Mayo Clinic Q And A: Treatment For Toenail Fungus Isnt Always Necessary
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am in my late 50s, and a few of my toenails have turned a yellowish color and seem to have thickened. Is this something I should be concerned about? Is there anything I can do to fix this?
ANSWER: What youre likely experiencing is a fungal nail infection. Fungal nail infections are common, especially among older adults. As nail growth slows with age, its easier for fungus to establish in the nail bed. Treatments are available, although they may take some vigilance and are not always necessary.
Toenail fungus usually is caused by a microscopic organism called dermatophyte fungus. It often begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your toenail. But as the infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. These fungal infections are more likely to happen in your toenails than in your fingernails because toenails often are confined in a dark, warm, moist environment, where fungi can thrive. Toes also have less blood flow than fingers, making it harder for your bodys immune system to detect and stop the infection. But it is possible for fingernails to be affected.
The older you are, the more likely you are to get toenailfungus. Thats because as you age, your immune system changes. Inaddition, your nails become more brittle and drier over time, creating morecracks where fungus can live.
Maphie Nail Repair Pen
The Maphi Nail Repair Pen provides an affordable, surprisingly effective treatment for nail fungus. There is no muss and fuss, and if you use it as directed, you should start to see improvement in two or three weeks.
What we like: O-hydroxybenzoic acid is one of the most powerful non-prescription antifungals you can get. When combined with deacetylated chitin, it weakens the cellular structure of the fungal cells then eliminates them.
Flaws: Applying it three times a day means you may run out before the treatment period ends.
Perfect Nail Solution Toenail Fungus Treatment
Perfect Nail Solution is a 2-step treatment aimed at addressing the health of the nail and surrounding tissue. Step 1 is soaking your feet, and step 2 is applying the topical solution directly to the affected nail or nails.
What we like: Perfect Nail Solution is an all-natural product that uses tea tree oil, oregano, lemon, jojoba, vitamin E oil, and more to restore damaged nail tissue and create an inhospitable environment for the invasive fungi.
Flaws: The odor is not exactly pleasant.
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How To Prevent A Nail Infection In The First Place
Trim your nails carefullyingrown nails can arise from cutting nails too short at the edges, since as they grow out they can catch skin. Cut nails straight across and get rid of any pointy corners. And never share clippers, as this can spread infection from person to person even consider bringing your own tools to a professional mani or pedi.
Its also important to wash your feet with soapy water, being sure to get in between your toes, to prevent fungus or bacteria from building up and be sure to dry them thoroughly, since fungus loves a moist environment. Wear breathable socks and use antifungal spray or powder if going sock-less.
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Sets With Creams And A Nail Scraper
Treatment sets that contain two creams and a nail scraper can also be used for the topical treatment of nail fungus:
- One cream has urea in it, which softens the nail so it can be removed.
- The other cream contains bifonazole, which has an antifungal effect.
For this treatment, the affected toe or finger first has to be soaked in warm water for ten minutes and then dried. After that, the urea-based cream is applied to the nail, and the nail is covered with an adhesive bandage. After 24 hours, the bandage is removed and the toe or finger is held in warm water again. The softened layer of the nail is then scraped off using a spatula, the cream is applied again and the nail is covered with a new bandage. This treatment is carried out over 14 days. Once the infected part of the nail has been scraped away completely, the skin beneath is treated for another four weeks with a bifonazole cream.
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Funginix Finger And Toe Treatment
Funginix Healthy Nail Formula uses the known antifungal undecylenic acid to address nail fungi and send them on their way. There is also tea tree oil along with lavender oil to promote healing and restore nail integrity.
What we like: The one-two antifungal combination of undecylenic acid and tea tree oil does an effective job reclaiming your nails. At the same time, the other ingredients make sure that the new nail tissue is durable and attractive.
Flaws: Those with stubborn infections will need to be patient.
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Nail Fungus
To find out if a patient has nail fungus, a dermatologist examines your nails and nearby skin. Its important to check the skin because the fungus can spread. You may already have a skin infection caused by fungus like athletes foot.
To get rid of the infection, you will need to treat all infected areas.
Before giving you the diagnosis, your dermatologist may also take some samples. Collecting a bit of debris from beneath a nail, trimming off part your nail, or scraping off a bit of skin can be very helpful. In a lab, these samples can be examined under a microscope to find out whats causing the problem.
Are you hiding an infected nail with nail polish?
Be sure to ask your dermatologist if you can wear nail polish while treating nail fungus.
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Proper Use Of Undecylenic Acid
Most undecylenic acid products do not require a prescription. However, always consult your doctor when purchasing a new product.
Follow dosage regulations provided by your physician or listed on the product. Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
Sanitize Wash your hands before handling any topical product. Also wash the target area in soap and water. Ensure that both hands as well as the target area are clean and dry before application.
Apply If the product is a cream or liquid ointment, apply a sufficient amount to cover the affected area. Also cover a small part of the surrounding skin to ensure that spores do not grow into new fungal colonies. If the product is a powder, sprinkle it on the affected area, and allow it to sit. Anti-fungal powders may also be sprinkled into shoes and socks.
Maintenance Avoid covering the affected region in tight bandages or other non-breathable wrapping. Keep the area aerated. Light gauze may be used if necessary or recommended by a doctor. Change wrapping regularly.
Storage Store undecylenic acid topicals away from moisture, heat, and light. Some products may be flammable. Others may lose efficacy when not properly stored. Keep undecylenic acid topicals out of reach from children.
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Faq: Why Don’t Otc Medications Cure My Toenail Fungus
“Do Not Use on Scalp or Nails”
“Not Effective on Nails”
Many patients coming in for treatment of fungal nails having already tried one or more over the counter nail medications or creams prescribed by a well meaning primary care physician. These patients are frustrated because the medications didn’t make a bit of difference. In fact, using these medications as a primary or sole treatment is almost always doomed to failure. There are several reasons for this.
First, the hard part about treating fungus in the nails isn’t the fungus, it is the nail itself. Particularly with the thicker nails, topical medication cannot penetrate the nail plate adequately. The same fungus in the skin, known as athlete’s foot, is more easily treated because the skin absorbs medication readily. OTC medications for nails have decent antifungal medicines but use a harsh chemical in an attempt to penetrate the nail plate . They can irritate the skin surrounding the nail if you get it one the skin.
All that being said, there is a place for topical medications in treating nail fungus. In our office we use Clarus topical nail solution as an adjunct, part of a comprehensive plan for treating fungal nails. It contains no harsh chemicals and is used to a) treat the nail surface and b) protects the nails as they grow while using the more effective treatments of oral medication and/or laser treatment. Keep in mind that it can take many months to see improvement when treating fungal nails by any method.
What Is The Best Medication For Toenail Fungus
Below is a list of the most recommended prescription treatment for toenail fungus.
|Best medications for toenail fungus
|200 mg once daily for 12 consecutive weeks
|Nausea, vomiting, rash, headache
Dosage is determined by your doctor based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and age. Other possible side effects exist. This is not a complete list. A very rare side effect can be trouble breathing if this occurs, seek immediate emergency medical attention.
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How To Use Fungi Nail
Now that we have established the product comes from a reputable company and doesnt contain wild or crazy ingredients, it is important to understand how to properly use the product for optimum effect.
Fungi nail could not be easier to use, you simply must:
- Thoroughly clean the area with soap and water. You can use a soft nail brush if you like but it is not absolutely required.
- Trim your toe nails by cutting straight across and then rounding them slightly at the tips.
- Apply Fungi Nail to the area under the nail and at your cuticles.
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Thoughts On Over The Counter Nail Fungus Treatments Are There Any That Might Work
My doctor told me that Vicks Vapor Rub is effective in treating toenailfungus. I have been using it for approximately 3 weeks, but I cannot sayfor sure that it is having any effect. What have others said about itsuse for toenail fungus?
Your doctor is a nut.
I agree, your doctor is a real quack!
Your doctor is indeed a quack.My doctor told me the same thing and beleive mebeleive me it doesnt work AT ALL.Im right back where I started.It really seems as if theres no hope.
How long did you all try the Vicks?
Acutally, the Mayo Clinic website recommends Vicks vapor rub as a home remedy.
I WORK IN A PHARMACY IN A HOSPITAL AND WE EITHER USE LAMISIL OR VICKS VAPOR RUB.
I have beentold that Listerine is very effective in treating the fungus.
For Vicks to work you must use it everyday, it can take up to six months.Use a toothbrush to apply, making sure that you get into all the little crevices.
The doctor is right. It is the camphor in Vicks or other products that kills thefungus. But it takes work and time. Apply the Vicks to a nail that has beenroughed up with a coarse emory board. Apply the Vicks with a q-tip and then puta band-aid over it otherwise it is soon rubbed off. Depending on the severitythis will take several months of constant daily application of replacing theband-aid daily. Ive done it and it worked perfectly on a nail that had beeninfected for 20+ years.
Greg, how long did you have to treat?
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Cure Toenail Pain From Fungus Infection
Know The Symptoms And Reasons You Shouldnt Wait to Seek Effective Treatment
A painful, thick, yellow, green, brown or black toenail means you could have a toenail fungus infection. If you have a toenail fungal infection it wont go away on its own. You cant get rid of it with home remedies or over the counter topical treatments. Learn why, and how to cure it by reading more.
Toenail fungus is common and it can develop when dry, brittle nails develop cracks that allow fungus to enter the nail unit. A toenail fungus infection most often occurs when excessive moisture gets under your toenail and is trapped by your socks and shoes, allowing fungus to grow and thrive. Nail fungus can also be caused by yeast and mold.
Left untreated toenail fungus can become a foot fungus, spreading from your toenail, to the skin in between your toes, your arch and the heel of your foot.
Scratching it or picking at it can also spread it to your fingers, and then to other parts of your body. You can also spread it to other people if you are sharing a shower or tub.
Kerasal Fungal Nail Renewal Treatment
Rather than going directly after the fungus itself, Kerasal Fungal Nail Renewal Treatment slowly removes layers of damaged, infected nail. In a sense, it acts as an exfoliant for your nails.
What we like: The Kerasal approach is novel but has amassed an impressive record of liberating nails from fungal onslaughts. It leverages the keratolytic properties of urea to remove damaged tissue and then promotes the growth of new, healthy layers of the toenail.
Flaws: You dont get very much in a tube.
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What Is The Treatment For Fungal Nails
Oral antifungal therapy has a high cure rate, depending on the medication. It can take nine to 12 months to see if it has worked or not, because that is how long it takes for the nail to grow out. Even when therapy works, the fungus may come back. Currently, an oral antifungal therapy is considered the best treatment for toenail fungus because of higher cure rates and shorter treatment duration compared to topical therapy.
Prescription oral medications that are effective against nail fungus include the following:
There are several innovative treatments that are still being tested:
- Laser therapy or uses application of light-activated agents onto the nail followed by shining light of a proper wavelength on the nail.
- Use of electrical current to help absorption of topical antifungal medications into the nail: This is also called iontophoresis.
- Use of a special nail lacquer that changes the micro-climate of the nail to make it inhospitable for the fungus to grow: If this works, it may be an inexpensive way to treat this problem in the future.
One way to definitively get rid of toenail fungus is by surgery. Surgical treatment of onychomycosis involves nail removal. However, this often only provides temporary relief, and recurrence is common unless additional antifungal medication is simultaneously used. However, surgical removal may be warranted when the affected nail is associated with other factors such as trauma and or infection.
How Fungi Infect The Nail
Onchomycosis, or toenail fungal infection, is an invasion by a microscopic organism that thrives in warm, damp environments. Fungal spores are in the air, and they will grow if they land on a receptive surface like your toenail. They feed off the nail tissues, burrowing into the skin under the nail. Over time the nail thickens and may lift off the nail bed as fungal debris accumulates. Once your nail is raised off the nail bed, it won’t reattach, and a new nail won’t grow from that part of the nail bed. However, your nail will continue to grow from the root at the base.
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How Do I Know My Nail Is Infected
Nails can become infected with other infections, so my advice would be to first confirm if you really do have a nail fungus visit your doctor who will probably take a scraping of the nail, which may be sent away for identification.
The infected nail might look yellowish-brown. Fungal-infected nails might become thicker and crumble at the tip, and may cause pain when wearing shoes.
What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Toenail Fungus
The most effective toenail fungus treatment for you will largely depend on your symptoms and situation. Your provider will consider several factors before recommending a treatment plan thats customized to you.
Overall, oral antifungal medications may offer the most treatment potential. Pairing oral drugs with topical antifungal medication may make treatment more effective.
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