line. There are now five million people living with diabetes in the UK, and they need to be even more wary of nail infections, as these can lead to more serious health issues such as foot ulcers. He explains: “Common signs of a fungal nail infection are discolouration and the hardening and thickening of the nail in question. In most cases, fungal nail infections tend to look unhygienic. The infection usually starts at the rim of the nail, which changes colour to whitish-yellow, brown or green.”

He adds: “As the fungus develops, it grows under or into the nail causing the nail plate to thicken and crumble. This can sometimes cause the nail to partially detach, or sometimes, come off completely. However, treatment should be implemented early to avoid this level of fungus development from occurring. If not treated these infections can lead to further complications such as permanent loss of the nail, a resurgence of the infection and even in extreme cases a spread of infection to other areas of the body, or even the bloodstream. If not addressed fungal nail infections can actually last for years.”

Lower your risk of fungal nail infections

Most of us completely forget about foot hygiene but staying on top of it can help keep nasty infections at bay. Use a nail brush to keep the tops of nails clean as well as underneath the nails. Be sure to trim nails regularly and keep them neat and smooth.

Communal areas like swimming pools and changing rooms in the gym are fertile ground for fungi. Those that cause conditions such as nail infections, warts and verrucae, thrive on moist surfaces so keeping things dry is best. On wet public floors always wear flip flops to keep feet dry and off the floor.

Step up: simple treatment options

There are some obvious signs and symptoms which indicate that our feet have developed a foot condition.  “Look for abnormalities and changes, and then act on them,” says Dr Gill Jenkins. She adds that things to look for include hardened skin, discolouration of nails, loose nails, itchy skin and flaking skin.

If you are unfortunate enough to get a nail infection, then treat it fast with one of Excilor’s clinically-backed products. The Excilor Solution can offer visible results on fungal nail infections from two weeks on and takes just one minute a day.  It’s also available in a convenient pen format. For more severe infections, Excilor Ultra offers an extra strong formula.

Dr Gill Jenkins adds: “Like the new Excilor research has revealed, many people don’t know that they have nail infections so do be alert to any changes to your foot health.” Treating these fungal conditions with products such as those in the clinically backed Excilor range, will help you get back on track faster, so you can live more comfortably. They combine an effective solution with ease of use and have been proven to deliver significant improvements in 92% of patients combining an effective solution with ease of use.[3]

Noel Wicks continues: “For mild cases, try the Excilor Nail Fungus Treatment Solution which stops the fungal nail infection from progressing. You’ll see visible results from two weeks onwards and the product helps to rebuild the damaged nail structure, allowing them to grow back healthier and stronger. As a result, the nails are less likely to get infected again.”

For more persistent fungal nail infections Noel Wicks recommends the Excilor Nail Fungus Treatment Solution Ultra. “This powerful solution will brighten, smooth, and strengthen the nail immediately, as well as protect it against future infections. There is also an Excilor nail fungus treatment pen which makes the solution even easier to apply when you’re constantly on the move. Pop this handy pen into your bag in the morning and you’ll be good to go!” notes Noel.

All of the Excilor products are enriched with glycerol, nail care lipids and biotin so they serve to boost nail health at the same time as fighting against infections. The patented Trans Active Technology™️ allows the solution to penetrate the nail fast and effectively. Dr Gill Jenkins explains: “Each product in the range is designed to penetrate the nail thereby ensuring the nail is treated from the inside out. The solution immediately lowers the pH of the nail, creating an environment that is hostile to fungal growth, but do be aware that the damaged nail needs time to grow out so it may take a month or more for the nail to look completely healthy.”

To treat a fungal nail infection with an Excilor solution first clean the nail and remove any nail polish. Coat the nail and the underside of the nail rim with the product and allow it to dry out before putting your socks or shoes back on. Apply the solution to the infected area twice a day. For best results, treat the infected area for a minimum of three months. It is best to continue the course of treatment until the nail has recovered completely.

How can you avoid getting fungal nail infections?
Prevention is always better than cure and there are some simple precautions you can take to lower your risk of getting a fungal nail infection. As Dr Gill Jenkins tells us:

#1 Keep nails clean and trim them regularly

#2 Avoid wearing shoes that make your feet sweat

#3 Don’t share towels, flannels, bedlinen, socks or shoes with other people

#4 Avoid wearing fake nails

#5 Instead of going barefoot, wear flip-flops in communal areas like the swimming pool or sauna

What other tips can boost foot health?
As we step into summer, our feet will be more on show. Noel Wicks shares the following tips for healthy feet:

#1 No one wants smelly feet! Keep them clean by washing them once a day and don’t forget to dry them between the toes to avoid getting Athlete’s foot

#2 Wear socks made from at least 70 per cent cotton so your feet can breathe and avoid nylon tights or stockings

#3 Are your shoes starting to smell? Kill the bacteria by cleaning them with surgical spirit and cotton wool

#4 Once a month give your nails a break from polish for anything between a few days to a week to help boost their health

#5 Ditch heels for supportive trainers or shoes – this will be better for your feet and your posture!

Editor’s choice

Dreem Distillery CBD Bed Balm

Dreem Distillery CBD Bed Balm, £75

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AKL The Deodorant Balm SC.05

AKL The Deodorant Balm SC.05, £19

AKT’s newest scent, Columbia Road, is fitting for festival season. Inspired by Columbia Road Flower Market, the scent notes include zesty lemon, cut stems, iris, amber and tonka bean. Not just a pretty product, this hardworking natural deodorant isn’t limited to underarms only. Feel free to apply anywhere you need effective protection – common hot spots include feet, forehead, and chest, to name a few. 


Featured image by @badgalriri

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