Toenail Fungus: What Can I Do?

Toenail fungus is a fungal infection that affects the toenails, causing toenails to turn yellow and crumbly from fungi that squeeze under them. If left untreated, the fungi dig in deeper and may spread to other toenails, causing them to thicken and become even more unsightly. More than one fungi can affect the toenails, with the most common being dermatophytes, which feed off of keratin found in your toe and fingernails.

A fungal infection of the toenail usually occurs due to small cuts in the skin or a small separation in the toenail and the nail bed. Once present in a toenail, the infection can spread quickly. The foot is prone to fungal infections because shoes are dark, moist environments. The infection also thrives from prolonged exposure to warm, moist environments such as pools or showers.

Who is at Risk?

While some people are genetically prone to toenail fungus, like swimmers and athletes, anyone can get toenail fungus. You could be at higher risk of getting it if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Nail injury
  • Psoriasis
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Athlete’s Foot

Treatment Options

Treatment can be topical creams, oral medications, or laser toenail fungus treatments. Often a combination of all three methods is used. Topical treatments are simple remedies; however, they must be applied daily for 8 to 10 months, and studies have shown that some have a low effective rate. Oral medications are taken daily for three months and are more effective than topical treatments, but studies have shown recurrence rates to be as high as 35%. Laser fungus toenail treatments have been clinically proven to be 77% to 90% effective with 5 mm of new clear nail growth.


There is no way to guarantee you will not get toenail fungus, but you can take steps to prevent it:

  • Avoid going barefoot in communal areas.
  • Trim your nails straight across and not too short.
  • Keep your feet dry.
  • Do not tear or rip your toenails on purpose.
  • Wear shoes that fit correctly. They should not be too loose or tight around the toes.

During the consultation at American Foot & Leg Specialists, our podiatric physicians will review patient specific oral, topical, and laser treatment options in terms of risk and benefits. From there, our physicians will devise a treatment protocol that will best fit the patient’s needs. Contact us today with any questions!