What Causes Ugly Toenails?

Onychodystrophy is the medical term for ugly, damaged, dry, brittle and infected toenails, and at least 50% of the time, there is no fungus infection.

Onychomycosis is one form of Onychodystrophy that involves colonization (infection) of toenails with living fungus.

Onychodystrophy (Ugly Toenails) vs Onychomycosis (Fungus Toenails)


We are not an individual organism in control of endogenous and exogenous factors. We are an ecosystem that is being challenged endogenously and exogenously. Onychodystrophy is a precursor, canary in a cage. Onychomycosis is a secondary pathogen that manifests when it succeeds in finding a weakened host toenail to invade and colonize (usually the 1st and 5th toenails. 


  1. Who acquires them?

  • Those whose feet sweat a lot or work in or around water

  • Those who wear civilized/stylish shoes (low and narrow toe boxes)

  • Those with underpinning biomechanical pathology (Foot Type Specific)

  • Those who are stressing their feet enough to produce clinical signs and symptoms (corns, callus and deformity)

  • Those with vascular disease

  • Those who are overweight

  • Those with Athlete's Foot


On a case to case basis, Onychodystrophy results from a combination of one or more of six (6) problems that when diagnosed and treated at The Toenail, insures a cure.


  1. Shoes:  Shoes are a source of repetitive stress on toes (microtrauma). In addition, they act as the incubator for fungus and other pathogens

  2. Unhealthy Toenails: Unhealthy Toenails ingrown, deform and thicken and then become fungal

  3. Biomechanical Problems: Problems with support, stability, strength, symmetry and balance in our feet increase repetitive microtrauma to the great toenail, the most common ugly toenail underpinning by far

  4. Excess Sweating: Excess sweating provides the moisture necessary to colonize fungus and make toenails brittle. Excess sweating must be controlled.

  5. Athlete’s Foot: Athlete’s Foot must be diagnosed and treated to prevent both fungal infection and re-infection

  6. Fungus Toenail Colonization (late and secondary): Fungal colonization must be diagnosed and treated aggressively when present/suspected


The Toenail Clinic™ answers the important question so many frustrated ugly toenail sufferers continue to ask:

Where can I get indulgent, secure, clean and professional care for my ugly, painful, ingrown, pinched and fungal toenails?

Answer: The Toenail Clinic™


Until The Toenail Clinic™, the gold standard for treating onychodystrophy has been “kill the fungus”. Unfortunately, this does not address the other five primary causes of onychodystrophy and at least 40% of the time, after laboratory studied, there is no fungus infection .


Key Takeaway: All Bees Are Insects but Not All Insects Are Bees. All Fungal Toenails Are Dystrophic but Not All Dystrophic Toenails Are Fungal


That is the reason why, the multimodal custom approach practiced at The Toenail Clinic™ is guaranteed to work where others have failed.


At The Toenail Clinic™, our mission is to cater to the desires and concerns of men and women looking to maintain healthy, beautiful toenails while continuing to work out and wear fashionable shoes and sandals.

We guarantee to improve the toenail health and appearance of your nails during your first visit utilizing The Foot Centering Dystrophic Toenail Program.

The latest laser technology, evidence based treatments, professional products and customized diagnosis & care are applied during your visits in our welcoming state of the art facility on a case to case , custom basis.

Our toenail-therapists are NYS Licensed Nail Techs that hold an additional certification as a Toenail Therapist after 50-100 hours of training and monitoring by Dr Dennis Shavelson, a world authority on Onychodystrophy.

A single call to LifeStyle Podiatry @ 212 343 3668 will change your cosmetic and functional life.


  1. Bakotic B, Shavelson D: The Pathogenesis of Nail Unit “Dystrophy”; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322301937_The_Pathogenesis_of_Nail_Unit_Dystrophy

  2. Gannoum M, Isham N: Fungal nail infections: A Never Ending Story :http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1004105

Fungal Toenails before and after 6_edite
Pincer Toenails and Foot Type.jpg
fungus before and after 9.png