Fungal infection of the toenails and fingernails is referred to as onychomycosis. Toenails are the most vulnerable to fungal infection because they are often injured by repeated trauma in shoes, which creates a space between the nail and nail bed that is hospitable to fungi. If left untreated, onychomycosis can lead to permanent nail damage.
Onychomycosis appears as white or yellowed nails that may be thickened and brittle. One or more nails may be involved, and different parts of a nail may be affected.
Practice good hygiene - keep hands and feet clean and nails trimmed. Keep your skin dry, especially between the toes. Wear shower sandals in damp public places. Wear well-ventilated shoes, and change socks regularly, especially after exercise. Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes. Sterilize nail clippers and any instruments used in manicures or pedicures.
Onychomycosis is difficult to treat, and recurrence is common. Most antifungal creams and ointments are not every effective because they cannot penetrate the hard nail in sufficient concentration to kill the fungi. There are, however, some formulations specifically designed to penetrate the nail. If the fungal infection has already reached the nail bed, oral antifungal medications may be prescribed. These can reach the nail bed through the blood. If a nail is badly damaged, nail removal may be recommended.