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!

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Toenail Fungus Won’t Clear:

sad feet

Has chronic toenail fungus got you down? Find out why you may be having such a hard time getting rid of it.
Image source: Flickr user Lourdes S.

1. You fell for the topical gimmick.

To be effective, the treatment must reach the nail bed, located beneath the nail plate — which makes topical treatments generally ineffective. “Don’t waste your money on over-the-counter products,” advises podiatrist Zachary L. Chattler, D.P.M., an instructor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins. “Topical treatments wipe off easily and have trouble penetrating the toenail to reach the nail bed.”

2. You lost the oral medication lottery.

Oral medication — though tough on the liver — only has a marginal success rate for at least a third of those who take it. One study found that 15 to 20 out of 100 people taking antifungal pills will develop another infection within a year. For reasons that are not well understood, oral antifungals are less effective in people over the age of 65.

3. You were a non-compliant patient.

Antifungal regimens aren’t easy. You need to stick to them exactly in order for them to work. This may mean applying tea tree oil every single day, maybe even twice a day, for six months. It may mean taking daily antifungal pills for four months, even if it looks like the fungus is “clearing up.” Some courses of therapy last 18 months, so it’s not surprising that many patients would become disheartened and abandon treatment.

4. You’re too impatient.

Regardless of the treatment, one has to wait for the fungal nail to grow out and a healthy, new nail to grow in, which takes months. It’s possible that your treatment has worked, but you had unrealistic expectations about what “treatment” can and can’t do. Some laser toenail fungus removal practitioners promise “improved appearance” and “clearing of the nail,” but it may not be good enough to bust out your feet in sandals just yet. Don’t worry…we won’t leave you high and dry. There are some cosmetic treatments for fungal nails that you can read about here.

5. There is a genetic predisposition to becoming infected by fungi.

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, the tendency to develop recurring fungal infections is a genetic weakness. We all have something we’re predisposed to, genetically — whether it be allergies, stomach ulcers, or foot fungus. The AOCD explains that some people’s skin “cannot recognize the fungus as foreign and get rid of it. After having a fungus there for a while the body’s immune system learns to live with the fungus and no longer tries to get rid of it.”

6. You mistakenly treated your foot fungus with cortisone cream.

Cortisone cream is one of those over-the-counter panaceas people tend to use for any sort of skin malady. Have a red patch or spot on the nail? Slap some cortisone on it… or not! While eczema may be treated with cortisone, it is important that foot fungus like athlete’s foot and toenail fungus not be treated with this type of cream. It’s basically like steroids for fungus! “If you apply a cortisone cream to athlete’s foot, the fungal infection will worsen and spread,” cautions Nails Magazine.

7. You unknowingly picked up the fungus from your favorite salon or spa.

The source of nail fungus is not always readily apparent — especially if you’re the type of person who loves being barefoot. Did it come from a swimming pool deck? A locker room? The backyard grass? A motel shower? Your friend’s house? If you keep visiting the place you contracted the fungus with your bare feet, it’s likely you’ll keep getting re-infected, despite treatment. Nail salons and spas are often-overlooked hotspots for toenail fungus.  “Some patients may recall a dirty nail salon,” says  Connecticut Podiatrist Pedram A. Hendizadeh, DPM, FACFAS. He adds that fungus can be found just about anywhere, most commonly “in gym locker rooms, hotel rooms, and nail salons.”

8. You forgot to sterilize your old toenail clippers.

Oops! Fungal spores can live on surfaces like nail clippers for weeks. Sanitizing your toenail clippers with rubbing alcohol of UV light — or just tossing out old clippers and buying a new pair (specially designed to cut thick toenails) for less than $10.

9. You put nail polish over the fungus.

Toenail fungus is unsightly. Lots of people try to mask it with nail polish while they wait for the nail to clear. Podiatrists often advise their patients against this for several reasons. While nail polish doesn’t cause toenail fungus, it does contribute to the problem by weakening the nail with chemicals like toluene and formaldehyde. According to Tanglewood Foot Specialists, “This damage weakens the toenails and make them more susceptible to developing a fungus infection.” They recommend using Dr.’s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish products, which replace harmful chemicals with vitamins and natural antifungals instead.

10. Your shoes are tainted with fungal spores.

Contaminated footwear is a major source of re-infection. That’s what our very own Adam Ullman ultimately — with the help of a very savvy podiatrist — discovered as the source of his chronic toenail fungus recurrence. Other sources may include dirty bedsheets, towels, and socks. “A fungus sheds ‘spores’, like tiny seeds, which wait for the right moment to grow into new fungus,” reports the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. “The most common place for these spores to collect is in shoes. Therefore, after effective treatment, a fungus may recur quickly where spores are present.”

The Bottom Line on Getting Rid of Chronic Toenail Fungus:

Adam Ullman developed the SteriShoe UV Shoe Sanitizer to kill 99.9% of fungal spores in just one 45-minute cycle. Use the device daily for protection against harmful pathogens that are harbored in your shoes. For just over $100, you can finally sanitize your shoes in your own home and have the peace of mind that you are no longer sticking your feet into gross Petri dishes of pathogens. UV light also kills Staph, MRSA, flu virus, and other harmful microbes. Try one with a 30-day risk-free trial today!