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updated: 12/19/2010 9:08 AM

Toenail fungus plaguing -- even in the winter

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Q. I often have a problem with toenail fungus in the summertime, but it's understandable because I spend a lot of time at our town pool and in the locker room afterward so I can change out of my bathing suit. This I have learned to accept.

I live in the upper northwest section of the country, and I have the start of another fungal infection. This is the first time this has happened during the winter, and I am totally confused as to why. Our pool is closed until warm weather returns, and I'm in my home, which I thought was safe from the problem. I was wrong. Can you shed some light on this annoying problem?

A. You're not the first person with this complaint. We tend to forget that damp, cold weather can also trigger just such an infection. I'm sure you have already pulled your winter boots out of the closet and have worn them. It's cold. We don't stop to think that our feet are cozy and warm sometimes sweating when we have the heat on in the car during travel or when simply walking around the block. The warmth and moisture combine to set the stage for such a problem to occur.

You might consider trimming your nail and applying a petrolatum menthol salve to the top and underside twice daily. The process may take a month or more, but a healthy nail should ultimately grow out, replacing the yellow discoloration you are likely experiencing.

Some people achieve success by either dabbing a cotton ball with white vinegar or simply pouring the liquid over the affected area twice daily. Again, patience is necessary for results.

If you would like to investigate another avenue, there are a number of over-the-counter remedies, including Miranel, found at Walgreens pharmacies. I personally know people who have used this over-the-counter antifungal successfully for the specific problem you are experiencing. It contains miconazole ointment, tea tree oil and a host of other effective ingredients. Miranel can also be used to treat ringworm, athlete's foot and the irritation that can appear between the toes.

Consider one of my recommendations and be sure to follow up with treatment in the future at the first sign of infection.

2010, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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