Toenail Fungus: What You Need To Know

With summer weather upon us, men and women alike will soon be wearing sandals or enjoying walking barefoot in the sand. But what if you can't because of unsightly nail fungus?

Otherwise known as onychomycosis, this common toenail fungus can be caused by several things:

  • Walking barefoot in communal shower rooms at the gym or in the sauna
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Feet not being able to breathe for extended periods from tight, unvented footwear
  • Injury to nail bed
  • Other family members have it
  • Immune system impairment from things like diabetes, cancer, and AIDS

The fungus finds its way into the skin through little cracks or cuts. A tiny white spot may appear, eventually growing larger. The nail will turn yellow, frequently growing thick and crumbly. The nail may even separate from the bed. Only one toe may be affected initially, but without some kind of treatment, it will likely eventually spread to the others.

So how do you make it go away? It isn't exactly easy or quick. Nail fungus treatments have to be used consistently long enough for a healthy toenail to grow out, and it's still not a guarantee. Here's three of the most common treatments.

Prescription Medicine

Antifungal oral medications are available from the doctor. While they work fairly well, doctors are reluctant to prescribe them except in more severe cases. The risk of side effects is high. People with liver and kidney malfunction or disease will not be able to take oral medications. Heart patients will also be eliminated as it can cause heart failure, even in healthy patients. If you are given a prescription, you will have to have regular bloodwork to monitor your liver and kidney enzymes.

Home Remedies

Many people swear by applying tea tree oil, an essential oil with a camphor scent, or the greasy, mentholated rub people use when they have a chest cold. The problem with home remedies is that they haven't been scientifically tested. You may be rubbing these compounds into your toes for months before you realize they aren't doing a thing.

Over-The-Counter Treatments

Antifungal pens filled with a topical liquid can be purchased from the drug store. They require daily applications for months. The applicator isn't cheap, and again, only after months of using will you know if you've been wasting your money or not.


Unlike risky prescriptions or superficial topical ointments that likely don't work, laser treatments use concentrated light waves to kill the fungus while leaving the surrounding healthy tissues intact. Using laser is a relatively new procedure for toenail fungus removal, but is an excellent option for those who don't want to take medications and are tired of topical treatments not working. Contact Precision Laser Picosure Laser for more information about this option.