The causative pathogens of onychomycosis are all in the fungus kingdom and include dermatophytes, Candida (yeasts), and nondermatophytic molds.[2] Dermatophytes are the fungi most commonly responsible for onychomycosis in the temperate western countries; while Candida and nondermatophytic molds are more frequently involved in the tropics and subtropics with a hot and humid climate.[10]

You may first notice a fungal toenail infection as a small white or yellow spot on the tip of your toenail, especially the big toe. As the infection progresses, the toenail can become yellow, brittle—even crumbly—and thick and uneven-looking. In the worst fungal infections, the toenail separates from the nail bed. This is called onycholysis. As fungal infections worsen, the nail beds can be tender to the touch and quite painful. Sometimes women try to pretend the pain is “normal” and ignore it altogether.
Toenail fungus, also called onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection of your toenail. The most noticeable symptom is a white, brown, or yellow discoloration of one or more of your toenails. It may spread and cause the nails to thicken or crack. Sandal season or not, toenail fungus typically isn’t what you want to see when you look at your feet. Luckily there are many treatments you can try.
As both an antiseptic and fungicidal remedy, tea tree oil is a great remedy for onychomycosis.  First clean areas on and around the infection with rubbing alcohol then apply undiluted 100% pure tea tree oil (such as this Plant Therapy Tea Tree Oil) directly to the affected nails and let it soak in.  After about ten minutes, gently scrub the nail with a soft bristle toothbrush.  When applying tea tree oil directly to skin, consider mixing the oil one-to-one with an all-natural carrier, like olive or almond oil.  Repeat daily until the new healthy nail grows out completely, then continue treatment for two to three more weeks to prevent regrowth.
Baking soda has the ability to dry up the excess moisture on your toes, and it will help neutralize foot odor and act as a toenail fungus treatment. Create a paste using baking soda and water and apply it to the toenail. Let it soak for 10 minutes and then rinse off. You can also create a foot bath by mixing a bucket of water with baking soda and letting your entire foot soak. Check out these other effective home remedies for smelly feet.
An imbalance of healthy micro-flora in the body can also be a big cause of fungal overgrowth like onychomycosis. Be sure to partner a good probiotic supplement with your choice of toenail fungus remedy.  Thriving, healthy gut bacteria hinder the growth and spread of parasitic fungi and other microbes by limiting their available living space.  Also, lactobacillus bacteria found in most probiotic supplements actually secrete a biproduct that is poisonous to Candida.  Just make sure that your supplement contains no sugar or artificial fillers that may inadvertently feed the unwanted fungus.
Orange essential oil is another natural anti-fungal that can be applied daily to toenails in order to cure an infection.  Apply a drop of Plant Therapy Orange Oil on nails and between toes.  Let the oil soak in for at least one hour.  Orange oil may be too strong for people with sensitive skin.  If you find this is the case for you, dilute the oil with an all-natural carrier such as olive oil.  Also, because citrus allergies are somewhat common, it is recommended to test orange oil on a spot of healthy skin before applying it to infected nails.  (Many health and wellness stores have open ‘testers’ of their products for just such a purpose.)
When the skin is injured damaged, the natural protective skin barrier is broken. Bacteria and yeasts can then invade the broken skin. Bacteria can cause a bad smell. Bacterial infection of the skin and resulting inflammation is known as cellulitis. This is especially likely to occur in individuals with diabetes, chronic leg swelling, who have had veins removed (such as for heart bypass surgery), or in the elderly. Bacterial skin infections also occur more frequently in patients with impaired immune systems.

Take oral medication. The most effective way to get rid of nail fungus is systemic treatment with oral prescription antifungals. Treatment with oral medications can take 2-3 months or longer. Oral antifungal prescription medications include Lamisil, which is usually prescribed with a dose of 250 mg a day for 12 weeks. Side effects can include rash, diarrhea, or liver enzyme abnormalities. This medication should not be used if you have liver or kidney issues.


A 2003 survey of diseases of the foot in 16 European countries found onychomycosis to be the most frequent fungal foot infection and estimates its prevalence at 27%.[32][33] Prevalence was observed to increase with age. In Canada, the prevalence was estimated to be 6.48%.[34] Onychomycosis affects approximately one-third of diabetics[35] and is 56% more frequent in people suffering from psoriasis.[36]

When athlete's foot fungus or infested skin particles spread to one's environment (such as to clothes, shoes, bathroom, etc.) whether through scratching, falling, or rubbing off, not only can they infect other people, they can also reinfect (or further infect) the host they came from. For example, infected feet infest one's socks and shoes which further expose the feet to the fungus and its spores when worn again.

What triggers candida in the first place? This overgrowth of yeast can develop from a number of factors, including antibiotic use, poor digestion, low immune system function, a high sugar and grain diet, stress or hormonal changes. All these create an acidic environment that encourages yeast growth and the presence of candida. Many people opt for over-the-counter anti-fungal creams or even medications, but they only treat the symptoms, not the environment that allows candida to flourish.


If the fungal infection has spread to the toenails, the nails must also be treated to avoid reinfection of the feet. Often, the nails are initially ignored only to find the athlete's foot keeps recurring. It is important to treat all of the visible fungus at the same time. Effective nail fungus treatment may be more intensive and require prolonged courses (three to four months) of oral antifungal medications.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medicines as topical applications to help treat foot and toenail fungus and prevent the fungus from recurring. PROFOOT anti-fungal products containing Tolnaftate 1% are clinically proven to cure and prevent fungal infections on skin around, adjacent to, and under nails, making it easy to treat fungal infections all day, every day, until they have cleared. ProClearz Fungal Shield is a safe and effective clear formula that dries quickly with no unpleasant odor. The 1 oz. bottle comes with a brush-on applicator designed to reach skin areas around and under nails.
Dr. Kyoung Min Han is a podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist) practicing in Southern California. Dr. Han completed her undergraduate education at the University of California, San Diego, and went on to the New York College of Podiatric Medicine to pursue her medical training. She returned to her native Southern California to complete a three-year foot and ankle surgical residency, followed by subspecialty training in a sports medicine fellowship.
Select shoes that fit right –  Choosing the correct footwear is a must if you want to avoid toenail fungus. Shoes should not touch your toenails at all. Don’t jam your feet into shoes that are too big either – this will cause you to jam your toenail into the front of the shoe causing damage. According to the American Academy of Physicians, the best shoes have a wide toe box.
White superficial onychomycosis (WSO) is caused by fungal invasion of the superficial layers of the nail plate to form "white islands" on the plate. It accounts for around 10 percent of onychomycosis cases. In some cases, WSO is a misdiagnosis of "keratin granulations" which are not a fungus, but a reaction to nail polish that can cause the nails to have a chalky white appearance. A laboratory test should be performed to confirm.[15]
Oral medications include terbinafine (76% effective), itraconazole (60% effective) and fluconazole (48% effective).[2] They share characteristics that enhance their effectiveness: prompt penetration of the nail and nail bed,[23] and persistence in the nail for months after discontinuation of therapy.[24] Ketoconazole by mouth is not recommended due to side effects.[25] Oral terbinafine is better tolerated than itraconazole.[26] For superficial white onychomycosis, systemic rather than topical antifungal therapy is advised.[27]
Oral antifungal therapy has a high cure rate, depending on the medication. It can take nine to 12 months to see if it has worked or not, because that is how long it takes for the nail to grow out. Even when therapy works, the fungus may come back. Currently, an oral antifungal therapy is considered the best treatment for toenail fungus because of higher cure rates and shorter treatment duration compared to topical therapy.
Orange essential oil is another natural anti-fungal that can be applied daily to toenails in order to cure an infection.  Apply a drop of Plant Therapy Orange Oil on nails and between toes.  Let the oil soak in for at least one hour.  Orange oil may be too strong for people with sensitive skin.  If you find this is the case for you, dilute the oil with an all-natural carrier such as olive oil.  Also, because citrus allergies are somewhat common, it is recommended to test orange oil on a spot of healthy skin before applying it to infected nails.  (Many health and wellness stores have open ‘testers’ of their products for just such a purpose.)

Dermatologists specialize in the treatment of skin disorders, including athlete's foot. You may find a board-certified dermatologist through http://www.aad.org. Additionally, family medicine physicians, internal medicine physicians, pediatricians, podiatrists (foot doctors), and other practitioners may also treat this common infection. Most primary care physicians can treat athlete's foot successfully.
Trichophyton rubrum is the most common dermatophyte involved in onychomycosis. Other dermatophytes that may be involved are T. interdigitale, Epidermophyton floccosum, T. violaceum, Microsporum gypseum, T. tonsurans, and T. soudanense. A common outdated name that may still be reported by medical laboratories is Trichophyton mentagrophytes for T. interdigitale. The name T. mentagrophytes is now restricted to the agent of favus skin infection of the mouse; though this fungus may be transmitted from mice and their danders to humans, it generally infects skin and not nails.

Elizabeth is an experienced freelance writer, specializing in health & wellness, education & learning, family life & parenting, and women's issues. She's been published on Huffington Post, and was a regular contributor to Love Live Health and Daily Home Remedy. Elizabeth is a retired primary school principal and education consultant, with a continuing passion for education and learning. She's familiar with writing newsletters, reports to stakeholders, financial reports, business plans and evaluation reports.
Athlete's foot is caused by a number of different fungi.[3] These include species of Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum.[4] The condition is typically acquired by coming into contact with infected skin, or fungus in the environment.[3] Common places where the fungi can survive are around swimming pools and in locker rooms.[8] They may also be spread from other animals.[5] Usually diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms; however, it can be confirmed either by culture or seeing hyphae using a microscope.[4]
Français: se débarrasser d’une onychomycose, Italiano: Liberarsi dall'Onicomicosi, Español: eliminar los hongos de las uñas de los pies (onicomicosis), Deutsch: Zehenpilz loswerden, Português: Se Livrar de Pé de Atleta, 中文: 治疗甲癣, Русский: лечить грибковое поражение ногтя, Nederlands: Van schimmelnagels afkomen, Bahasa Indonesia: Menyingkirkan Jamur di Jari Kaki, Čeština: Jak vyléčit plíseň na nehtech, ไทย: กำจัดเชื้อราที่เล็บเท้า, हिन्दी: पैर के फंगल संक्रमण से छुटकारा पाएँ, العربية: التخلّص من فطريات الأظافر, Tiếng Việt: Điều trị Nấm móng chân
One of the best remedies for toenail fungus, apple cider vinegar can be used topically, internally, or both. Mix one part ACV and one part Epsom salts with six parts hot water.  Let the water cool so that it is still warm to the touch, but not so hot as to be damaging to your skin.  Soak feet up to twice daily for at least thirty minutes to kill fungus.  Mix two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of warm water and add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten the beverage.
Onychomycosis, also known as tinea unguium, is a fungal infection of the nail.[2] Symptoms may include white or yellow nail discoloration, thickening of the nail, and separation of the nail from the nail bed.[2][3] Toenails or fingernails may be affected, but it is more common for toenails to be affected.[3] Complications may include cellulitis of the lower leg.[3]
Some methods of prevention include avoiding walking barefoot in public showers, keeping the toenails short, wearing big enough shoes, and changing socks daily.[4][5] When infected, the feet should be kept dry and clean and wearing sandals may help.[3] Treatment can be either with antifungal medication applied to the skin such as clotrimazole or for persistent infections antifungal medication that are taken by mouth such as terbinafine.[2][4] The use of the cream is typically recommended for four weeks.[4]
Besides being exposed to any of the modes of transmission presented above, there are additional risk factors that increase one's chance of contracting athlete's foot. Persons who have had athlete's foot before are more likely to become infected than those who have not. Adults are more likely to catch athlete's foot than children. Men have a higher chance of getting athlete's foot than women.[25] People with diabetes or weakened immune systems[25] are more susceptible to the disease. HIV/AIDS hampers the immune system and increases the risk of acquiring athlete's foot. Hyperhidrosis (abnormally increased sweating) increases the risk of infection and makes treatment more difficult.[26]
A 2003 survey of diseases of the foot in 16 European countries found onychomycosis to be the most frequent fungal foot infection and estimates its prevalence at 27%.[32][33] Prevalence was observed to increase with age. In Canada, the prevalence was estimated to be 6.48%.[34] Onychomycosis affects approximately one-third of diabetics[35] and is 56% more frequent in people suffering from psoriasis.[36]
​The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of FootCareMD, including text, images and graphics, is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, use the "Find an Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon" tool at the top of this page or contact your primary doctor. 
Elizabeth is an experienced freelance writer, specializing in health & wellness, education & learning, family life & parenting, and women's issues. She's been published on Huffington Post, and was a regular contributor to Love Live Health and Daily Home Remedy. Elizabeth is a retired primary school principal and education consultant, with a continuing passion for education and learning. She's familiar with writing newsletters, reports to stakeholders, financial reports, business plans and evaluation reports.
Globally, fungal infections affect about 15% of the population and affects one out of five adults.[2][21] Athlete's foot is common in individuals who wear unventilated (occlusive) footwear, such as rubber boots or vinyl shoes.[21][23] Countries and regions where going barefoot is more common experience much lower rates of athlete's foot than do populations which habitually wear shoes; as a result, the disease has been called "a penalty of civilization".[35] Studies have demonstrated that men are infected 2–4 times more often than women.[2]
Whitish or yellowish nails can occur due to onycholysis. This means separation of the nail from the nail bed. The color you see is air beneath the nail. The treatment is to trim the nail short, don't clean under it, polish if you want to hide the color, and wait two to three months. Persistent onycholysis can make the nails susceptible to fungal infection.
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