Do 1 in 5 people have nail fungus? How common experts say the condition is, and how you can prevent it
Published Tuesday, October 22, 2019 4:35PM CST
WINNIPEG -- Nail fungus is more common than we think . It's a condition affecting one in five Canadians according to nailfungus.ca.
Canadians are being directed to the site through a recent Baucsh Health advertisement, showing a boy trying to attack his father’s monster toe nail. The dad is later told by a doctor that it’s an infection and he needs a prescription.
Executive Director of the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance, Rachael Manion said the actual rate of nail fungus in Canada isn’t known.
“Our best information tells us that eight per cent of Canadians have nail fungus,” she told CTV News. “It’s a bit of a tricky number because not all patients who have a nail fungus will seek treatment so we expect that number is actually a lot higher. We expect that it’s really about one in five people who live with nail fungus.”
But that’s an estimate, Manion said there is a deficit of dermatological statistics in Canada.
“This isn’t something that is picked up in regular Statistics Canada surveys of health in our population and so when were looking to get a sense of what the picture is in Canada we’ll often extrapolate either from surveys from western countries or other areas of the world to our population,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll also look at studies that have been done in a specific region in the country and extrapolate that to the Canadian population at large.”
Winnipeg dermatologist Dr. Victoria Taraska says a person can get nail fungus a few different ways, like contracting it from someone else, having sweaty feet, wearing damp socks, or even from a pedicure where tools weren’t properly sterilized.
“A lot of people don’t even bring it to the attention of their doctor because if its mild and it doesn’t bother them they don’t necessarily talk about it or ask about it or even realize that it is a fungus,” said Taraska.
She added that there is a low communicability, comparing it to a wart.
If you have concerns, Taraska said to bring it up with your doctor, especially people with diabetes or anyone with a compromised immune system, because the potential for infection or other complications is much higher.
“Every diabetic should be watching and monitoring their feet,” she said. “For a healthy individual you have to look at if it really bothers you cosmetically and then if you’re having other issues like jock itch or foot fungus then you may want to treat the source so you aren’t having those other problems.”
If you do seek treatment, you will also need to be patient, she added.
“Toenails can be harder because it's harder to penetrate into to toenail area, so the nails can be a little more difficult compared to fungi on our body to clear.”
Manion said it’s in everyone’s best interest to have your doctor look at it and get it treated as soon as you can.
“It could be an infection or in some cases it might be a bit of a window into another condition that your body is dealing with.”