Sometimes, we have to talk about things that aren’t all that pretty…like toenail fungus, for example. This is a common problem affects millions of people in this country. And what’s worse? You could have toenail fungus and not even know you do! This fact is worrisome for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that fungus can be contagious. So, to help prevent the rampant spread of toenail fungus, allow us to give you the low down on this common ailment.

What is toenail fungus?    This is just one of the ways in which toenail fungus can manifest on your foot

Toenail fungus is merely a fungal infection that develops in, under or around your nail bed. Fungal infections can manifest anywhere on your body, when fungal spores make their way through a crack or opening in your skin. And because fungus loves to live in warm, moist environments, your sweaty-little toes are a common spot for this kind of infection to pop up.

Who’s at Risk for Toenail Fungus

Anyone can develop toenail fungus, but certain factors will elevate your risk for this condition. You are more likely to have toenail fungus if you:

  • Have restricted blood flow in your feet
  • Are a senior citizen
  • Sweat heavily
  • Go to nail salons frequently or wear false nails
  • Have diabetes
  • Are dealing with a nail injury 
  • Have a compromised immune system
  • Swim in public pools regularly, or walk around locker rooms on a regular basis

As we said, whether your risk is elevated or not, anyone can develop toenail fungus. For that reason, it’s very important to recognize the signs of a fungal infection so you can seek treatment as soon as possible.

Symptoms of toenail fungus

It can be tricky to detect toenail fungus because there are so many different, varying symptoms of the condition. Depending on how severe your infection has become, you may see symptoms on several nails, one nail, or even a small portion of one nail. Regardless of its spread, symptoms of toenail fungus include:

  • Yellow or white streaks on your nail
  • White, flaky areas on your nail
  • Dips or pits in your nail
  • A thickened nail
  • Parts of your nail that crumble, especially at the tip or corner
  • Yellow spots at the base of your nail
  • The nail begins to lift of its bed
  • Bad odor coming from your nail
  • A nail that falls off

Even if you don’t have toenail fungus, any of these symptoms should be cause to see your podiatrist. Regardless of what’s causing your symptoms, you should seek medical advice to treat the toe issue before it gets worse.


Toenail Fungus Treatments

Your treatment plan will depend on the type of fungal infection you’re dealing with, and the severity of its spread. At our Elmhurst podiatry office, our most popular treatment option is Clear-Nails pro, a doctor-invented combination of ciclopirox, terbinafine and fluconazole that eliminates the entire spectrum of fungi and molds that are causing your condition. This unique patented carrier system allows all three medicines to penetrate both the nail (nail plate) and the nail bed, attacking all the places fungus can hide. You can apply the treatment topically, making it a safe, non-toxic treatment option.

In addition to treating the fungus, we also help you come up with a plan to prevent re-infection. All too often, the fungus affecting your toenail is also in your socks, sheets and shoes. Of course, you can wash your sheets and socks, but you need a better plan to kill the fungus in your shoes, and our podiatrists can help you rid your home of potential infections.   


Jordana White
Jordana Rothstein White