Fungal Nails (Onychomycosis)

August 14, 2014 Posted by Dr.Chang

Fungal infection of the toenail, or onychomycosis, is characterized by a progressive change in a toenail’s quality and color, which is often ugly and embarrassing. It is often ignored because the infection can be present for years without causing any pain.Fungus2

This condition is an infection underneath the surface of the nail caused by fungi. The fungus that attaches to our toenails is ubiquitous in our environment and a natural inhabitant of our skin in very low concentration. When these tiny organisms take hold, the nail plate becomes darker in color and foul smelling. Debris may collect beneath the nail plate, white marks frequently appear on the nail plate, and the infection is capable of spreading to other toenails. If ignored, the fungi infection of the nail can spread and further distort nail shape and form. These often thicker nails are difficult and painful to trim and make walking painful when wearing certain shoes. Onychomycosis is often accompanied by a secondary bacterial or yeast infection in or around the nail plate.

Our toenails are especially vulnerable, since they are often around damp areas where people are likely to be walking barefoot, such as swimming pools, locker rooms, and showers. Additionally, injury to the nail bed, such as repeated contact with a shoe, may make it more susceptible to all types of infection, including bacteria and fungus. Those who suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, circulatory problems, or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributing factors are a history of athlete’s foot (skin fungi infection) and excessive sweating. Excessive sweating and contamination of interior surfaces of shoes can be treated with the application of safe topical medications provided in our office.

The podiatric physicians in Blue Ridge Foot and Ankle Clinic have been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and treatment of all manner of foot conditions. This training encompasses all of the intricately related systems and structures of the foot and lower leg including neurological, circulatory, skin, and the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.


  • Proper hygiene and regular inspection of the feet and toes are the first lines of defense against fungal nails.

  • Clean and dry feet resist disease.

  • Washing the feet and toes with soap and water, remembering to dry thoroughly, even between the toes, is the best way to prevent an infection.

  • Shower shoes should be worn when possible in public areas.

  • Shoes, socks, or hosiery should be changed at least once daily or more often as needed.

  • Toenails should be clipped straight across so that the nail does not extend beyond the tip of the toe.

  • Wear shoes that fit well and are made of materials that breathe.

  • Avoid wearing excessively tight hosiery, which promote moisture retention.

  • Socks made of synthetic fiber tend to “wick” away moisture faster than cotton or wool socks.

  • Disinfect instruments used to cut nails.

  • Disinfect home pedicure tools.

  • Don’t apply polish to nails with suspected of infection, occlusion of sunlight allows fungus to flourish.

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Blue Ridge Foot and Ankle Clinic
887 A Rio East Court Charlottesville, VA 22901
417 South Magnolia AveWaynesboro, VA 22980
Blue Ridge Foot and Ankle Clinic has been a part of the Waynesboro and Charlottesville communities for over 20 years. Podiatrists Dr. Kevin Murray and Dr. Stewart Chang offer services in sports podiatry, foot and ankle problems and diabetic foot care. Our friendly, accommodating team of Certified Podiatric Medical Assistants look forward to welcoming you to our practice.

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