Are you asking yourself why your toenails are yellow, mal-shaped, thickened, but brittle? Well, the answer is nail fungus; the medical term is onychomycosis.

Onychomycosis is more common in toenails than fingernails because there are fewer blood vessels supplying blood to the toes than the fingers. For this reason elderly people, who have less blood supply to the feet than young people, have a higher incidence of nail fungus.  Blood supply is important when trying to battle fungus because a healthy blood supply will allow the immune system to prevent fungus from making toenails its home.

Nail fungus loves to grow when wearing shoes; this is because shoes are the perfect environment of warm, wet, and dark for fungus to thrive. The environment becomes especially perfect for growing fungus after wearing socks all day while perspiring. Many women have pedicures to cover the nail fungus, but in reality this is not preventing the fungus from growing.  Do not be embarrassed to get treatment because approximately 48% of the population will experience fungal nails before the age of 70. There are some over-the-counter or home treatments that can be attempted. Some of these include:

  • Over-the-counter antifungal medications from your local pharmacy
  • Apply Vicks VapoRub each night to the nail; first clean the nail with some vinegar and then apply the Vicks VapoRub
  • Apply apple cider vinegar to the toenails three times a day
  • For women who enjoy getting pedicures, there is an antifungal nail polish, which will cover up the fungus while working on killing it at the same time!

However, it may take months to see progress with over-the-counter or home treatments. For more individualized and effective treatment to rid your toenail fungus, visit a podiatrist. Some treatments that a podiatrist can provide for killing toenail fungus are:

  • Prescription cream or oral medications
  • Nail removal or nail debridement, which consists of cutting back and filing the nail (this is not for patients to attempt; podiatrists are trained to do nail removal and debridement)
  • Laser therapy

It is important to stop nail fungus dead in its tracks because the fungus can lead to onycholysis, which is when the nail separates from the nail bed; pain and odor are associated with onycholysis. Treating nail fungus can be difficult and may take long-term persistent treatment, but getting rid of the yellow, mal-shaped, thickened, and brittle toenails is worth the persistence.

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