Dr. Jerome Cawthon

...always time for someone in pain.

2033 Greystone Park

Jackson, TN  38305

  (731) 660-3664

If you or someone you know is having foot problems call today (731) 660-3664.     Have your heels been bothering you?  Is that ingrown nail bothering you again?    You can call us or send an E-mail requesting an appointment!    Download and print the New Patient form, then fill it out and bring it with you to save time!  We care for your feet!

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Toenail fungus is a  common condition that disfigures and sometimes destroys the nail. There are several different fungi that can infect the nail. These fungi thrive in the warm, dark, moist  environments; such as a shoe. As the fungus grows, it feeds on the nail plate, destroying and disfiguring it. In most cases, the infecting toenail fungus belongs to a group of fungi called dermatophytes, which also cause athletes foot.

The incidence of nail fungus increases with age. It is relatively rare in children, affecting only about one out of every 200 people younger than 18. The number increases to approximately 50% of people over age 70. For some people, toenail fungus is a cosmetically embarrassing problem that they cover up by wearing closed-toe shoes or layers of toenail polish.

Nail polish, tight fitting hosiery and tight fitting shoes increase the likelihood of toenail fungus. Toenail fungus may spread from foot to foot on the floors of showers and locker rooms. The condition also tends to affect persons with chronic illnesses, such as HIV or diabetes, as well as individuals with circulatory problems that decrease blood flow to the toes. Although, many people have no clear predisposing factors.

The big toe and the little toe are the most likely to develop a toenail fungus. This may be due to the  the big toe and little toe constantly being exposed to the friction from the sides of shoes.


Typically, when a toenail develops a fungal infection, it turns yellow or brown and becomes thickened. Debris may also accumulate under the nail, especially at the sides and tip. The nail may become crumble so thick that they are hard to cut. They may even become so thick that the toe feels uncomfortable or painful especially when wearing shoes.


For the most part, the diagnosis is clinical. But if your doctor is going to prescribe an oral anti-fungal medication he or she may want to take a sample of the nail for laboratory diagnosis. The sample may be viewed under a microscope to see if fungus is apparent or it may be cultured to see if a fungus grows.


Toenail fungus rarely goes away on its own. It is usually a chronic condition that progresses to involve more of the nail and other toes. Even if the affected nail falls off spontaneously or is knocked off, the nail that grows back is usually affected by the fungus.


You can help to prevent toenail fungus by:

bulletWearing comfortable shoes and socks that "breathe" (prevents excess moisture)
bulletWearing clean socks every day
bulletWearing sandals  in community showers or locker rooms
bulletKeeping toenails trimmed
bulletWashing your feet every day and using a good-quality foot powder


There are several approaches to therapy. Depending on the individual and the circumstances involved,  treatment may begin with your doctor removing as much of the infected nail as possible. This can be done by trimming the nail with clippers and filing it down.

Also, if the infection is mild and very localized, your doctor may prescribe a medicated nail polish such as Penlac. You should apply this clear polish every day (remove weekly with rubbing alcohol) This treatment is limited in its effectiveness because of the thickness of some nails.

If the infection involves a wider area of your nail, or several nails, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication, such as Lamisil. For toenails, Lamisil is taken daily for 12 weeks.  Because of the possible side effects of the oral antifungal medication, a blood test is performed before starting the medicine to check for possible liver problems. Even after treatment with oral antifungal medication, only 36 percent to 50 percent have completely clear, normal-looking nails. After treatment of toenail fungus with oral medication approximately 10% of patients experience relapse or re-infection within one year.

In very severe cases of toenail fungus resistant to therapy, surgical removal of the nail may be necessary. But, as stated earlier, the new nail may also be infected with a fungus.

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, call today for an appointment.


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2033 Greystone Park, Jackson, TN  38305

(731) 660-3664

This Page Last Modified On Wednesday December 10, 2008

This website is for informational purposes only. Information found on this website should not be considered medical advice.