Toenail Fungus (Onychomycosis)

Fungal infections are common on both toenails and fingernails. Toenail fungus is a living organism which nests and feeds in areas of the body that are damp and dark like under or around the nails. Toes are more susceptible to fungal infection because shoes are usually dark and damp environments which are extremely favorable areas for the fungus to thrive.

In more serious cases, the nails can become dingy and take on a brownish or yellowish discoloration. The affected nail may also thicken or become brittle, and might even shed. The nails might also develop crumbling edges and can be unsightly, embarrassing, and even painful.

The nail actually provides a protective barrier that protects the fungus and allows it to grow underneath. Buildup of keratinous debris can usually be found underneath the free edge of the nail.

Picture of Toenail Fungus

colorado foot institute toenail fungus

Toenail Fungus Symptoms

Warning signs of nail infection can be nail plates with a cloudy, thickened, or yellow appearance. Nails may become crumbly and rough, or even separate themselves from the nail bed. The fungus is usually not accompanied by pain unless the condition is severe.

A complication of long-term nail fungus infection may be dermatophytids. Dermatophytids are non-fungal lesions that may appear as a result of a fungal infection in other areas of the body. This could manifest itself as a rash or itch in parts of the body that are not afflicted by the fungus. Dermatophytids are akin to an allergic reaction caused by the fungal infection.

Toenail Fungus Cause

Toenail fungus is contagious and often found in warm, moist places. Similar to athlete’s foot it is spread person to person through these mediums, and it can live on these surfaces for extended periods between hosts.

Several things can make people more susceptible to toenail fungus. Activities that cause people to frequently submerge their hands in water increase risk…especially if they have prior infection or trauma in their nails. Anyone with a newly formed a nail or compromised immune system is also at increased risk of developing toenail fungus.

Toenail Fungus Prevention

Toenail fungus thrives in moist, warm areas. This includes public spas, locker rooms, swimming pools, or showers. The fungus can live on tile floors or in warm puddles, lying in wait for someone to pick up the spores. Swimming shoes, sandals, shower shoes both help to prevent direct contact with the fungus. After a session at a wet public area such as a pool or locker room it is advised you wash and dry them thoroughly.

Here are some effective prevention methods:

  • Wear all-natural cotton socks
  • Refrain from using nail polish until the fungus is gone
  • Wear breathable shoes
  • Do not wash your clothes with others
  • Do not share towels
  • After you dry the part of your feet infected by the fungus, wash the towel
  • Some would suggest eating less sugar and they say this makes your body less conducive to hosting fungal infection.

Toenail Fungus Treatment

Treatments range from pharmacological oral prescriptions to ointments. It is common to hear about a home remedy for toenail fungus like vinegar, vicks vaporrub, Listerine, or tea tree oil. These do not work. Due to the fact that the fungus is so well protected by the nail, effective toenail fungus cure requires a comprehensive long-term treatment approach. This is where a podiatrist can be helpful. Without proper diagnosis, it can be difficult to choose the most effective treatment. Monitoring and adjusting treatments requires an extended period of time to see results.  Remember to treat your shoe gear too.  Colorado Foot Institute recommends Clarus Shoe Shield for best broadest spectrum of protection. Available at Colorado Foot Institute or see our  Store for details.

We Can Help

Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive Rear Foot and Ankle Surgery. He has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from the the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, a national leader in medical education.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four month post-graduate Residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery and a twenty-four month surgical Fellowship training program in Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

Treatment for toenail fungus may be provided in a couple of different manners, and Dr. Mechanik is confident in his ability to cure your toenail fungus regardless of the severity of the condition.

Dr. Mechanik can help you with an effective treatment plan for dealing with difficult toenail fungus infections. Schedule your appointment with our friendly staff at 303-333-3383.