Fall is the perfect time for some TLC for your nails.

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After a summer of beach time and wandering around barefoot, your nails might be in need of attention. As manicure and pedicure season comes to a close, its time to start thinking of a fungal treatment—we know you’d rather not talk about—especially for those toenails. Fungal infections can easily hide under a layer of pretty polish, so they are easier to miss in the summer months. Fall is the perfect time to treat a fungal infection, since our feet get to be swaddled in cute, stylish boots—no one will know! To start healing from the inside out, take care to eat lots of protein rich foods, like red meats, spinach and legumes.

Nail fungus accounts for 33 per cent of all fungal infections of the skin, and about 50 per cent of all nail diseases, so it’s important to tackle the issue in a timely manner. Over the counter treatments like Emtrix ($39.99, pharmacies and emtrix.ca), can be used to treat infections to make your nails look less yellow and become stronger.

Samantha Bolger, Emtrix specialist, urges that first and foremost we keep our nails dry and clean to prevent bacteria and fungus from growing under the nail. Wear cotton-lined rubber gloves when washing, cleaning, or using harsh chemicals. “To prevent nail damage, don't use your fingernails as tools to pick, poke or pry things. Don’t bite your fingernails or pick at your cuticles, as these habits can damage the nail bed. Even a minor cut alongside your fingernail can allow bacteria or fungi to enter and cause an infection. Don’t pull off hangnails! You might rip live tissue off along with the hangnail itself,” she says. Not that we were excited about ripping off hangnails in the first place—ouch!

For those that love acrylic and gel nails, there is good news! When asked if artificial nails increase the risk of a fungal infection, Bolger says “Not necessarily, although visiting a nail salon on a regular basis could increase the risk of a nail fungal infection[if their sanitary measures aren’t up to par that is]. The salon must ensure that the tools they use are clean and the pedicure baths are sanitized.” Make sure you feel comfortable speaking up if you feel like your nail technician isn’t using clean tools, or better yet, find somewhere new to go.

Fungal infections may not be the topic of conversation at your next cocktail party, but it's important to take care of the issue so that the infection doesn't spread or worsen. 

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