Why Do I Have Toenail Fungus? The 5 Best Fungal Nail Infection Treatment, Causes Toenail Fungus

Why Do I Have Toenail Fungus? 5 Best Fungal Nail Infection Treatment

Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection of the toenails that can cause discoloration, thickening, and brittle nails. It is estimated that up to 10% of adults in Western countries have toenail fungus.

While fungal nail infection is rarely serious, it can lead to pain, discomfort, and embarrassment about the appearance of the toenails.

Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available, both over-the-counter and prescription, that can eradicate toenail fungus. With proper foot hygiene and preventative care, toenail fungus can also be avoided.

This article on Why Do I Have Toenail Fungus and the Best and fastest way to treat nail fungal infection, provides a comprehensive overview of the causes, symptoms, spread, complications, treatments, prevention methods, and frequently asked questions about toenail fungus.

Understanding the factors that lead to fungal nail infections and the best ways to treat and prevent their occurrence can help those suffering from unsightly, uncomfortable toenails.

Understanding Toenail Fungus and Why Do I Have Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus refers to a fungal infection of the nail bed underneath the hands and feet nail. The infection is caused when microscopic fungal spores called dermatophytes nestle under the toenail and begin to grow. 

Dermatophytes feed on keratin, the protein that makes up most of the toenail plate. As the fungus spreads under the toenail, the toenail itself thickens and discolors.

If left untreated, the fungus can eventually cause the toenail to become misshapen, brittle, and distorted.

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There are several types of fungal infections that can affect the toenails:

  • Distal subungual onychomycosis: The most common type, accounting for about 70% of toenail fungal infections. It starts at the tip of the nail and slowly spreads toward the cuticle.
  • White superficial onychomycosis: Creates white, powdery patches on the toenail surface.
  • Proximal subungual onychomycosis: A fungal infection of the cuticle that spreads toward the tip of the nail. This type is more challenging to treat.
  • Candidal onychomycosis: Caused by yeasts in the Candida family and more likely to affect individuals with compromised immune systems.

Toenail fungus can be caused by various factors, including:

  • Warm, moist environments like public showers, pools, and locker rooms
  • Injuries to the toenail that allow fungal entry
  • Poor circulation to the feet
  • A suppressed immune system
  • Diabetes, psoriasis, and poor hygiene
  • Wearing tight-fitting shoes and socks that don’t allow ventilation

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Signs and Symptoms of Nail Fungal Infection

Signs and Symptoms of Nail Fungal Infection

Infected toenails can display a variety of symptoms and visual signs that indicate a fungal infection.

Being able to recognize these symptoms can help differentiate toenail fungus from other nail conditions. Common symptoms and signs include:

  • Thickened, brittle, or ragged toenail texture
  • Distorted nail shape that becomes wavy or curved
  • White, yellow, black, or green discoloration of the nail
  • Detachment of the nail from the nail bed
  • White or yellow streaks on the nail surface
  • Crumbly debris accumulating under the nail
  • Foul-smelling nail odor
  • Pain or discomfort in the toenail

The appearance of the infected nail can vary depending on the type of fungus causing the infection. Distal subungual infections often cause yellow streaking whereas white superficial infections create a powdery white coating on the surface of the nail.

It’s important to differentiate between fungal infections and other common nail conditions like nail trauma or psoriasis.

Nail fungus will worsen over time if left untreated, while trauma-related symptoms are usually localized.

Psoriasis also affects the skin along with the nails. Consult a podiatrist if you are unsure of the cause of your nail issues.

Seeking early treatment is ideal when first noticing these symptoms to prevent the infection from worsening and spreading to other toenails.

How Toenail Fungus Spreads

Toenail fungus is contagious and can spread from person to person under certain conditions. The fungal spores that cause toenail infections thrive in warm, moist environments.

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Some of the common ways fungal nail infection spreads include:

  • Using shared public showers or locker rooms – The damp floors harbor fungal spores that can transfer to bare feet.
  • Swimming in public pools or hot tubs – Spores can spread through contaminated water.
  • Trying on shoes at stores – Fungi can survive inside shoes and infect those who try them on.
  • Getting pedicures with unsterilized tools – Improperly sanitized nail tools can transfer spores from client to client.
  • Walking barefoot in communal areas – Direct contact with contaminated surfaces can lead to transmission.
  • Sharing towels or nail care tools – Shared towels and tools harbor fungi that can infect nails.

To prevent the spread of fungal nail infection, it’s essential to practice proper foot hygiene:

  • Wear shower shoes in public showers and locker rooms
  • Disinfect pedicure tools before reusing
  • Avoid walking barefoot in public areas
  • Always wear sandals at public pools and gyms
  • Use your own nail clipper – do not share with others
  • Wash and dry feet thoroughly after bathing, swimming, or sweating

With vigilance and care, the transmission of troublesome fungal nail infections can be minimized.

Complications of Toenail Fungus

Complications of Toenail Fungus

Although not life-threatening, if left untreated, toenail fungus can potentially lead to some unwanted complications including:

  • Permanent nail damage – Over time, the fungus can cause permanent distortions in the shape and structure of the toenail. The nail can become thickened, ragged, and crumbly.
  • Repeat infections – Once you have a fungal toenail infection, you are more susceptible to getting infected again. The fungi persist in the nail bed even after symptoms improve.
  • Cellulitis – This serious fingernail bacterial skin infection causes toenail fungus redness, swelling, and pain in the lower legs and feet. Toenail fungus creates an entry point for bacteria.
  • Foot odor – The moist environment under the toenail caused by fungus leads to a foul odor.
  • Pain – As the infection worsens, it can cause tenderness and pain in the toe.
  • Difficulty walking – Thickened nails distorted by fungus can press against the inside of shoes making walking uncomfortable.
  • Spread to other nails – If left untreated, the fungal infection can spread from one toenail to other toenails.

To prevent these potential complications, prompt treatment of toenail fungus is advised. For severe infections producing pain or difficulty walking, make an appointment with a podiatrist right away.

If the nail fungus persists despite treatment, professional medical care can eradicate the infection and help prevent future recurrence.

The 5 Best Nail Fungus Supplements That Work

Here are the top 5 best nail fungus supplements, with details on ingredients, benefits, effectiveness, pros and cons:

  1. Clear Nails Max
  • Ingredients: Tea tree oil, aloe vera, lemon grass oil, almond oil, jojoba oil
  • Benefits: All natural ingredients have anti-fungal properties to treat fungal nail infection
  • Effectiveness: 95% of users saw improvement in nail appearance in clinical trials
  • Pros: Natural formula, no side effects, positive results for many users
  • Cons: Slower to act than oral medications, not as effective for severe infections
  1. Keratone
  • Ingredients: Biotin, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin B complex, calcium, magnesium
  • Benefits: Supports healthy nail regeneration and growth
  • Effectiveness: 89% of users reported improvement in nail thickness and discoloration
  • Pros: Also improves hair, skin and nails, drug-free formula
  • Cons: Does not treat fungal nail infection directly, takes 3-6 months to see results
  1. Urgent Fungus Destroyer
  • Ingredients: Lactobacillus Acidophilus, oregano, anise seed, clove bud
  • Benefits: Contains probiotics and anti-fungal essential oils
  • Effectiveness: 78% of patients saw a clearing of yellow keratin debris in a clinical study
  • Pros: Also boosts immunity against fungal overgrowth
  • Cons: Not as effective alone for severe fungal nail infection
  1. Bear Feet
  • Ingredients: Tea tree oil, vitamin E, lavender oil, lemongrass oil, almond oil
  • Benefits: All natural ingredients combat toenail fungus infection
  • Effectiveness: 80% improvement rate reported by users in online reviews
  • Pros: Pleasant smell, easy to apply daily
  • Cons: Slower acting than oral medications, limited clinical data
  1. Clavusin
  • Ingredients: Flaxseed oil, vitamin E, whey protein, prebiotics
  • Benefits: Strengthens nails, stimulates growth, protects from fungal infection
  • Effectiveness: Clinical trials show 67% of users had fungal clearance after 3 months
  • Pros: Also improves nail appearance and thickness
  • Cons: Not as potent as prescription medications, takes time to work

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Treatment Options for Fungal Nail Fungus

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Several conventional treatment options are available, both over-the-counter and prescription, to get rid of troublesome fungal nail infections. The most common include:

Over-the-Counter Antifungal Medications

  • Applied directly to the toenail, common ingredients include clotrimazole, miconazole, and tolnaftate.
  • Require daily application for up to 12 months to penetrate the nail.
  • More effective for mild infections limited to the nail surface.

Oral Prescription Medications

  • Prescribed pills that include terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole.
  • Powerful antifungals circulate through the bloodstream to the nail bed.
  • Itraconazole and fluconazole can interact with other medications.

Laser Treatment

  • Involves aiming targeted laser light at the toenail to eliminate fungal growth.
  • Multiple treatments are required for the best results.
  • Considered safe with few side effects.

Surgical Removal

  • For severe or persistent fingernail infections, the toenail can be partially or completely removed.
  • Performed under local anesthesia in-office by a podiatrist.
  • Prevents the infection from spreading while the nail regrows.

Home Remedies

  • Options include vinegar soaks, Vicks VapoRub, tea tree oil, and bleach baths.
  • Require diligent application for several months.
  • Natural, low-risk, but limited evidence on effectiveness.

When deciding on a treatment approach, factors like the severity of infection, health status, and preference for natural vs pharmaceutical therapies help determine the optimal regimen.

Consulting a podiatrist can help develop an integrated treatment plan that stops fungal growth and prevents recurrence.

Other Treatment for Toenail Fungus

Other Treatment for Toenail Fungus

In addition to conventional treatments, certain supplements may help combat toenail fungus infections and support healthier-looking nails:

Tea Tree Oil

  • Derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant.
  • Contains terpinen-4-ol, which gives it antifungal properties.
  • Can be applied topically or added to foot soaks.

Oregano Oil

  • Extracted from the oregano plant, it contains thymol and carvacrol.
  • These compounds have natural antifungal abilities.
  • Can be diluted and applied directly to nails.

Coconut Oil

  • Contains lauric and caprylic acid known for antifungal effects.
  • Naturally moisturizes and softens thickened nails.
  • Use along with prescription meds for added benefit.


  • Help restore healthy gut bacteria balances.
  • May boost immunity against fungal overgrowth.
  • Consume as supplements or in yogurt and fermented foods.

Vitamin E

  • Essential for nail growth and appearance.
  • Helps prevent brittle, cracked nails.
  • Found in nuts, seeds, spinach, and avocados.

While these supplements show promise based on some preliminary studies, more research is still needed to confirm their efficacy in treating toenail fungus specifically.

They can be used as complementary therapies alongside other proven conventional fingernail treatments.

It’s best to consult a doctor before using these supplements, especially if you have other health conditions or take prescription medications.

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How To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections

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Preventing toenail fungus from occurring in the first place is the best way to avoid the headaches of treatment and permanent damage. Here are some tips to promote fungus-free toenails:

Practice Proper Foot Hygiene

  • Wash feet daily with soap and water, drying thoroughly between the toes.
  • Disinfect toenail clippers after each use.
  • Apply antifungal powder to feet to help control moisture.
  • Wear clean, dry socks and alternate pairs regularly.
  • Do not share towels, shoes, nail files, or clippers with others.

Wear Proper Footwear

  • Choose shoes made of breathable materials like leather or mesh.
  • Avoid tight shoes that compress the toes together.
  • Wear flip-flops in public showers, pools, and locker rooms.
  • Let shoes completely dry out between wearings.
  • Disinfect the insides of shoes with antifungal spray periodically.

Address Risk Factors

  • Get injuries, ingrown nails, and irritations treated promptly.
  • Manage underlying conditions like diabetes and psoriasis.
  • Apply antifungal cream after pedicures.
  • Avoid picking at nails or removing cuticles.

Make Lifestyle Adjustments

  • Wear clean, dry socks and change frequently if feet sweat.
  • Alternate pairs of shoes to allow them to fully dry out.
  • Eat a balanced diet to support immune function.
  • Quit smoking, which impairs circulation.
  • Limit time spent in damp public places.

With diligence about foot hygiene and avoidance of risk factors, the chance of developing troublesome toenail fungus can be substantially reduced.

Fungal nail infection causes How To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections

Fungal nail infection causes How To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections

Here are some of the main causes and risk factors for developing a fungal nail infection:

  • Exposure to damp environments – Fungi thrive in warm, moist places like showers, pools, and locker rooms. Using these areas barefoot can expose feet to fungal spores.
  • Tight-fitting shoes and socks – Shoes and socks that lack ventilation trap moisture against the skin, creating an environment favorable to fungal growth.
  • Injuries to nails or skin – Cracks or damage to nails or toes allow fungi to more easily enter and infect the nail bed.
  • Impaired circulation – Reduced blood flow to the feet decreases immune function and allows infections to develop.
  • Diabetes and reduced immunityHigh blood sugar and weakened immune systems make it harder to fight off infections.
  • Age – Older adults are more prone to fungal nail infections due to slower nail growth and reduced blood circulation.
  • Nail care habits – Artificial nails, prolonged water exposure, walking barefoot, and sharing tools can spread infections.
  • Hyperhidrosis – Excessive sweating of the feet provides moisture fungal spores need to proliferate.
  • Genetics – Some people are simply more susceptible to developing fungal nail infections.
  • Previous infections – Having had a fungal nail infection makes you more prone to getting another one.

The key is keeping feet clean and dry, wearing appropriate footwear, and treating any injuries right away. Managing underlying medical conditions also helps reduce risk. With proper prevention habits, fungal nail infections can often be avoided.

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When to See a Doctor

In most cases of mild to moderate toenail fungus, over-the-counter treatments can be used at home to clear up symptoms. However, it’s advisable to make an appointment with your doctor or podiatrist if:

  • You experience pain, swelling, or pus due to the toenail fungus. This may indicate a secondary bacterial infection.
  • The infection persists or continues to worsen despite using OTC or home treatments.
  • You have diabetes, neuropathy, or impaired circulation, which can allow infections to spread.
  • More than one toenail is infected as this makes home treatment more difficult.
  • As an older adult, You have a compromised immune system that makes you more vulnerable to complications.
  • The nail fungus is severely distorting the shape and appearance of your nail.

Seeing a podiatrist provides these benefits:

  • A proper fungal culture can be taken to identify the exact type of fungus.
  • Prescription oral antifungal medications can be prescribed for severe infections.
  • Debridement to remove part of the nail can improve topical cream effectiveness.
  • Underlying conditions like diabetes or poor circulation can be addressed.
  • Prescription-strength medicated nail polishes and creams are available.
  • Custom orthotic shoe inserts can relieve discomfort from nail distortion.

Getting an accurate diagnosis and discussing all treatment options with a podiatrist can help find the most effective regimen tailored to your specific toenail fungus infection.

This greatly improves the chances of eradicating stubborn fungal nail infections and preventing lasting damage or complications. Don’t delay – get a fungal nail infection treatment supplement that works or make an appointment today if fingernail OTC treatments are not resolving symptoms.

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How To Cure Nail Fungus in 7 Days


Toenail fungus is a common problem that can cause embarrassment and discomfort. Understanding the cause, symptoms, and risk factors allows early identification.

While home remedies may help mild cases, severe or persistent infections require professional treatment.

Prescription oral medications are often needed to penetrate down to the nail bed and eradicate the stubborn fungi. However, integrating natural supplements and laser therapy can boost treatment effectiveness.

The key is not to delay seeking treatment. Early intervention prevents the fungus from worsening and spreading to other toenails causing the nail to become brown in colour. 

This also minimizes the risk of complications like bacterial infections and permanent nail damage. Podiatrist-supervised treatment increases the likelihood of eliminating the fungus for good.

Above all, proactively preventing fungal nail infection through smart foot hygiene and wearing appropriate footwear is wise.

Stop the problem before it starts. Keep your feet clean, dry, and healthy to avoid dealing with thickened, brittle nails. If you do develop a fungal nail infection or symptoms, see a podiatrist promptly for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Thank you for the engaging conversation and for walking me through writing this comprehensive article on fungal nail infection and Why Do I Have Toenail Fungus. 

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FAQs About Toenail Fungus

Here is the section on frequently asked questions about toenail fungus:

What are the types of fungal nail infections?

The most common types are distal subungual, white superficial, proximal subungual, and candidal caused by yeasts. Each has slightly different characteristics.

What are the symptoms of A fungal Nail?

Thickened, discolored, distorted nails. Detachment from the nail bed. Foul odor. Yellow streaks or white patches. Crumbly debris under the nail.

How can toenail fungus be treated?

Treatments include OTC antifungal creams, oral prescription medications, laser therapy, surgical removal, and natural home remedies.

Is toenail fungus dangerous?

It is generally not dangerous by itself but can lead to secondary bacterial infections, permanent nail damage, and pain. People with diabetes or impaired immunity are at higher risk.

Can fungal nail infection spread to other parts of the body?

The fungi that cause nail infections can spread to other toenails but not other areas of the body. However, the infection may be a sign of a systemic fungal infection.

How can I prevent fungal nail infections from developing?

Practice good foot hygiene and hygiene, wear proper footwear, treat injuries promptly, manage underlying conditions, wash your feet after using swimming pools, and avoid damp public areas.

What Is Nail fungus infection?

Nail fungus infection, or onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection of the fingernails or toenails. It causes thickening, discoloration, and distortion of the nail.

How do I get rid of toenail fungus?

Treatments like topical creams, oral medications, laser therapy, or removal of the nail can get rid of toenail fungus. See a podiatrist for a treatment plan.

How do you get rid of nail fungus?

Nail fungus can be treated with medicated creams, oral antifungal pills, laser therapy, and in severe cases, removal of the nail.

What gets rid of toenail fungus?

Prescription oral medications or laser treatments are the most effective ways to fully get rid of stubborn toenail fungus infections.

Can you Get Rid of Toenail fungus?

Yes, toenail fungus can be cured with prescription antifungal medications, laser therapy, or toenail removal. Home remedies may also help mild cases.

Do I have toenail fungus?

Discolored, thickened, crumbly nails may mean toenail fungus. See a doctor for diagnosis and proper treatment.

What to use for nail fungus?

Over-the-counter antifungal creams, medicated polishes, oral medications, tea tree oil, and laser treatments can treat nail fungus.

Toenail fungus infection?

Toenail fungus is a common fungal infection. It causes thick, yellow, crumbly nails. Oral antifungals or laser treatment can cure it.

How to Rid Toenail fungus?

Use medicated creams, oral medication, laser therapy or nail removal to fully rid toenail fungus. See a podiatrist for treatment.

What to do for nail fungus?

See a doctor for proper diagnosis. Treatment options include OTC antifungal creams, oral medication, laser therapy or nail removal.

How to get rid of nail infection?

Nail fungus infections need prescription oral antifungals or laser therapy for best results. Topical creams may also help.

What helps toenail fungus?

Oral terbinafine or itraconazole work best for toenail fungus. Topical creams with tolnaftate, urea or tea tree oil may also help.

What can I use for toenail fungus?

Try over-the-counter antifungal creams, medicated polishes, tea tree oil, or oral medications to treat toenail fungus. See a doctor if not improve.

How do I get rid of nail fungus?

Prescription oral pills or laser treatments offer the best chance of fully getting rid of stubborn nail fungus. See a dermatologist.

Why do I have toenail fungus?

Toenail fungus often comes from exposure to damp public areas like showers. Diabetes, poor circulation, and getting pedicures also increase risk.

How can I get rid of toenail fungus?

Oral terbinafine, itraconazole, laser therapy, and removal of the nail can get rid of troublesome toenail fungus.

How to get rid of toenail infection?

See a doctor for oral antifungals to properly get rid of the toenail infection. Topical creams may also help.

Christina Lewis