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How to Get Rid of Foot and Toenail Fungus Before it Gets Worse

How to Get Rid of Foot and Toenail Fungus Before it Gets Worse

If you’re struggling with toenail fungus or foot fungus, you’re certainly not alone. According to InformedHealth.org, these conditions affect up to 15% of the population. While this type of fungal infection is extremely common, getting rid of it isn’t always easy. However, there are several ways to treat and even help prevent foot and toenail fungus.

What are foot and toenail fungus?

Foot fungus is commonly known as athlete’s foot and is a fungal infection of the skin. While foot fungus most often occurs between the toes, it can also affect the entire sole of the foot. Toenail fungus, referred to as onychomycosis in the medical community, is a fungal infection that occurs in the toenails. These two infections are caused by the same fungi.

Foot fungus symptoms include:

  • Flakey, itchy skin
  • Thickened, white skin
  • Cracked, reddened skin

Toenail fungus symptoms include:

  • White marks and/or yellow streaks on nails
  • Brittle, crumbling nails
  • Thick, hard to trim nails
  • A bad smell

What causes foot and toenail fungus?

Fungi are microscopic organisms that can live on your skin and often don’t cause any problems. However, if you have any tiny wounds or cracks in your skin, fungi can enter and cause infection. Fungi generally need a moist, warm environment to grow and spread, which is why your feet and especially the skin between your toes are such common areas of fungal infection. Foot fungus can be spread through either direct skin contact or by contact with infected flakes of skin, while toenail fungus can be spread by having a pedicure with unsanitized tools, wearing shoes that cramp your toes, and walking barefoot in warm, damp areas.

Who is at risk?

While runners and swimmers often suffer from foot fungus, you don’t have to be an athlete to get athlete’s foot. Several other risk factors for athlete’s foot include:

  • Circulation problems
  • Genetic predisposition
  • A weak or compromised immune system
  • Eczema and allergies

Risk factors for toenail fungus include:

  • Being older and male
  • Having a chronic condition such as diabetes or a weak immune system
  • Having had foot fungus
  • Recent surgery or injury to your toenail

The Importance of Early Treatment

Foot fungus and especially toenail fungus might not seem like a big deal at first because symptoms can be extremely mild in the beginning. However, athlete’s foot can eventually become extremely uncomfortable and can also cause toenail fungus. If left untreated, the effects of toenail fungus can be much more serious. The damage to your toenails can become permanent, the infection can spread to other parts of your body (such as the hands or groin), and walking can become difficult. At that point, surgery might become necessary.

Best Treatment Options

Fungal infections won’t go away on their own, so seeing a dermatologist is the best option. A board certified dermatologist can provide an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment for you.

Treatment for foot fungus usually involves anti-fungal creams or sprays applied directly to the skin. In addition to topical medications (those applied to the skin or nails), the treatment options for toenail fungus include oral anti-fungal medication, and in some cases, even surgical removal of the infected nail.


To help avoid spreading foot or toenail fungus and to avoid re-infection, be sure to:

  • Wear flip-flops around public pools, showers, and changing areas
  • Dry your feet completely after swimming or bathing
  • Wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe
  • Wash socks, towels, and sheets in water that’s at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit

If you think you might have foot or toenail fungus, the dermatology experts at Valley Skin Institute are here to help. Click here to request an appointment.

Dr. Leslie Storey | Valley Skin Institute

Dr. Leslie Storey is a board-certified physician specializing in medical and surgical dermatology. Her mission is to find and remove skin cancer, which she does more than 2,000 times a year. An expert in Mohs Surgery, Dr. Storey’s patients often comment that they are amazed at how minimal their scar is after they have healed from surgery. If you notice anything suspicious on your skin, request an appointment with Dr. Storey to have it checked out.

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