Bare feet are exposed to microscopic organisms that live in warm, moist environments, like showers....
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Bare feet are exposed to microscopic organisms that live in warm, moist environments, like showers. The organisms that usually cause toenail fungal infections are called dermatophytes. Fungal spores enter through tiny cuts or work through small separations between the nail and nail bed. They then bloom into tiny fungal filaments or hypha that destroy the nail from below. Fungal infections are more common in toenails than fingernails, possibly because the dark, moist environment inside shoes helps fungus to grow. At first the infection may only cause a spot on the toenail. But over time it can cause ugly scaling and cracking, and painful splitting of the nail. Fungal infection of the toenails, called onychomycosis, can be treated with oral medications, topical medications you apply to the infected nail, antifungal nail lacquer, and - in extreme cases - surgical removal of the nail.