A fungus is an organism that lives in warm moist areas. Fungus of the toenails is a common problem that can affect people of all ages, although it most commonly affects individuals who are older. It also affects those with impaired immune systems, such as diabetics or those with other immunodeficiencies.

Toenail fungus often begins as an infection in the skin called tinea pedis (also known as athlete's foot). The fungus often starts under the nail fold at the end of the nail. Over time it grows underneath the nail and causes changes to its appearance, such as a yellow or brownish discoloration. It can also cause thickening and deformity of the toenail. It can lead to ingrown toenails.

Treatment options can include a topical medication applied to the toenail, which has a low success rate versus an oral medication which has a higher success rate in eradicating the fungal nail infection. Often a nail clipping is taken (called a toenail biopsy) and sent to a laboratory to make sure that there is a fungus living in the toenail. Additionally, if oral antifungal treatment is considered, blood work may be ordered to make sure you are healthy enough to be treated. However, because the toenails generally grow slowly, it make take 6-12 month before the nail infection clears once treatment is started.

Toenail Fungus