Men’s Health: Toenail Fungus | Jamelah Lemon, DPM



Men’s Health: Toenail Fungus:

Its summertime and one of the best feelings in the world is walking on the beach barefoot while feeling the warm sand between your toes. However for most people, they are too embarrassed because of one of the most common conditions we see in      podiatry…Particularly for men, it’s like a dirty little secret . . . They have toenail fungus.

Men are more prone to getting fungus in their toenails due to practicing certain behaviors that increase their risk; such as wearing closed toed shoes, walking barefoot in public showers or restrooms, or wearing damp socks from excess sweating. Other risk factors include advanced age, poor circulation, diabetes, smoking poor immune systems and some people are just more genetically predisposed to the condition.

Toenail fungus is caused when fungi gets underneath thenail causing an infection. It can make them appear thick, crumbling, dark, have an abnormal shape and they can also develop an foul smelling odor. This can be embarrassing and make men avoid wearing sandals or flip flops. If the infection progresses the nail can get so thick they become difficult to cut and painful when wearing shoes.

There are several myths about treatment for foot fungus from Listerine, bleach, tea tree oil, onion peels, Vick’s vapor rub and etc. There is no supporting literature that these treatments work. They will not get rid of the infection but your feet will smell like bleach or Vick’s vapor rubJ.

The good news is there are several treatment options available. Prior to starting any treatment, you should have a podiatrist perform a nail biopsy to make sure you actually have fungus because it could be something else. If a fungal infection is confirmed your podiatrist can recommend the best treatment options for you which could be an oral or topical medication or combination of both. There are a lot of over the counter medications that have no effect on toenail fungus so it is important that you are prescribed a medication from your podiatrist that is FDA approved. If the diseased is severe it can take many months to get rid of the infection so it is important to be consistent with the treatment. In some cases surgical removal of the nail can be performed. The nail can be removed temporarily to allow a topical medication to better penetrate the nail bed. If several treatment options have failed and the nail is very painful, permanent removal of the nail is also an option.

When you are treating foot fungus, you also need to treat the shoes. Fungus harbors in damp, dark moist environments so it can still thrive in those steel-toed boots even if you treated it in your toenails and/or skin. If you don’t get a good antifungal spray for your shoes, the infection can return and start a vicious cycle.

When you get fungus in your nails or skin you are more prone to getting it again so here are some pointers to avoid reinfection:

  1. Wash your feet daily with soap and water, dry them well and use a good foot powder
  2. Never wear anyone else’s shoes
  3. Wear breathable, clean, white cotton socks (exceptions for special occasions)
  4. Wear shoes that fit well and are made of materials that breathe
  5. Change shoes or socks more than once a day
  6. Avoid walking barefoot in public showers, hotels and gyms and wear shower shoes
  7. Disinfect instruments used to cut toenails or any home pedicure tools

So men don’t be afraid to kick off your shoes and have your feet checked for fungus. You should not feel embarrassed or ashamed because it is a common condition that affects many people but it is a treatable condition. Come visit us at Physicians Footcare for an evaluation so we can get your toes back in the sand.


Jamelah Lemon, DPM,                                                                                                                                                                                  Physicians Footcare, LLC