The term “toenail fungus” refers to a fungal infection that affects the toenail, causing yellowing, browning or whitening of the nail, crumbling of the nail, swelling, thickened nails, and eventually the loss of the toenail. Toenail fungus is difficult to treat because toenails grow very slowly, and the infection may have spread down the nail to the nail bed. Cause We live in a world of fungus. Wherever conditions are warm and moist, there is fungus. The ideal spot is in the shower areas of public facilities such as school shower rooms, swimming pool showers and in health clubs. Skin becomes weakened if tight fitting shoes are worn, making it more susceptible to develop cracks or tiny tears where the fungi may enter. The condition is easily spread via contact from one person to the next, and you may even spread the fungus yourself from one toe to the next. If the immune system is compromised in any way, this will also create the right environment for fungi to live, and thus toenail fungus and other types of infections may result. Treatment and Prevention Medical treatment of toenail fungus is recommended because the nail may need to be removed to allow a new one to grow in. However, most of the time, treatment may not involve removing the nail. Fungal infections indicate a compromised immune system so oral medication may be prescribed. Treatment should also include these preventative steps: 1. If showering at public facilities, always wear sandals. 2. Change socks frequently, especially if your feet are often sweaty. 3. Never borrow someone else’s towel. 4. Wash your hands after touching the infected toe.