Foot Care
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Why You Shouldn’t Leave Toenail Fungus Untreated: Long-Term Effects

Untreated toenail fungus can lead to long-term issues if not treated quickly. Read on to see the long-term effects if left untreated.

Published on
November 4, 2022
A males infected big toe with yellow crust, dried skin and dried blood around the cuticle and base of nail

Nail fungus is a common problem most people will have at some point in their life. It’s usually not serious, but untreated toenail fungus can lead to long-term effects and potentially permanent damage.  

Common Causes of Toenail Fungus

As it sounds, nail fungus is a fungus that infects your nail. Anyone can get toenail fungus, but some activities, habits, and health conditions can increase your risk. 

Nail Injuries and Other Infections

You typically have bacteria and other organisms on your feet, but they rarely cause any problems. However, these fungi can invade your nail through tiny cracks or injuries and cause an infection where they feed on your nails and burrow into your skin. Other fungal infections like athlete’s foot can spread across your skin and get into injured or cracked nails. 

Wet and Sweaty Feet

Fungi grow in warm and damp areas, so you’re more likely to get toenail fungus if your feet are constantly hot and sweaty, like when you:

  • Don’t change your socks after a workout.
  • Wear tight shoes with poor circulation and non-wicking socks.
  • Have a condition that makes you sweat a lot.

Public Locker Rooms

Nail fungus can also spread from person to person and through contaminated surfaces or personal items. Walking barefoot in public showers, pools, hot tubs, saunas, and locker rooms can lead to an infection, especially if you have a crack in your nail. You can also pick it up from shared sports equipment, towels, or linens.

Other Chronic Conditions

Fungal infections are harder to fight when you have a low immune system and other ongoing conditions. These infections are more common in older people and those with HIV, cancer, diabetes, peripheral artery disease, or psoriasis.

Toenail Fungus Symptoms

Fungal nail infections happen slowly, so you might not notice any symptoms initially. The first sign is often a white or yellow spot on your nail, and as it gets worse, you’ll see your toenails become:

  • Yellow, black, green, or white
  • Thick
  • Misshapen
  • Cracked 
  • Brittle or crumbly
  • Painful

Eventually, the infection spreads to your other nails and the skin around your toes. Your skin might feel hot, itchy, or burning and may be red, swollen, and cracked. 

What Happens if You Leave Toenail Fungus Untreated

Nail fungus isn’t usually problematic for most people but can lead to potential complications. The risk of untreated toenail fungus can range from nail separation to nerve damage and other bacterial infections. 

Separation of Toenail From Nail Bed

As an untreated fungal infection spreads through your nail, the tissue directly underneath your nail plate thickens and changes shape. Fungal debris builds up, which causes your nail to lift, although it’s typically painless. Once it lifts off, your nail can’t reattach, and a new nail cannot grow back from that spot, leading to permanent damage.  

Itchiness and Pain, Especially in Shoes or While Walking

Fungi that spread to the skin around your toes can cause intense itchiness. Walking can apply pressure to an infected nail or cause your shoes to rub, leading to significant foot pain. 

Spread of Fungus to Other Nails

An infection usually starts on one toe but can spread to your other nails. Dirty nail clippers, nail files, or improper hand washing after touching your feet can spread the infection to your fingernails. Once the infection spreads to many nails, it can be hard to treat and cure.  

Development of Bacterial Infection and Toenail Removal

Chronic foot conditions also increase your risk of other infections. If it spreads to the skin around your nails, cracks can develop where bacteria can enter and cause an infection. These can range from rashes, boils, abscesses, or deep tissue infections and are more likely to happen if you have diabetes or other chronic conditions.  

How to Treat a Toenail Fungal Infection Properly

Nail fungus does not go away without treatment, and it can be challenging to treat and cure, especially with home remedies or over-the-counter products. However, your foot specialist can provide effective treatment. 

Prescription Topical treatments

Various antifungal products, like nail polish, are available at your local pharmacy. While these products might help your nail appearance, they will not cure the infection. Instead, see your foot specialist for effective prescription topical treatments. 

They can treat a mild infection with prescription antifungal cream and nail trimming. Antifungal medications can help kill infections on top of the nail before they invade deeper tissue. You need to apply them regularly and pay special attention to your habits.

Antifungal Medications

The best nail fungus treatment is prescription antifungal pills you take by mouth. In most cases, you need to take these pills between three and six months. If you have a severe infection, your doctor or foot specialist might need to remove your toenail. They might apply a chemical to your nail to make it fall off or do a surgical procedure to remove it. 

Personal Care Habits

The most important way to treat and prevent nail fungus is to keep your feet clean and dry. Wash your feet with soap and water and thoroughly dry them, especially after a workout. Wear shoes that have some room and let your feet breathe.

Wear clean socks every day and change your socks after a workout. Breathable, wicking socks to keep your feet dry and control microbes are best. The official sock of The Toe Bro use silver technology to control bacteria and lycra cuffs that help circulation.

Other preventive foot care tips include:

  • Treat other infections like athlete’s foot. 
  • Wear shower shoes in public places to protect your feet.    
  • Use fresh linens every day.
  • Avoid sharing towels, washcloths, shoes, or socks with other people.
  • Get rid of old shoes that might have fungal contamination.

Maintain Healthy Nails by Prioritizing Foot Care

Toenail fungus can be painful and unsightly and hard to treat and cure. However, you can prevent infections by keeping clean feet and proper foot care habits. If you have any concerns, talk to a podiatrist near you, and see how The Toe Bro can help you maintain healthy nails and feet.

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Related blog post

7 Foot Care Tips for Better Foot Health

Your feet work hard. They take several thousand steps a day to get you from point A to point B — all while bearing the weight of your body. You stand on them a long time and put them into shoes that may not be the best fit. Unfortunately, these conditions can eventually cause a range of foot problems. So how can you take care of your feet and avoid chronic foot issues? This article will cover seven excellent foot care tips to keep your feet healthy.

Foot Care Tips To Keep Your Feet Healthy

It's important to know how to take care of your feet to keep them healthy for years to come. You can implement these seven tips to build a good foot care routine and avoid foot issues.

1. Avoid Wearing Tight Shoes

Shoe fit is very important to your foot health. 

Tight shoes restrict your blood flow, causing poor circulation that damages your feet in the long run. They may also cause foot pain that could become chronic. 

Over time, you may notice calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, and corns on your feet. They may even deform your feet with conditions like hammertoes and bunions.

2. Wear Shoes With Arch Support

Once you've got comfortable shoes that fit, you need to make sure your arch is adequately supported. Your arch does it all — it supports your body weight, propels you forward when you move, and absorbs shock anytime your foot hits the ground. Over time, your arch can become strained or weakened from the stress.

Arch supports keep your arch in good condition because they:

  • Distribute pressure evenly
  • Support the lower body
  • Help with alignment
  • Prevent arch trauma
  • Provide balance and stability
  • Prevent and lessen foot pain

So really, everyone can benefit from arch supports. Look for shoe brands that are known for providing good arch support. You may benefit from a custom shoe insert if you have shoes that fit well but don't provide enough arch support.

Also, try to avoid wearing flats and flip-flops every day. Although they are comfortable, they don't support your arch enough and may lead to a foot injury down the line.

3. Keep Your Feet Clean and Mostly Dry

Feet often sweat throughout the day, providing a perfect breeding ground for harmful fungi. So pay special attention to your feet when you shower or bathe. Good foot hygiene goes a long way toward eliminating foot odor. 

Be careful! You don't want to soak your feet in hot water or leave them in the water for too long. This may cause dry skin, which leads to skin irritation and flaking. 

After you clean your feet thoroughly, be sure to dry them. Don't be shy — get in between your toes to prevent fungal infections like athlete's foot.

4. Inspect Regularly for Foot Ailments

Practicing a good foot care routine allows you to catch any potential issues before they arise. Inspect your feet for any changes daily, and look out for any sores, cuts, swelling, or infected toenails.

Use antiseptic and healing creams if you notice any cuts, and go to the podiatrist immediately if you have unexpected swelling or infected toenails. 

After all, prevention is always the best cure.

5. Use Nail Clippers Correctly

We may tend to use nail clippers to clip and shape our toenails. But this can cause damage to the tender skin of your nail bed. 

It's important to use nail clippers correctly. Make sure they're stainless steel, so the blades stay sharp for longer. A dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. 

Use the nail clippers only to trim the toenail straight across. You then want to use a nail file or emery board to gently smooth and round the corners. 

You can also use the nail file or emery board to push your cuticles back. However, you want to avoid cutting them, so they don't split or bleed.

6. Use Moisturizing Cream at Night

Chronic dry skin can cause skin irritation and flakiness. To avoid this, use moisturizing cream every night right after you dry your feet off. 

You can use creams, lotions, or even petroleum jelly. These are all nourishing emollients that sink into the skin and create a barrier to protect it. Your feet will be noticeably softer and well-hydrated. 

You can even give your feet a gentle massage as you apply your moisturizer, which can help stretch the tendons and contribute to your foot's muscular health. 

Afterward, you can put on socks or wrap your feet in plastic wrap for at least an hour for better lotion absorption, especially if you have dry skin.

But don't put any moisturizer between your toes to prevent a fungal or bacterial infection. Remember, you want to keep that area dry.

7. Don't Perform DIY Surgery on Ingrown Nails

We all know that ingrown toenails are annoying and even downright painful, and it's tempting to do a little DIY surgery to get rid of them. However, this is dangerous. 

Many people dig out ingrown nails with nail clippers or use floss to "splint" the toenail. These home remedies create a wide opening for harmful bacteria to get into the skin and develop into a nasty infection.

Go see your podiatrist instead. They are experts in all things feet and will safely get rid of your ingrown toenail in sanitary conditions. They can also prevent ingrown nails from regrowing and causing issues in the future.

Schedule Periodic Foot Exams and Invest in Advanced Foot Products

It's important to practice proper foot care. This includes wearing comfortable shoes, practicing good foot hygiene, and using the proper tools and creams.

You also want to visit your podiatrist for periodic foot exams to prevent the development of foot problems. They can also improve your foot health by performing procedures like ingrown toenail removal. These steps will ensure that your feet stay healthy and happy for many years.

Make sure you use products made for your feet. Here at The Toe Bro, we know how important it is for you to take care of your feet. That's why we provide high-quality advanced foot products to tackle and prevent a host of foot problems afflicting people today. Feel free to visit our website and add products to your routine today. You won't regret investing in your foot health.

How To Prevent Ingrown Toenails Effectively

You may have heard of ingrown toenails and how annoying and painful they can be. They can eventually cause serious issues for your feet, so it's important to know how to prevent ingrown toenails.

But what causes ingrown toenails, and how can you fix them if you've already got them? We'll answer these questions in this article.

How To Prevent Ingrown Toenails: 3 Tips

Ingrown toenails occur when the corner or side of your nails grow into your toes' soft nail beds. They may also form when the skin on the side of your nails grows over the nail edges. They can cause swelling, tenderness and pain, and even severe infection.

This common condition can occur to anyone who doesn't care for their feet properly. However, teenagers and people with diabetes or other medical conditions that cause poor blood circulation in the feet are more likely to have ingrown nails. 

Thankfully, you can prevent ingrown toenails. One of the best ways to avoid ingrown toenails is to practice proper foot care. There are three main ways you can take care of your feet.

1. Inspect Your Foot Regularly

Prevention is the best cure, so make sure you inspect your feet regularly to prevent any potential issues before they arise. You may be able to spot a nail curving improperly and trim it before it grows into your skin.

2. Keep the Feet Clean and Dry

Feet sweat throughout the day, creating perfect conditions for harmful fungi to multiply. This can also soften your nail bed, making it easier for your toenails to sink into the skin. 

Pay special attention to your feet when you take a bath or shower. Clean in between the toes and around the toenails thoroughly with warm soapy water. Dry your feet completely once you're done, and don't forget the same places you washed.

3. Visit Your Foot Doctor Regularly

Your feet are just as important as the rest of your body, so make sure you visit your podiatrist for regular checkups. 

They will be able to catch any issues in the early stages and remedy them. They'll also show you additional ways to care for your feet to avoid common foot conditions.

But how can you prevent ingrown toenails specifically?

Steps To Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are often caused by excessive pressure, improper nail trimming, and genetics. Thankfully, there are specific steps you can take to avoid these three conditions and ingrown nails by extension.

Avoid Tight-Fitting Shoes

Your shoe fit directly impacts your foot health and the chance of growing ingrown toenails. 

Tight shoes cause ingrown nails by exerting excessive pressure on your toes. They will force the nails into the skin of your nail bed or make them curve in on themselves. 

So make sure you've got comfortable shoes that fit properly. You should be able to fit a finger between the top of your toes and your shoe.

You may also choose open-toed shoes often to eliminate the risk of pinching or pressure. However, you should wear protective shoes like steel-toed sneakers or boots if you're doing activities that may cause trauma to your toe.

Stop Improper Nail Trimming

Many people use toenail clippers to trim and shape their toenails into a curved shape, but this actually damages the toes. You may think that curved toenails look attractive, but they increase your risk of getting an ingrown toenail. 

Instead of curving the toenails to match your toe shape, you should trim them straight across. You can use a nail file or emery board to round the corners gently.

You should also trim your nails to the proper length, just to the tip of the toe. Toenails that are too long will begin to curl in on themselves and dig into your skin, and pressure from your shoes may cause too-short toenails to grow into your nail tissue.

Understand Your Genetic Predisposition

You may be surprised to learn that the tendency for ingrown toenails can be inherited. How so?

Well, your toe and nail shape are passed down genetically. You may also inherit conditions that affect the toe shape or foot circulation, such as arthritis and diabetes.

Ingrown toenails may occur due to these genetic factors. So while ingrown nails themselves are not genetic, these genetic factors can make you more susceptible if someone in your family line suffers from ingrown toenails. 

When you know that you're genetically predisposed to ingrown nails, you can take active steps to prevent them before they even form.

Ingrown Toenail Treatment

It's important to know how to fix an ingrown toenail, so you don't risk excessive pain and infection. There are two simple ways you can treat ingrown nails.

Soak in Warm Water

Soak the affected foot in warm water several times a day. This will keep the nail and skin around it soft and hydrated, preventing the nail from digging into the skin too firmly.

If this doesn't work after a few days, you'll need to see a foot doctor to treat your ingrown nail.

See a Foot Specialist

Don't try DIY surgery on your ingrown toenail. Go see your foot specialist, also known as a podiatrist. They will know how to treat the ingrown toenail.

They may prescribe an antibiotic cream if they detect any signs of infection. They'll also give you pain relievers if your symptoms are severe.

They may suggest surgical removal of part or all of the infected ingrown toenail. There's no need to worry — the procedure is straightforward, and you'll be numbed for the entire process.

Avoid Painful Ingrown Toenails by Maintaining Your Foot Health

Ingrown toenails can be painful and cause a host of foot problems. Thankfully, you can avoid ingrown nails by avoiding tight-fitting shoes, trimming your nails properly, and understanding your genetic predisposition. If you've already got an ingrown toenail, you can soak it in warm water or visit your foot specialist for professional treatment.

Maintaining foot health keeps your toes and feet looking and feeling their best. One of the ways you can maintain foot health is to use tools and products specially designed for the foot. 

The Toe Bro offers a wide range of high-quality, specialized foot products to prevent and treat common foot conditions. Take a look at our collection to begin your journey to happy, healthy feet today!

Preliminary Signs of a Foot Infection and What To Do About It

Foot infection is a painful condition that can impair your mobility. It affects either a part of or, the entire foot. Your foot can get infected by microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, or viruses. They can enter and infect the skin at the site of a foot injury through a cut, scratch, or wound. 

The most common fungal foot infections include athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.Warm, moist environments and excessive foot sweat dampen your socks and shoes. Such conditions favor bacterial and fungal growth, especially in your toenails and between your toes, increasing your chances of developing a foot infection. 

Certain diseases can also increase your risk of foot infections. Diabetes can cause complications like foot ulcers and wounds on the soles if left untreated. These wounds can get infected by bacteria or fungi. Conditions like ingrown toenails, which occur when toenails grow into the skin, can also cause foot infections. If you have ingrown nails, the site where the toenail enters the skin is prone to a fungal or bacterial foot infection. 

You may also notice signs of foot infection after surgery. It is a rare complication of surgery for foot or ankle fractures, especially in people with a weakened immune system. 

When infection occurs, you must treat the infected foot immediately. If you leave bacterial foot infection untreated, it can lead to cellulitis, a skin infection on your foot that spreads to your blood and lymph nodes. A human papillomavirus infection in your feet can lead to plantar warts, which are small, rough growths on your heels and other weight-bearing parts of your feet. 

So, it’s critical to recognize the common signs of foot infection and available treatments.

Common Signs of a Foot Infection

Regardless of the cause, foot infections show the following common signs and symptoms:

Change in Skin Color

If your foot is infected, check for changes in skin color. One of the most common signs of infection is redness. It occurs because more blood gushes to the infected area, so your immune cells can fight off the infection.

If you have a fungal infection like athlete’s foot, you’ll notice white, flaky skin patches between your toes. A bacterial infection such as cellulitis causes a reddish patch, streaks, or a spotted rash on the infected foot. 

Toenail fungus can also cause nail discoloration. You’ll see white or yellow spots under the tip of the affected toenail. Toenails can become more discolored, thick, or rough if the infection worsens.

Pain or Soreness

Foot infections can be painful. When you have a cut or wound, the infected area may become tender and sore, which may be limited to the infected area. But your entire foot can hurt if the infection spreads. The pain may affect your ability to walk and hinder your daily activities.

Warm to the Touch

Infected skin may feel warmer or hotter than the rest of your foot due to the inflammation of skin tissues caused by foot infection. It may be a symptom of cellulitis or bacterial infection. 


Swelling is a common symptom of foot infection. Inflammation in the infected area increases water retention and build-up of immune cells, which leads to swelling. The swelling may be limited to the infected part, such as your toe. If the infection worsens, the swelling may spread to your entire foot. It may also cause the skin on your foot to look shiny or waxy.

Some other signs of infection include foot odor and pus formation in an open wound. You may also develop a fever or increased body temperature. 

What Should You Do?

If you develop a foot infection, here’s what you can do to treat it:

Maintain Cleanliness of Feet

To keep foot infections away, you must maintain foot health and hygiene. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid wearing tight shoes as they crowd your toes and increase sweating. They also restrict the blood flow to your feet and increase your risk of foot infection. 
  • Let your feet breathe. Wear sandals or shoes made with breathable materials. They prevent sweat build-up and keep your feet well-ventilated.
  • Avoid wearing nylon socks. Wear breathable, quick-drying socks made from materials like cotton. Also, change your socks regularly.
  • Wash your feet daily. Rinse your feet with warm water and wash them with an antibacterial or antifungal soap. Dry your feet thoroughly, particularly between your toes. If you’re prone to fungal infection, sprinkle antifungal foot powder on your feet and in your shoes or socks.
  • Cut your toenails straight to prevent ingrown toenails. 
  • Carry an extra pair of socks and keep alternate shoes for different activities to keep your feet dry and clean. 
  • Avoid walking barefoot in warm, humid conditions, especially in public places such as public pools, showers, or locker rooms. Protect your feet by wearing sandals or shoes.
  • Avoid sharing shoes, socks, bedding, or towels with others because foot infection can spread among people. 

Consult With a Foot Doctor for Treatment Options

Foot infection can worsen if it's left untreated. Contact a podiatrist or foot doctor for immediate medical attention and treatment. Treatment for foot infection includes: 

  • Oral or topical antibiotics for foot infection
  • Antifungal medications, including pills, powders, or creams 
  • Medical dressing on the infected part
  • Surgery or removal of the infected part of your ingrown toenails
  • Cryotherapy or other treatments to get rid of plantar warts
  • Vacuum-assisted closure therapy for diabetic foot ulcers

Before foot surgery, your doctor may give you antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. Also, diseases like diabetes can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of infection after surgery. 

What You Can Do To Reduce the Risk of Foot Infections

Simple steps can help you prevent and reduce your risk of developing foot infections. Wash your feet regularly, keep them clean and dry, protect them in humid places, change your shoes and socks frequently, and trim your toenails regularly. These preventative measures will help you avoid future foot infections.

Apart from this, avoid wearing tight shoes. Ensure that you get the correct size. Also, wear high-quality, moisture-wicking socks like the official sock of The Toe Bro. These socks allow your feet to breathe and remain infection-free.

For any concerns regarding foot infections, consult with a podiatrist near you. They’ll help you manage your condition. To improve your foot health and hygiene, the Toe Bro is here to help you with superior-quality products for complete foot care.