According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, toenail fungus is an infection caused by fungus and marked by thicker nails of a darker color, pain and often an unpleasant smell. Toenail fungus is also called onychomycosis. Mayo Clinic describes an infection of fungus that is located on the skin between the toes and surrounding areas as athlete's foot.
The American Podiatric Medical Association, or APMA, cautions that toenail fungus can be present for years yet remain ignored as it is often painless and grows gradually. Although, those with mild cases can try cleaning the area daily and applying an over-the-counter anti-fungal, the APMA advises that all cases of toenail fungus be seen by a doctor. Severe cases can impede daily functioning and mobility. Although toenail fungus can be cured with topical and oral medications and the removal of diseased skin and nails, it can return. Those who are most susceptible to the ailment are diabetics, people with immune-deficiency disorders or circulatory problems and those who sweat profusely or are prone to athlete's foot.
Mayo Clinic only advises seeking medical assistance when all attempts at home remedies fail. Because toenail fungus returns, frequent examination of the toes and feet for signs of infection along with a healthy hygiene regiment can increase early detection and aid in preventing recurring infections.