(HealthDay News) -- Fungal toenail infections can linger for years without causing pain or another reason to seek treatment. But infected nails can turn thick, discolored or brittle, which could be embarrassing.

The American Podiatric Medical Association suggests how to help prevent a fungal foot infection in the first place:

  • Wash your feet with water and soap, then dry them thoroughly.
  • Inspect the feet and toes regularly, looking for cracked or itchy skin.
  • Don't go barefoot in a public shower or sauna. Wear a pair of flip flops or sandals.
  • Change your socks and shoes more than once daily.
  • Keep toenails trimmed straight across.
  • Wear properly-fitting shoes that are made of breathable materials, and skip very tight hosiery.
  • Wear socks made of synthetic materials, rather than cotton or wool, to help draw moisture away from the skin.
  • Regularly disinfect any clippers or scissors used to care for the feet.
  • Don't use nail polish if you suspect a possible fungal nail infection.