About Fungal Nail Infection
Many people develop a fungal nail infection at some point in their life. It’s not usually serious, but can be unpleasant and difficult to treat.
The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.
Toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails.
The medical name for a fungal nail infection is onychomycosis.
When Should I Call The Doctor
In rare cases, toenail fungus can cause an infection called cellulitis. Without prompt treatment, cellulitis may pose a serious danger to your health.
You should seek treatment guidance from a trusted healthcare provider if you have:
- Circulation problems.
- Redness, pain or pus near the toenail.
- Weakened immune system.
Creams & Topical Treatments For Toenail Fungus
Over-the-counter fungal creams like clotrimazole dont work well for treating toenail fungus. Prescription nail polishes are available, but they take longer to work and arent effective for severe cases. Thats because they dont penetrate the nail very well. That said, they are still a good option for people with mild cases of toenail fungus, or for those who cant take the oral antifungals. Examples include:
Side effects are usually minor and include redness or burning at the application site.
You might hear or read about medicated chest rub as a treatment for toenail fungus, but its mostly hype. Its a tempting option because its so safe, easy to use, and cheap. But its not likely to help.
Recommended Reading: Why Do I Have Toe Fungus
What The Experts Say
The most common presentation of toenail fungus is a white/yellow discoloration of the nail that is thick and filled with yellow/white keratin debris. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies.” Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin treatment center in New York City.
Are There Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus
The Internet is filled with anecdotal information on how to cure toenail fungus using home remedies. Vinegar is a commonly recommended home remedy. Some people apply various oils such as tea tree oil, coconut oil, essential oils, and oil of cedar leaf to their nails as well. The effectiveness of these home remedies is highly doubtful. Application of household bleach and hydrogen peroxide is also not recommended due to lack of evidence that these treatments work. These agents can also cause unwanted skin irritation. Thickened nails that have been affected by fungus can be difficult to trim. Using topical urea cream will soften the nail and make it easier to trim. These creams do not require a prescription.
Recommended Reading: Can You Use Bleach To Kill Toenail Fungus
Distal And Lateral Subungual Onychomycosis:
Distal and lateral subungual onychomycosis are seen in majority of cases and is almost always due to dermatophyte infection. It affects the hyponychium, often at the lateral edges initially, and spreads proximally along the nail bed resulting in subungual hyperkeratosis and onycholysis although the nail plate is not initially affected. Distal and lateral subungual onychomycosis may be confined to one side of the nail or spread sideways to involve the whole of the nail bed, and progresses relentlessly until it reaches the posterior nail fold. Eventually the nail plate becomes friable and may break up, often due to trauma, although nail destruction may be related to invasion of the plate by dermatophytes that have keratolytic properties. Examination of the surrounding skin will nearly always reveal evidence of tinea pedis. Toenail infection is an almost inevitable precursor of fingernail dermatophytosis, which has a similar clinical appearance although nail thickening is not as common.
How To Cure Nail Fungus
This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support , Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support , Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee in 2006. This article has been viewed 326,359 times.
Onychomycosis, or nail fungus, is a common infection that affects toenails and, less frequently, fingernails. It is caused by a group of fungus called dermatophytes, which thrives in warm, moist environments, like your shoes. If you suspect you have a nail infection, try to treat it quickly and routinely, as the fungus will continue to come back if allowed to take hold.
Read Also: Does Laser Toenail Fungus Removal Hurt
Tips For Prevention Of Fungal Nails
Nail fungus causes only 50% of abnormal-appearing nails. It can be hard to tell the difference between the different causes of discolored nails . Onychomycosis is often not treated. Reasons to receive treatment include
No one knows where a specific person catches the fungus, as it is everywhere. However, since the fungus does thrive in warm moist areas , there are certain areas one should avoid or use with caution. Shower floors, locker rooms, and swimming pools are suspected of being sources of the fungus, although there are no studies proving this fact. Nail polish and acrylic nails also make the nail less breathable and make the nail more susceptible to fungal infection. Fungi are everywhere in the air, the dust, and the soil. Hygienic measures such as spraying socks and footgear sound sensible, and perhaps these measures can even help a little bit. However, avoiding tight, nonbreathing shoes or steering clear of athletic facility floors may very well be the best prevention available. Daily washing of the feet and drying between the toes can help to prevent nail fungus. The fungi carried on the coats of pets, like cats and dogs, dont often cause nail fungus. Wearing white socks does not help.
Dont Miss: What Essential Oil Is Good For Foot Fungus
Whos At Risk For Fungal Infections
There are many different causes of fungal nail infections. Each cause has a treatment of its own. Although many of the causes of a fungal nail infection are preventable, some risk factors increase the likelihood of developing one. Youre more likely to develop a fungal nail infection if you:
- wear closed-toe shoes, such as tennis shoes or boots
Nail infections occur more often in men than in women, and the infections are found in adults more often than in children. If you have family members who often get these types of fungal infections, youre more likely to get them as well.
Older adults have a high risk for getting fungal nail infections because they have poorer circulation. The nails also grow more slowly and thicken as we age.
A fungal infection of the nail may affect part of the nail, the entire nail, or several nails.
Common signs of a fungal nail infection include:
- a distorted nail that may lift off from the nail bed
- an odor coming from the infected nail
- a brittle or thickened nail
You May Like: Is Listerine Good For Toe Fungus
Treatment Options For Nail Fungus
Most of my conversation is usually discussing medical therapy, so things that are available by prescription only. And those come in two main forms, which are topical antifungal medications, and then oral antifungal medications. There are other surgical or procedural options, so you can remove nails as well. And then there’s starting to be more interest in technologies like lasers for nail fungus.
Know It May Have To Be Permanent
At this point, if he or she has not discussed this with you earlier, the doctor may recommend that you have the nail permanently prevented from growing back. This is only done in severe cases of fungus or other disorders where the problem would simply keep occurring if the nail grew back.
To do this, the doctor must destroy the nail matrix, which is the part of the toe that produces keratin, the element that toenails are made of.
The matrix can be dissolved chemically, which is the most common. This is called chemical cauterization, and involves the application of a chemical called phenol. Occasionally, some patients report their nails growing back, but generally this method is effective.
If this does not work, your doctor will perform a surgical matrixectomy. A flap of skin is surgically created at the base of the nail, where the matrix is located. After retracting the flap, the matrix is surgically removed.
Read Also: Can You Get Rid Of Nail Fungus
Why Does It Develop
A fungal nail infection occurs from the overgrowth of fungi in, under, or on the nail. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, so this type of environment can cause them to naturally overpopulate. The same fungi that cause jock itch, athletes foot, and ringworm can cause nail infections.
Fungi that are already present in or on your body can cause nail infections. If you have come in contact with someone else who has a fungal infection, you may have contracted it as well. Fungal infections affect toenails more commonly than fingernails, likely because your toes are usually confined to shoes, where theyre in a warm, moist environment.
If you get a manicure or pedicure at a nail salon, be sure to ask how the staff disinfects their tools and how often they do it. Tools, such as emery boards and nail clippers, can spread fungal infections from person to person if theyre not sanitized.
All About Nail Fungus
This site is dedicated to providing you with the best information regarding nail fungus its symptoms, causal factors, characteristics, available treatments and preventative measures you can take. Medically, it is known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium, and is a very common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot underneath your fingernail or toenail. Nail fungus can also cause your nail to discolor, split, crack, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can cause a lot of discomfort as well as causing embarrassment due to its unsightly appearance. We aim to provide the most comprehensive resource available about nail fungus and how to effectively treat it quickly and effectively, even ways to prevent future outbreaks.
We provide you with impartial, up-to-the-minute information regarding this very common infection, which affects many individuals. Symptoms vary between individuals, as does the length, frequency and duration of the infection. Nail Fungus spreads quickly, so understanding its causes and what preventative measures you can take will help eradicate this uncomfortable condition, once and for all.
Read Also: What To Drink For Nail Fungus
Why Should You Use Bleach For Toenail Fungus
The foremost reason is quite recognized for the usage of bleach is the convenience. Bleach is the best home remedy for toenail fungus and readily available and that too at a lower cost. A good number of people have confirmed that their treatment has been successful with bleach.
If the infection is lesser, the soaks may work. However, if the case is severe, applying the bleach directly is recommended. It can kill the fungal spores and also lighten up the yellow toenails. Nevertheless, talk to your doctors to make an informed decision.
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.
You May Like: What Causes Foot Fungus Between Toes
Other Oral Medications That Are Available To Treat Toenail Fungus
Oral fluconazole for toenail fungus treatment
Oral fluconazole is another pill sometimes used to treat toenail fungus. But its not a great alternative to terbinafine and itraconazole. Its not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for this use, and it doesnt work as well in head-to-head comparisons. Not only that, it needs to be taken once a week for at least 3 to 6 months.
Noxafil for toenail fungus treatment
A new medication used in the treatment of toenail fungus is posaconazole , a liquid taken by mouth. Noxafil appears to be an effective option, but the cost makes it difficult for anyone to afford.
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.
You May Like: What Can I Do To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus
The Danger Of Waiting To Treat The Fungus
The greatest danger of not treating the foot or toenail fungus is that it can spread to other parts of the body, such as the hands and groin.
If for some reason you cant treat your toenails or your feet right away, at least use an antifungal topical cream on the surrounding skin, Dr. Ng says. That will help keep it from spreading and keep the skin intact.
Home Treatments For Toenail Fungus Dont Always Work
How long does it take to know if your home treatment remedy option has worked? It depends on the remedy and the severity of the fungal problem. While it usually takes 2 to 3 months for a toenail fungus infection to go away, it can take up to a year to completely heal. Most people will try at least 1 of the above home antifungal treatments before choosing to seek foot care from a professional.
Recommended Reading: What Doctor To Go To For Nail Fungus
Staying One Step Ahead Of Toenail Fungus
An established fungal infection is hard to eradicate, but you can stop its spread and improve your toenail’s appearance.
Toenail fungus isn’t a pressing health problem. Yet a fungal infection can ruin the appearance of your nails and cause pain as it lifts the nail away from the nail bed. And fungal infections are notoriously difficult to get rid of. “You may want to consider fungal toenail a condition to be managed rather than cured,” says Dr. James P. Ioli, chief of the podiatry service at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
See A Dermatologist To Pinpoint The Problem
Foot fungus wont just go away on its own, Dr. Ng says. If you think you have foot or toenail fungus, see your dermatologist, she says. There are several tests that your dermatologist can perform to identify exactly whats going on.
Its important to be aware that there are other diseases which can cause nail changes, she says. For example, we do see things like squamous cell skin cancers in the nail beds and even melanomas, which have a brownish or blackish discoloration.
Don’t Miss: How To Use Vicks For Toenail Fungus
When To See A Bethesda Md Or Springfield Va Podiatrist
If you try several of these remedies and see no results, its time to see a podiatrist. Toenail fungus is notoriously stubborn, so dont be too surprised if home remedies dont quite work. It can also take quite a long time for these home remedies to work because you have to continue doing them consistently until the new nail has fully grown out.
If youve tried the homeopathic route and arent satisfied with the results, you can always come see Bethesda, MD & Springfield, VA Podiatrist, Dr. Paul Ross! If you have moderate to severe foot fungus, it is recommended that you see a doctor anyway because there can be complications if the infection is left untreated. Call us at . We offer same day appointments if you dont want to wait.
Our Bethesda, Maryland and Springfield, Virginia Podiatry offices offer the most effective and state-of-the-art, quality podiatry care services with a smile to patients in our local community, including: Woodbridge VA, Fairfax VA, Annandale VA, Arlington VA, Alexandria VA, Burke VA, Gaithersburg MD, Potomac MD, Silver Spring MD, Rockville MD and Chevy Chase MD.
Return to a pain-free life and get back to the things you love!
What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Toenail Fungus
If you have toenail fungus, you may find it helpful to ask your provider:
- What type of infection do I have?
- Do you recommend I treat it? Why or why not?
- How long will I need treatment?
- What steps can I take to stop it from coming back?
- Should I be aware of any potentially serious complications or treatment side effects?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Toenail fungus is an incredibly common infection that can be difficult to treat. The condition usually isnt painful, but it may make you feel self-conscious about how your foot looks. If it bothers you, talk to your provider about your treatment options. A trained specialist can provide guidance on whats most likely to address your concerns while protecting your overall health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.
Recommended Reading: What Is A Home Remedy For Toenail Fungus
What Are The Subtypes Of Fungal Nail Infections
Fungal nail infection is divided into clinical subtypes based on the cause and progress of the infection.
- Distal lateral subungual onychomycosis is the most common form of fungal nail infection. In DLSO, the fungus generally spreads from the skin and invades the underside of the nail where the nail meets the nail bed. Inflammation in these areas of the nail causes the symptoms of DLSO.
- White superficial onychomycosis is a rare infection caused by the fungi directly invading the surface of the nail plate and secondarily infecting the nail bed.
- In proximal subungual onychomycosis , the least common subtype, the fungi invade the cuticle and the nail fold and then penetrate the nail plate .
- Like DLSO, in endonyx onychomycosis , the fungi reach the nail via the skin. Instead of infecting the nail bed, however, the fungi immediately invade the nail plate.
- Fungal nail infection related to yeast infection is a little different from fungal nail infection related to other fungal infections. Candidal fungal nail infection has several characteristics:
- Onycholysis describes the nail separating from the nail bed.
- Chronic mucocutaneous disease involves the nail plate and eventually the nail fold .