Why It Just Won’t Go Away: Challenges in Treating Skin & Toenail Fungus

No one likes to be infected with any sort of pathogen, but some types are arguably worse than others. For instance, bacterial infections are often cleared up with a week’s worth of antibiotics. On the other hand, fungal infections can persist for months on end, with or without treatment. Some people suffer with toenail fungus or chronic recurrences of athlete’s foot for years! So why are fungal infections so much harder to eradicate? Andrew Y. Finlay, a professor of dermatology, explained the challenges of treating skin and toenail fungus in a review published in the British Medical Journal.

pathogenic toenail fungus

Pathogenic fungus is often chronic due to the challenges of treating it effectively.
Image Source: Nephron via

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Genetics, Gimmicks, and Impatience: Top 10 Reasons Why Your Toenail Fungus Isn’t Going Away

Toenail fungus is a formidable foe. Mentally, it’s an uphill battle. Just when you think you’ve turned a corner and started seeing progress, the pestilence rears its ugly head again. You probably feel self-conscious and frustrated beyond belief. After investing so much money and time, it seems that your efforts fail to pay off. Many people suffer from chronic toenail infections for a year or more! What’s a person to do?

toenail infection causes

Are contaminated, closed-toe shoes causing your chronic toenail fungus? We have 10 reasons why your infection may not be clearing.

Shoe Care Innovations feels your pain. Adam Ullman, the founder of the SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer, suffered with toenail fungus for many years. He learned a lot about the causes of toenail fungus during the whole process. The many doctors he’s seen all had ideas about what was causing his toenail fungus to recur time and time again. We’d like to share some of these possibilities with you, so you can free yourself from the unending cycle of foot fungus infections, just like Adam did!

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DisCide: Examining a New Disinfectant to Tackle Foot Fungus

Many of us have been battling infectious foot fungus for many years. Part of the problem is likely a genetic susceptibility that makes some people more of a target than others. The other factor — the controllable factor — is that we come into contact with fungal spores after treatment, thus re-infecting the feet again. These tiny, microscopic, living spores thrive in our moist, dark shoes. They can cling to socks, bed sheets, bath mats, and towels. They can even survive on tile floors or the shower floor for many months. Have you ever wondered what hospitals use to keep their surfaces, towels, and sheets sanitized? Looking to the pros may provide the answer you’ve been looking for.

dirty shoes filled with leaves

Is there wildlife growing in your shoes? Tackle the problem before it leads to foot fungus!
Image source: Flickr user Rob “Berto” Bennett

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Foot Hygiene: 3 Reasons Why You Should Never, Ever Cut Your Cuticles

Cutting or pushing down nail cuticles used to be standard practice in nail salons because it provided a more aesthetically pleasing look. A cuticle is the part of the skin tissue at the base of the nail that seals the nail to the skin. Some people have a nervous habit to pick at this area, since these little pieces of skin tend to catch on fabrics, thus calling attention to themselves. However, the practice of trimming cuticles is falling by the wayside as increased awareness about foot hygiene is spreading.

cuticle trimming

Do you trim your cuticles? You should consider refraining from this practice.
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Onychomycosis in Children: 3 Alternative Conditions Possibly Disguised as Toenail Fungus

Pediatricians, dermatologists and podiatrists are often alarmed at the number of children who arrive at their practices having been subjected to oral antifungal drugs and topical treatments for nail fungus, when it turns out they did not have nail fungus at all. Self-diagnosis mat not only be costly, but it exposes patients to a lot of unnecessary side effects and does not treat the real problem. According to Dr. Robert A. Silverman, a pediatric dermatologist at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, there are three conditions often mistaken for toenail fungus.

child foot infections

The SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer is a device that helps protect kids from toenail fungus recurrence and other foot infections.
Image Source: Flickr user Nina Matthews Photography

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Yellow Nails: Toenail Fungus or Onychatrophia?

Onychatrophia is one of the conditions nail technicians look out for in their salons. This fancy word describes damage to the nail matrix that causes the nails to waste away. The Clarion explains, “When a nail is atrophied, it loses its healthy look, begins to shrink in size, and may eventually wither away all  together.” If left untreated, the nail will die. Often times, onychatrophia is believed to be toenail fungus.

nail atrophy

Damage to the nail matrix cells can lead to full nail atrophy and loss.
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Home Remedies: Is Salt an Effective Cure for Toenail Fungus?

In the absence of medical studies regarding home remedies for toenail fungus, there is certainly no shortage of people who are willing to experiment on themselves. On one blog devoted to home remedies, a patient going by the name of “Rebecca” says she was on Lamisil for six months, which “helped, but didn’t cure” her toenail fungus — and that it was, in fact, a combination of tea tree oil and Epsom salt that cleared up her infection. She says she applied tea tree oil directly to the nail twice a day and put Epsom salts in her socks and shoes. Seven other toenail fungus sufferers vouched for the use of Epsom salts in treating toenail fungus. Perhaps you’re wondering, “Should I try this toenail fungus cure?”

toenail fungus cure

Does salt work as a natural cure for toenail fungus? Find out here!
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Do I Need a Prescription to Treat Toenail Fungus, and How Much Will it Cost?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that crumbly, yellow, thick nails spell toenail fungus. Of course, if you want an official diagnosis, the average cost of visiting a podiatrist generally ranges from $50 to $100. Plus you’ll need to find a podiatrist who is accepting new patients and finagle your work schedule to make an appointment. It’s true – going to a doctor can be a pain! But what can you do? Do you need a prescription, or are there over-the-counter medications for toenail fungus? We’ve got the answer, and we weigh the costs.

OTC toenail fungus

Going to a foot clinic may not be feasible for every patient suffering from toenail fungus.
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Podiatrists and Sufferers Know Toenail Fungus Is More Than a "Cosmetic" Concern

Janet Murphy of Johnstown, Colorado loved to swim — that is, until she was sidelined with toenail fungus afflicting her two big toes. She was dismayed to learn that affordable “solutions” like tea tree oil didn’t work and medication carried the risk of liver damage. However, Janet was determined to rid herself of the unsightly – and potentially dangerous – fungus, leading her to seek laser treatment for her toenails.

toenail fungus laser

This photo by Mark Leffingwell shows a toenail fungus laser in action. Image Source:

For patients with similar stories, the PinPointe FootLaser treatment for toenail fungus is a beacon of hope. However, health insurance companies say that toenail fungus is merely a “cosmetic” issue, which is their rationale for refusing to cover treatment. Even though 81% of patients are said to show improvement with this treatment, patients have to pay around $950 out-of-pocket due to insurers’ misguided policies.

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A Surprising Side Effect: Nail Fungus Cream a Potential Cure for HIV

Drug side effects are usually associated with unpleasantries like diarrhea, headaches, and nausea. However, a team of Rutgers Medical School researchers discovered an unlikely side effect for a drug commonly prescribed to treat toenail fungus: HIV cell death. At least, that’s the case in cell cultures. Clinical human trials are still needed, but the early findings are very exciting for scientists. Could the cure for HIV really have been beneath our noses the whole time?

HIV treatment

Existing HIV treatments can keep infected cells at bay, but cannot kill them. Image Source:

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