Military service brings with it a long list of problems. From aches and pains to strange conditions from foreign lands, many issue go overlooked, such as the sudden onset of nail fungus. Although it isn't the absolute worst problem that could befall a military veteran, if you have the chance to take care of it, do what you can to be as healthy as possible. Consider a few causes of nail fungus and what you can do to solve the problem.
What Could Cause Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus (Onychomycosis)--like most other types of fungus--thrive in dark, damp places. If you've served in the military, you've got the perfect place for fungus to grow. Military boots offer a dark place for fungus to grow and are insulated in such a way that the fungus can thrive in a warm, moist environment. Especially during modern conflicts that involve hotter climates such as the Middle East, a lot of sweating in hot weather with insulated boots can lead to a fungus overgrowth.
Even if you take care of your feet as best as possible, doing your job may cause you to keep your boots on and your toes damp long enough for the problem to take root. Nail fungus can grow in cuts that may be too small for you to see--or any separation of the skin, such as breaking from dryness or erosion from being damp too long.
The fungus can also grow between the nail and the nailbed (the skin next to the nail). Ventilated boots may seem like the solution to the problem and can help in some cases, but they may introduce more moisture from the outside.
In the Navy and Marine Corps where communal showers are a part of everyday life, there's an added risk of fungal infection and other skin hazards by not wearing shower shoes or exposing your feet to the floor where many other service-members of varying cleanliness could have been.
Civilian Fungus Treatment and VA Coverage Can Help
Nail fungus isn't easy to diagnose. Although there are a few over-the-counter products and generic medication options available, you may need a specific treatment that matches your body's unique chemistry and that of the fungus.
Get in contact with a nail fungus treatment professional and explain your situation. By explaining that you're a veteran, you can arrange for an examination that can detail your fungal problem. Simply take the medical professional's examination results to Veterans Affairs (VA) and ask for help with the fungus problem. The VA can refer you to the professional as long as you qualify for VA medical benefits.
If you're receiving VA disability, you already qualify for the assistance. If not, most veterans who were discharged with an honorable or other-than-dishonorable discharge can apply for the benefits, which can be low cost or no cost depending on your income level.
The fungus may be indicative of bigger problems. If you're suffering from other issues that affect your work and personal life, file a VA claim with the medical professional's information as supporting evidence. Get in contact with a nail fungus professional like Oregon Foot Clinic to begin assessing your foot condition and working towards reliable treatment.