Health Conditions

Toenail fungus onychomycosis: cause, risk, prevent, details

This toenail fungus onychomycosis the most common nail disease and more is the following.

  • Onychomycosis (fungus) is a fungal condition and is the most common toenail disease.
  • Onychocryptosis (Ingrown Toenail)
  • Anonychia (total or partial lack of nails)
  • Onychodiscophria.
  • Atrophic nails.
  • Black nails.

What is toenail fungus onychomycosis

or nail fungus?

Onychomycosis consists, like athlete’s foot, of an infection, this time in the nails. This nail infection can occur in the case of the fingernails, but the condition is usually greater in the toenails. It is a common and very contagious condition that initially affects the aesthetics of the nail, resulting in a thicker nail that turns a yellowish tone that darkens as the infection progresses.

We insist that the treatment of nail fungus, as well as athlete’s foot in its first phase, is very effective. Regarding the nails, the recovery is total.

In any case, since it is initially difficult to be aware of the symptoms since they are not very bothersome in this first stage, people do not usually go to the podiatrist, causing the infection to spread and, consequently, its treatment and results to be more complicated.

If we do not find a solution to this type of infection, we could cause the disappearance of the nail in its entirety and, consequently, chronic pain and infections in the rest of the nails.

That is why we insist on the need to diagnose and treat this condition as soon as possible.

Toenail fungus onychomycosis starts

A small yellow or white spot or stripe under the tip of one or more nails or on the cuticle. This is how nail fungus starts. From this first sign, the fungi advance to infect the entire nail, causing thickening and discoloration of the entire nail and deterioration of its edge.

Affected nails become brittle, irregular, and peel and deform. They become brown and may emit an unpleasant odor.

Finally, they come off. Although there are several types of toenail fungus, the most common ones, and those on the hands, have in common that they all need a humid, warm, and closed environment to reproduce. Fungi are transmitted from person to person or by contact with infected environments or accessories. The different types of fungi also share the risk factors that favor their appearance. 

The main ones are:

Previous foot fungal infection, since, without treatment, skin fungus can spread to the nails.

Walking barefoot in wet public places such as swimming pools or locker rooms.

Inadequate hygiene and poor drying after washing.

Tight and poorly breathable footwear.

Excessive sweating.

Previous skin or nail injuries, such as psoriasis or even the habit of biting your nails.

Diabetes is associated with less blood circulation in the feet and a greater risk of suffering complications in this part of the body.

Aging, since the passage of time affects the nails and makes them more fragile, causing cracks through which fungi can enter. People over 70 are most at risk.

Circulation problems.

Weakness of the immune system due to diseases or the consumption of certain medications makes the body less capable of facing the different pathogens with which it comes into contact.

Types of toenail fungus onychomycosis

There are several species that can affect people. These are the characteristics of the most common types of fingernail and toenail fungus:


This name refers to several species of fungi that most frequently affect the nails. The disease they cause is called onychomycosis.


Like Candida, which is characterized by causing redness and inflammation around the nail. It is a painful process.

Non-dermatophytic molds:

They present with the appearance of a longitudinal brown band, as well as inflammation and white spots. An example is Aspergillus.

Who is at risk for toenail fungus onychomycosis?

All humans are at risk of suffering from a fungal infection at some point in their lives, however, there are factors that can increase the likelihood and risk.

The disease is more likely to manifest in people with a family history, presenting as a hereditary condition. Men are more likely to get a toenail infection than women, as are older adults who are at higher risk than younger adults.

Some health conditions can also increase the risk levels and propensity to suffer from this condition, for this reason, people with diabetes, poor circulation, and a weakened immune system need to be very attentive to the health of their nails and feet.

Other influencing factors are: Wearing artificial nails, frequently visiting public spaces such as swimming pools and saunas, being over 65 years old, having an injury to the nail, having a wound on the skin around the nails, and keeping your feet moist for long periods of time. For long periods of time, frequently wear closed and tight shoes that do not have an optimal ventilation system.

What is the toenail fungus onychomycosis causes

There are many causes that cause the nail to lose its normal structure and make it easier to get sick from fungus, among these are:

*Trauma caused by heavy objects falling on the fingers or by playing high-impact sports on the fingers (e.g. soccer), among others.

*Wearing pointed shoes or sharing the shoes of a person who has the condition.

*Do not use protective footwear when visiting public places such as swimming pools, beaches, or bathrooms.

*Use of nail clippers or files by people with nail fungus.

*Secondary to diseases such as diabetes, or diseases that compromise the immune system, and axis. Rheumatoid arthritis.

More causes of toenail fungus or toenail fungus onychomycosis:

First of all, it is important that you know what the causes of toenail fungus are :

*Wearing shoes that cause excessive sweating on your feet.

*Walking barefoot on wet pavements.

*Having an injury to the nails or skin of the toes.

*Have athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection of the skin of the foot.

*Suffer from psoriasis with plantar involvement.

*Some diseases, such as diabetes, problems with blood flow, or a weakened immune system.

*After a certain age, toenail fungus is more common.

As for symptoms, the most common are thickening of the nails, changes in color, deformity, fragility, and bad odor.

Causes of lops toenail fungus onychomycosis:

Like foot fungus, nail fungus can be transmitted directly without contact with an infected person or through a contaminated environment. Apart from these main causes, there are risk factors that we must take into account because these factors are favorable to the condition of nail fungus. We quote the most relevant ones below.

If we have suffered athlete’s foot we are more prone to this type of nail infection.

Humidity is another factor that benefits the appearance of nail fungus, so during this summer time, it is easier for this type of infection to arise. This is why excessive sweating and the use of public swimming pools and showers are also a risk factor.

Older people are also more prone to the appearance of nail fungus due to the weakness of our body’s defenses.

Another factor is a depressed immune system or people with diabetes or skin problems such as psoriasis. People with blood circulation problems are also more prone to nail fungus.

Read more: How to fix cracked heels permanently: symptoms, causes, tips

Signs and symptoms of toenail fungus onychomycosis

The most frequent symptoms consist of changes in the nails:

A yellowish hue that tends to progressively darken.

  • They cause pain.
  • They become thick.
  • They become brittle and irregular.
  • Deformation.
  • Foul smell.

A fungal infection in the nails can spread to other areas of the body, especially if you suffer from diabetes or have a weak immune system. Therefore, if you present any of the symptoms mentioned above, go to your doctor to check your nails and avoid possible complications.

What symptoms allow us to detect nail fungus?

Depending on the type of fungus and the stage of infection, the development of symptoms will be. However, broadly speaking we can list some general symptoms.

At first, we can see that the tone of the nail changes to a striped or stained yellowish color. As the infection progresses, this tone becomes darker and darker.

We can also observe how the infected nail is more fragile and easily striated, as well as the change in thickness, which thickens in an abnormal way.

We can even, in a fairly advanced stage, lose the infected nail when the finger comes off, with very unpleasant causes of chronic pain and inflammation of the skin.

Normally we should look at the nail of the big toe since nail fungus begins in that area, normally at the end of the nail and sometimes in the cuticle.

The duration of treatment can range between 6 and 12 months:

In general, these types of treatments are long, and depending on the medication used, their duration can range between 6 and 12 months, resulting, therefore, in a long and laborious process, which means that in many cases therapeutic failure is due to abandoning treatment early.

Finally, the doctor usually prescribes oral antifungal medication when the nail matrix has been affected or when topical treatment has not worked or is not well tolerated. In this case, the doctor has different effective therapeutic options.

The combination of oral treatments together with topical treatments has shown greater effectiveness than both treatments alone.

Diagnosis and treatment of toenail fungus onychomycosis

Your doctor, after analyzing your symptoms and medical history, will examine your nails to evaluate them and perform a scraping to obtain samples to examine under a microscope, confirm the diagnosis, and determine the type of fungus present.

Treatment will depend on the severity and type of fungus that is causing the infection, but generally, you will need to take oral antifungals in order for a new healthy nail to grow. You may also require an antifungal nail polish to apply daily to damaged nails.

Sometimes it is necessary to combine oral and topical antifungal treatments. However, you should consider that clearing a fungal infection can take several months and that it can appear again.

If the infection is serious and you experience a lot of pain, your doctor will likely remove the damaged nail to apply the antifungal directly and attack the infection more forcefully.


You can take the following measures to reduce the risk of developing nail fungus, such as:

Cut your nails straight and smooth the edges with a file.

Avoid walking barefoot in public areas.

Avoid using false nails.

Wash your hands after touching an infected nail.

Keep your feet clean and dry.

Perform hand and foot hygiene daily.

Wear clean socks every day that help absorb sweat.

Wear ventilated shoes and don’t wear the same shoes several days in a row.

Foot fungus or athlete’s foot is contagious

Yes, foot fungus is highly contagious, so if you or someone in your family suffers from it, it is important that you keep in mind that it can be transmitted:

  • By direct contact, that is, by skin-to-skin contact.
  • Through shoes or socks.
  • Through surfaces such as the bathtub, shower, or common areas of gyms or swimming pools.

Treatment of toenail fungus onychomycosis

You should always follow to the letter the instructions given to you by your doctor or pharmacist.

The treatment for fungus is based on good hygiene and cream or treatment for fungus (antifungal)  sold in a pharmacy, without a prescription.

1/ Hygiene

If the doctor has prescribed an antifungal cream, buy a good antiseptic soap at the pharmacy. Wash your feet and dry them very well, especially between the toes. If necessary, you can use a hair dryer to remove traces of moisture.

The towel you use is just for you. 

2/ Antifungal treatments and creams:

Once your feet are clean and dry, you can apply the pharmacy fungal treatment. The first option is a fungicidal cream like Salvelox.

In more complicated cases, the doctor will prescribe an antifungal cream. Apply the necessary amount to cover the affected area and massage until completely absorbed.

Clotrimazole creams:

It should be applied  2 or 3 times a day, for 3 or 4 weeks. Once the symptoms caused by the fungus disappear, continue applying the cream for 2 more weeks to finish eliminating the fungus.

Bifonazole creams:

Bifonazole creams are applied only once a day for three weeks. If you have irregular schedules or are one of those who forget to apply the cream more than once a day, with bifonazole cream you will complete the treatment better.

Other recommendations for foot fungus treatment:

In addition to the advice we have seen about treating foot fungus, keep in mind that fungi love humidity, heat, and lack of perspiration, so if you want to prevent them from reappearing or want to eliminate them more quickly, keep in mind:


Wear open shoes or shoes made with breathable fabrics. Avoid closed shoes made with materials that make it difficult to breathe.

If you need to work in closed shoes, use cotton socks and change them two or three times a day if necessary, to keep your feet dry.

Foot deodorants:

If your feet sweat, use deodorant products in spray or powder form that will help you control sweating and control the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Some are applied directly to the feet and others to the footwear. It is the ideal complement for the treatment of foot fungus.

How do you get toenail fungus?

Most often, nail fungus affects the foot. In fact, they are less common on the hands.

On the feet, nail fungus often affects the big toe before gradually contaminating the nails of the other toes. In fact, like all fungal infections, onychomycosis is contagious.

*You can get them in all public places where you walk barefoot: swimming pools, gyms, saunas…

*They also like heat and humidity.

*Tight shoes, wet socks, and excessive perspiration are the perfect excuse for them to develop.

*On your hands, they can appear if you frequently wear gloves.

Best foot care tips for toenail fungus onychomycosis runners

The feet are a very delicate part of the runner. Specifically, nails are a very special part to take care of. We tell you how.

The constant impacts we make against the ground can damage the nails and make training an ordeal. Today we are going to see some tips to take care of the runner’s nails.

*Cut your nails regularly: long nails are an enemy for the runner. They can come across the toe of our shoe and start doing their thing by turning black or forming the dreaded toenails or ingrown toenails. Mowing once every 10 days or two weeks is a good idea.

*Cut your nails straight: This may seem strange, but cutting rounded nails makes them more likely to form nail marks as the nail grows. A straight nail has the sides safest from digging into the finger.

*Filing, an alternative to cutting: if your nails do not grow very quickly or when you cut them you have discomfort the next day when going for a run, try filing. It is not as radical a solution as nail clippers and you can shape the nail more easily.

*Do not run with very tight shoes: when you buy shoes, make sure that the toe is not too close to the toe, there must be some margin. Tight shoes put pressure on the nails and can cause black nails and discomfort when running (not to mention that you can wear out your shoes over time).

*Be careful when running downhill: on a downhill slope, your feet tend to move toward the toes, which puts more pressure on your fingers and nails. Hence the importance of the previous point, having a shoe with some margin to allow the foot to move.

*What to do when a black nail appears? : If you don’t feel pain, don’t worry, the black nail will gradually heal and return to normal. Of course, in the first few days try to reduce the training volume or it could get worse. If you notice pain, I would recommend going to a podiatrist, you may have a blood blister under the nail and it needs to be drained.

*What to do when we have a nail? : Don’t try to fix it yourself with scissors or nail clippers or it will be worse. It can be temporary and when the nail grows a little more in 2-4 days the pain goes away. If it continues, go to a specialist to prevent it from getting worse and causing infection.

*Long-distance runners, the podiatrist is your friend: it is especially long-distance runners who are going to have the most problems with their nails. Many tend to fall off or have more problems with black nails and ingrown toenails. Without a doubt, visiting the podiatrist regularly is the best way to prevent and avoid foot problems.

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Top 8 home remedies for toenail fungus onychomycosis

In the event that the symptoms are not very severe, you can opt for home remedies to treat this infection. Some of these remedies are:

1. Tea tree oil

This oil that comes from the bark of the tree is recognized for its antibacterial qualities when used topically.

2. Vick Vaporub

Although this medicine is used to treat respiratory diseases, it also has antibacterial ingredients such as eucalyptus oil, useful for treating foot fungus.

3. Lemon:

You can apply lemon juice directly to the affected area or immerse your feet in water where lemon has been previously boiled along with a clove of garlic and rosemary, once cold.

4. Baking soda mask:

There is little research that has proven that the application of baking soda significantly reduces the growth of toenail fungus and prevents its appearance. To use it most effectively, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with ½ teaspoon of water to form a paste and apply to the problem area. Leave it on for 10 minutes, rinse thoroughly, and allow the skin to dry completely before putting on socks or shoes.

5. Mouthwash

Mouthwashes have ingredients such as eucalyptus, menthol, and thyme, which have antibacterial properties. It is recommended to immerse the affected nails in the mouthwash for 30 minutes.

6. Apple vinegar:

The preparation of the tonic requires a few hours of waiting.

This is what you need to prepare the mixture:

¼ cup apple cider vinegar (62 ml)

2 tablespoons of alcohol at 90% concentration (20 ml)

¼ cup hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide) (62 ml)

7. Garlic

A study published by the United States National Library of Medicine in 2009 found that garlic has antifungal properties. It is suggested to place broken or crushed garlic cloves on your nails for 30 minutes.

8. Oregano oil

According to a study published by the literary journal Food Chemistry in 2016, oregano oil also has antibacterial properties. To treat foot fungus, it is suggested to place the oil on the affected nails with a cotton swab twice a day.

FAQs toenail fungus onychomycosis

What does it mean to have very hard nails?

Nails that are too hard are mainly due to excess calcium, so it is not a good sign either. The nail by nature must be flexible, and as we have seen in previous installments, it must have a certain hardness, but an excess of it is not recommended.

What clinical classification of nail morphology?

Normal nail morphology: in this type of nail there is no presence of soft tissue hypertrophy or bone pathology. The nail plate is firm, straight, and translucent.

Congenital nail morphology type I: Here the plate is widened, flexible, and thin. There is periungual inflammation. Respond to conservative treatment.

Type II congenital nail morphology: The nail plate is curved and thin, and there is skin overlap at its distal end. The area far from the skin is hypertrophied.

Acquired nail morphology type I: Normal nail plate, with inflammation of periungual tissues secondary to trauma caused by the end of the nail that becomes embedded in the skin. It is reversible with conservative treatments without the need for surgery.

Acquired nail morphology type II: Nail plate curved in the transverse plane up to 90 degrees. In this case, surgery is necessary.

Acquired nail morphology type III: Onococryptosis associated with hypertrophy of the nail folds. In this case, the pathology is mainly of the fold. Surgery is necessary.

How to remove a toenail fungus?


Oral antifungal medications. These medications are often the first choice. …

Nail polish with medicines. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an antifungal nail polish called Ciclopirox (Penlac). …

Medicated nail cream.

How to know if there is nail fungus?

Nail fungus:

It begins as a white or brownish-yellow spot under the tip of a fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection deepens, the nail may develop discoloration, thickening, and deterioration at the edge. Nail fungus can affect many nails.

What to do when toenails curl?

One way to treat this problem is with correctors similar to the braces used in orthodontics by dentists. They are tensioners that correct the curved shape of the nail during its growth. The tension that these correctors produce on the nail improves the curvature and prevents it from digging into the sides.

How to remove toenail fungus naturally?

Baking soda can be put on socks and footwear to soak up moisture. You can additionally practice a paste of baking soda and water at once on the affected nail and let it take a seat for at least 10 minutes earlier than rinsing. Repeat this a number of instances a day till the fungus disappears.

What is the thickening of nails called?

Onychogryphosis is an exaggerated expansion in the thickness of the nail plate (nail).

As a consequence, this type of nail has transverse grooves, as a result of discontinuous growth, and a very hard texture. Onychogryphosis has a greater incidence on the big toe.

What is the name of the nail-softening liquid?

Information. Nailex liquid remover is a concentrated formula that helps soften ingrown toenails quickly and more effectively. Relaxes and repairs the discomfort caused by the ingrown nail.

What is the name of the pink liquid that podiatrists use?

What is nitric acid in Podiatry? Corrosive liquid for professional treatment for the removal of warts or papillomas.

How to cure nail fungus quickly?

Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream, which you should rub on your infected nails after soaking them. These creams may work best if you thin your nails first because that helps the medication penetrate the hard surface of the nail and reach the fungus underneath.

What does vinegar do to nails?

Among the many properties of vinegar, its antifungal qualities stand out, which can improve toenail fungal infection.

What is the best product for toenail fungus onychomycosis?

Itraconazole produces a mycological cure of 80-85%, with a relapse rate of 10%. Fluconazole. It is a broad-spectrum fungal antifungal that binds less to keratin than itraconazole. It can be administered orally or parenterally.

What is best for foot fungus?

Over-the-counter antifungal creams or powders can help control the infection:

*These products contain medications such as miconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, or tolnaftate.

*Continue using the medication for 1 to 2 weeks after the infection is gone to prevent it from coming back.

What does a podiatrist do with toenail fungus onychomycosis?

Once the fungal infection has been diagnosed, the podiatrist will prescribe the most appropriate treatment. Treatments in the form of nail varnish composed of a medication called amorolfine are generally used.

How to use baking soda for foot fungus?

You can mix a tablespoon of baking soda with water to form a paste and gently rub it on the affected skin.

What types of fungus are there in toenails?

It can be of two types, depending on the color that the nail acquires: white or black. Onychomycosis endonyx. It affects the entire nail, but not the subungual bed. Total dystrophic onychomycosis (TOD).

What is nail fungus like?

When fungi appear on the nails, they form a dystrophic nail, with strange shapes that break easily or grow in thickness, have a bad odor, and have a different color of the nail.

When it comes to fungal infections in the nails, infection of the edges of the nail or the nail digging into the skin is common due to dystrophy.

What to do if I have toenail fungus onychomycosis?

First of all, we must be considerate of others and if we have a fungal infection, do not share a towel, flip-flops, socks, shoes, or any clothing that is in contact with the area affected by the fungus.

All the discomfort caused by the fungus is treated by addressing the problem, it is very important to put yourself in the hands of an expert, be it a podiatrist or dermatologist, to treat them since there are many treatments from topical to systemic for each scenario.

Fungal infections on the skin are much quicker to treat than on the nails, where treatment is slow due to the speed of nail growth.

How to remove hard toenails?

The water with the oil will soften them and provide the necessary moisture to be able to cut the toenails later. You can also soften your toenails in a basin with warm water and neutral soap with a little alcohol. This way, you will soften them at the same time as you disinfect them.

How to soften thick nails?

To do this, fill a container or basin with warm water, add 3 tablespoons of coarse salt, and let your feet soak for 20 or 30 minutes. Dry your feet well and apply a softening cream or a little baby oil to them and your nails, which will also serve to soften the nail structure.

How to prevent toenail fungus onychomycosis from thickening?

  • Perform a deep and daily cleaning of your feet.
  • Dry them well and do not leave wet areas, taking special care between the fingers.
  • Apply special moisturizing creams.
  • Wear footwear that does not put pressure on the toes and that allows adequate ventilation of the feet.


Hope you know everything about this toenail fungus onychomycosis: In large nail hyperkeratoses, many authors recommend, in addition to systemic treatment, the use of an antifungal (for example, bifonazole) in combination with urea in nail polish to improve the penetration of the drug and gradually reduce the nail mass.

A controversial issue is the removal of the nail before starting treatment. It is a painful measure and in the various studies analyzed it does not provide greater efficacy in the treatment, so we can only recommend a chemical extraction with 40% urea and subsequently topical treatment in those patients who for some reason cannot receive systemic therapy. .

To date, there is no therapeutic agent that alone achieves 100% effectiveness. For this reason, the association of a systemic antifungal agent with another in nail polish for 3 and 6 months is the most effective treatment for onychomycosis, in both the feet and hands.

Once the treatment is completed, it is important to carry out an assessment of the clinical cure (disappearance of the lesions) and an assessment of the mycological cure (negativization of the cultures).


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