Surprise! No matter what you’ve heard, toenail fungus is not incurable.

There are people who have battled toenail fungus for twenty years or more, and most of them consistently lose the battle. They will not wear sandals, they will not show their feet, and many have developed such an aversion to letting people show their toes that it has seriously affected their quality of life. Imagine, no pool parties, no open shoes, no beaches, and no fun.

So what is this scourge that causes so much suffering? Common toenail fungus. Also known as ringworm of the nails, this condition is made up of living organisms that thrive in the completely dark, moist environment inside shoes and socks. Affected nails usually turn yellow or brown. They can be thick. They can be fragile. Sometimes some nails peel off multiple layers or crumble at the edges. Almost all toenail fungus is ugly, painful, and embarrassing. Sometimes it even emits an odor. And guess what? For all those people who refuse to go barefoot, there is more bad news. The humid and dark environment created by heavy shoes and socks only makes the situation worse.

There are dozens of solutions, old tales and traditions that address this issue. The problem is … most of them don’t work. Almost every family has a time-honored cure that they will gladly share with you. We have heard stories about vinegar, potatoes, salt water, and all kinds of food and mineral treatments. But often the very people who promote these ideas suffer from toenail fungus and have stopped treating it.

There is no shame in having toenail fungus. Anyone can be affected. Sadly, once you have it on one nail, there is a chance it will spread to all the others. Hundreds of Vietnam veterans, people who had to wear heavy combat boots for days and days, exposing their feet to heat, humidity and sweat, have struggled with unhealthy toenails ever since.

Athletes, military personnel, gymnasts, and ballet dancers are just a few of the individuals at high risk for this persistent condition. In addition, people who come into contact with affected people are at risk. Toenail fungus spreads from foot to foot, nail to nail, and person to person. This means changing rooms, pool areas, and even motel rooms pose a threat.

Once you discover yellowish or discolored nails, thickened nail beds, and the smell and blight that can accompany them, don’t hide. There are remedies available. But be careful. Some prescription products pose a greater health risk than you ever thought the fungus could cause. Research this condition. The Internet has exhausting amounts of information. Above all … don’t give up. There is hope and by next summer you may find yourself wearing sandals or even running barefoot on a sun-drenched beach.

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