It’s estimated that toenail fungus, aka, onychomycosis, affects 15% of the adult population. While this condition commonly causes cosmetic embarrassment, it may also be associated with pain and secondary bacterial infections. It appears as yellowish thickened nails often with the nail lifted off the underlying nail bed. Onychomycosis is often associated with athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), a fungal infection of the toe web spaces and feet. The fungi and yeast that cause these conditions are ubiquitous and commonly contracted when walking barefoot in public places such as gyms, locker rooms, and swimming pool decks. Fungal infections thrive in warm, dark, moist environments. Unfortunately, this is exactly what our feet are exposed to when we wear shoes!
Treatment of onychomycosis is directed at minimizing environmental factors by drying feet thoroughly after showers, rotating shoes to allow them to dry, keeping feet open to air by wearing sandals when possible, and avoid walking barefoot in public places. Treatment with oral medication (Lamisil) for moderate to advanced conditions and topical preparations (Jublia, Kerydin) for milder cases can improve and sometimes eradicate this condition.