Well, I have. And not just once.
The humid conditions in Singapore where I live makes it a hotbed for nail fungus to grow. However, this is a topic most people shy away from. I remember curling my toes in all self consciousness (after I finally had the courage to wear open-toed shoes), hoping nobody will ever catch sight of my thick, ugly, yellow nails.
Like some friends, I took to applying a dark polish over my nails to hide the conditions especially during special occasions when I need to dress up or visit a friend’s place. (In our culture, we remove our footwear before stepping into the house) Most times I simply wear closed shoes which made the fungal conditions worse.
I've never quite nailed down exactly where and how I contracted the nail fungus each time it happens. The few likely suspects are when I walked bare footed at the pool or waterpark and its bathing area, the time when my toenails were too long and got bruised in my jogging shoes, or possibly the time when I did my nails during a Bangkok trip or at that new salon I was trying out.
“Do you know you have toenail fungus? And it's spreading to the next toe,” is a familiar question I get when I visit the nail salon for a pedicure. I love the squeaky clean feeling on my nails and feet after every pedi session...the good nail technicians do such an amazing job that it feels as though your feet has just reborn.
But at the same time, when the nail technician raise to my knowledge that I have again contracted nail fungus, I feel bad knowing that the same tools used on me would be used on the next person. While the standards of sterilization is generally high in Singapore, the risk of spreading my nail fungus to another person still exists. So I always make it a point to visit salons where I am confident of their hygiene standards, so it weighs lesser on my conscience.
HEIGHTENED AWARENESS ON IMPORTANCE OF NAIL HYGIENE AT SALONS
In the recent years, I've seen more nail salon patrons bringing their own bag of nail tools, or even leaving their personal “nail bag” at their regular salons so they do not have to use the communal tools at the salons. Perhaps they’ve had very similar experiences.
Driven by consumer demand for higher standards of hygiene, some proactive salons started to introduce new practices, e.g. using disposable emery files / toe separators (that they dispose of or give to the customer) or storing sterilized tools in a sealed packet which is opened in front of the consumer before being used on them. All for reassuring their customers that their mani and pedi experience will be a positive one with no concern for nail infection.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU CONTRACT NAIL FUNGAL
Thankfully, each of my infection hasn't been serious (fingers crossed), and I could recover from them after using topical over-the-counter antifungal nail treatment such as EmoniNail and trying other natural remedies. It just takes time and patience. It is honestly not easy to be diligent with applying the antifungal solutions, and the solutions have to be applied correctly for them to reach the nail bed before they can be effective. Just remind yourself that it is a battle against time so that the fungal does not spread to the other toes. The extra few minutes a day is time well spent.
I've also heard horror nail infection stories such as that of people rushing to A&E after coming back from overseas vacations as their digits have become so swollen after a USD5 manicure. The upfront price is definitely tempting, but the price to pay afterwards is the scary one. And it could happen to anyone.
If you are not as fortunate as me or has been battling a nail fungal issue but is yet to find a permanent solution, then the best route would be to visit a trusted podiatrist or a dermatologist to ascertain the strain and severity of your nail fungus, so the exact remedy can be prescribed.
I wouldn't say that I am now totally safe from nail fungus. But being more conscious of the potential sources of nail fungus and guarding against them definitely cuts my risk of nail fungal or other even more serious infections significantly. For one, I now use my own, personal nail kit - The Nail Edition Pro Classic for every mani and pedi sessions. And I make sure that I only visit trusted nail salons that adhere to stringent hygiene standards. I’m not going to spread my nail fungus to anyone, and neither am I keen to get it again!
With healthy nails, I can enjoy beautifully manicured and pedicured nails whenever I choose to, without any compromise or guilt.
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