Embarrassing Fungal Toenails


Are you one of the many that suffer from thick, discolored, ragged toenails? You’ve tried a topical antifungal cream, but that doesn’t seem to make it go away, so you just hide behind close-toed shoes and never take them off in public.

In the medical community, fungal toenails are also known as onychomycosis. It is caused by the same family of fungus (tinea) as other fungal infections on the body. That is why it can start as Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) between the toes and the skin on the feet, and then affect the toenails. The fungus enters from cracks in the skin or nails, leaving those with aging toenails or weakened immune systems more vulnerable to infection.

For many, the biggest problem may just be that they are unsightly. In these cases, home treatments should suffice, and invasive intervention is not necessary. You can try some of the following for treatment and prevention:

  • Over-the-counter antifungal medications: As soon as you notice a white spot or mark on the toenails, you may want to try treating the nail. Gently use a nail file on the spot (or to thin any thickened nails), soak the nails (especially if they are thick) and then apply the medication (for deeper penetration).
  • Try other home remedies: Some have had some success using apple cider vinegar or products with camphor and eucalyptus oil.
  • Disinfect nail files and clippers after each use to prevent re-infection.
  • Do not let your feet get too sweaty and don’t let your socks get soaked. Change socks, and even shoes, when they become too sweaty. Fungus thrives in damp, dark environments like sweaty shoes. Rotate between wears and use disinfectant or antifungal powders.
  • If you get pedicures and manicures, make sure they use tools that have been sterilized. Get the first appointment of the day, which will make it more likely that they have been cleaned.

In cases where the fungal toenails cause ingrown toenails or if over-the-counter treatments do not help, consult with our podiatrists. We can try prescribing oral antifungal medications, antifungal nail polish or nail cream, and in worst-case scenarios where the fungal toenails are very painful, toenail removal surgery may be required.

For an evaluation to determine the best solution for your fungal toenails, make an appointment with us at The Podiatry Group. Our podiatrists, Dr. Mark E. Reiner, Dr. Michael A. Haughey, Dr. William G. Coates, and Dr. Erik D. Rosenlof can perform a thorough assessment at our Jonesboro, AR office to treat your feet and ankles and keep them healthy.