Treating Toenail Fungus Medically
How a toenail fungal infection is treated may depend on its severity.
In white superficial onychomycosis, for example, the white patches of fungus that form on the nails can sometimes simply be filed off and an over-the-counter antifungal topical medication can be applied to the nail to kill the fungus.
For infections affecting deeper layers of the nail, over-the-counter topical medications often don’t penetrate the nail deeply enough to kill all of the fungus and prevent the infection from recurring. Repeated applications of the medication or a prescription-strength drug may be necessary.
The symptoms of more severe infections include thickened, discolored toenails that may eventually become painful. In these situations, you should see a podiatrist who can devise a treatment plan that may include these actions:
Debridement The thickened portions of the nail can be debrided, or removed, to reduce pain and allow a topical treatment to penetrate more effectively.
Topical Medication Medications that are applied like nail polish or hand cream are sometimes used to treat nail infections. However, topical medication often fails because it doesn’t move deeply enough into the nail to reach the fungus or users forget to apply it daily for almost a year, as is required.
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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
Who Suffers From Toenail Fungus
- Do you sweat a lot?
- Do you use a public pool or take communal showers at the gym?
- Do you regularly go to a nail salon to get a manicure or pedicure?
- Do you suffer from diabetes, malnutrition, a weak immune system, or have you smoked for a long time?
Unfortunately, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you are more likely to contract toenail fungus.
Toenail Fungus Home Care
Sometimes itâs possible to treat your toenail fungus at home. You can try:
- Over the counter antifungal creams or ointments. File or cut off any white markings on your nails. Soak your nails in water and dry off before you put on the medicated cream.
- Special nail care. If you keep your nails trimmed, it can reduce the pressure and pain you feel. You can also thin your nail bed by filing it down. This can help antifungal creams get to the problem easier.
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Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms
Often the infection is just in one nail but several may be affected. It is usually painless. The nail may look thickened and discoloured . Commonly, this is all that occurs and it often causes no other symptoms. The main reason people see their doctor is because the appearance is unsightly.
Sometimes the infection becomes worse. White or yellow patches may appear where the nail has come away from the skin under the nail . Sometimes the whole nail comes away. The nail may become soft and crumble. Bits of nail may fall off. The skin next to the nail may be inflamed or scaly. If left untreated, the infection may eventually destroy the nail and the nail bed, and may become painful. Walking may become uncomfortable if a toenail is affected.
This photo shows the typical appearance of fungal infection of the toenails:
This photo shows fingernail fungal infection, which is less common than toenail fungal infection:
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Nail During Treatment For Fungal Nail Infection
The fungi that are killed with treatment remain in the nail until the nail grows out. Fresh, healthy nail growing from the base of the nail is a sign that treatment is working. After you finish a course of treatment, it will take several months for the old infected part of the nail to grow out and be clipped off. The non-infected fresh new nail continues growing forward. When it reaches the end of the finger or toe, the nail will often look normal again.
Fingernails grow faster than toenails, so it may appear they are quicker to get back to normal. It may take up to a year after starting treatment before toenails look completely normal again and six months for fingernails to look completely normal.
Consult a doctor if there does not seem to be any healthy new nail beginning to grow after a few weeks of treatment. However, the infection can still respond to treatment even after you finish a course of medication. This is because the antifungal medication stays in the nail for about nine months after you stop taking medication.
Vitamins & Minerals To Kick Nail Fungus Out
Here are just a few vitamins to take that may provide assistance in your quest to eliminate your toenail fungus infection:
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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.
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.
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Best Ointment: Fungi Nail Anti
Infused with five oils for skin healing
Easy-to-use brush applicator
Only for mild infections
Doesn’t heal the nail plate
Fungi Nail Antifungal Ointment uses an innovative design to address multiple forms of fungal infections one can find on their feet. Its wide-tip applicator applies the appointment on larger areas of the feet, such as the soles and in-between toes. Then the smaller applicator works to get around the nail cuticles and underneath the nail.
Once applied, the maximum-strength ointment kills the fungus with the active ingredients of zinc undecylenate and undecylenic acid to help treat toenail fungus. The ointment also soothes itching and burning that can come with an infection, all while healing the skin. For best results, apply twice a day to clean, dry feet.
The ointment also soothes itching and burning that can come with an infection, all while healing the skin. For best results, apply twice a day to clean, dry feet.
Active Ingredients: Zinc undecylenate 20% and Undecylenic acid 5% | Dose: Tube and brush applicator delivers the appropriate amount. Apply thin layer on affected area twice daily or as directed by a doctor. | Uses: Treats and prevents fungal infections fights athletes foot and ringworm
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.
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Combination Of Vinegar And Hydrogen Peroxide For Nail Fungus
Apart from using hydrogen peroxide for nail fungus treatment, you can also use essential oils one of which is the coconut oil. Coconut oil is a carrier oil with myriads of benefits. It has abundant antioxidant and antifungal properties. Coconut oil relieves the pain associated with nail fungus, destroys the fungus, and a new healthy nail will replace the infected one. This oil can be used both topically and internally without any side effects. When using coconut oil for treating nail fungus, especially internal usage, it is imperative to get one that is organic, unrefined, and cold-pressed, as well as 100% pure.
Treating nail fungus with coconut oil
When To Seek Help
Most fungal nail infections are not serious and only need selfcare measures . See your pharmacist or doctor for treatment if:
- The nail/s are painful or they bother you.
- you are at risk of complications from the infection, eg, if you have diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or connective tissue disorders.
Many nail conditions can look like a fungal infection such as an old injury, a bacterial infection or psoriasis. Your doctor may take a small sample of your nail to confirm if it really is a fungal infection.
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Symptoms Of Fungal Nails
The good news is that if you catch it early enough, it can be fairly easy to eradicate toenail fungus and save your nails from further damage.
So how do you catch it in the early stages?
Well, inspecting your nails every day is the first step. Especially because toenail fungus can be present a very long time without causing noticeable symptoms.
Here are things you should look for when you examine your nails:
- Darkening or discoloration of the affected nail
- White or discolored spots that arent from an injury
- Thickening or distortion of the nail
- Unusual white or yellow streaks in your nail
- Crumbling along the edges or tips of the nail, particularly where its discolored
- Redness and swelling
- Foul odor emitting from the nail
- Pain when walking or wearing shoes
- The nail starts to separate from the nail bed
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your toenails, dont wait for them to go away on their own the infection will most likely continue to grow and spread .
Instead, get them diagnosed right away so the fungus can be eliminated quickly and before it causes visible damage to your nail.
There Is A Wide Range Of Options With Varying Success Rates
Other than keeping your toenails trimmed and perhaps painted, you may not pay much attention to them unless a problem develops. Healthy toenails are pink, shiny and smooth, but a fungal infection can cause them to become discolored, thick, brittle and even painful.
Toenail fungal infection, known as onychomycosis, is a common but challenging condition toenail fungus treatments include a wide range of options with varying success rates.
Causes of toenail fungus
Fungal nail infections are usually caused by fungi called dermatophytes that infect the skin beneath the nail yeast is another common culprit. Toenails are especially vulnerable to infection when your bare feet contact damp surfaces such as showers, swimming pools and locker rooms. If you have athletes foot, the infection can spread to the nails.
Wearing closed shoes such as athletic shoes for extended periods also can contribute to infection if your shoes and/or socks are damp from perspiration or heat. Moreover, if your shoes fit snugly enough to put pressure on your toes, they can damage the nail bed, making it more susceptible to infection.
People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or circulatory problems, also may be more prone to toenail infections.
Symptoms of toenail fungus
Toenail fungus symptoms can develop slowly over time and may go unnoticed at first. Symptoms can include:
Toenail fungus treatments
When to see a doctor for toenail fungus
Preventing toenail fungus
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Canespro Fungal Nail Treatment
Canespro® Fungal Nail Treatment Set from the makers of Canesten is the shortest treatment* towards healthy nails.
Canespro® urea ointment is clinically proven to soften the infected part of the nail only. Then, the infected part of the nail can be gradually removed, showing visible results in just 2-3 weeks*. The set also includes special plasters to cover and protect the nail while youre using the urea ointment. Canespro enables you to get to the main root of the infection as fungal nail infections can occur under the nail plate.
*Refers to OTC fungal nail products. After treating with Canespro, a follow-up treatment with an anti-fungal nail cream is recommended. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Can A Nail Fungal Infection Be Prevented Or Avoided
Avoid situations that expose you to a fungus. This includes walking barefoot in locker rooms and having wet hands and feet often. This might be a problem for people who work in restaurants or house cleaning. People in a family can get nail fungal infections at the same time. This happens when their immune systems arent able to fight off the infection. Or it could be the infection is spread when using the same towels. It is important to routinely clean your shower, tub, and bathroom to lower risk of fungal infection.
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Preventing Toenail Fungus From Spreading
While you can’t avoid contact with the microscopic organisms that cause toenail fungus its present anywhere that is warm, dark, or moist keeping your feet clean and dry and clipping your nails properly can help prevent an infection.
For fungus to grow, there needs to be some type of trauma to the nail where the nail-skin junction, or natural barrier, is disrupted, says Sheth. For example, from a pedicure, ill-fitting shoes, or the repetitive trauma of running or hiking that causes the nail to lift or get pressed on from shoes or boots.
Still, some people are more vulnerable than others, she adds. Some people have it only on one toe or one foot, and some have lived with a partner who has it but they never get it,” Sheth says. “And for some you see it in their entire family. It’s not as straightforward as it seems, and it’s an annoying problem.
If you do get a toenail fungus infection, these measures can help stop it from spreading:
Getting rid of established toenail fungus can be difficult. Successfully eliminating it depends on careful adherence to a treatment plan.
“What happens over time is that the fungus breeds in the nail tissue and goes from being just a little bit on the nail, to a really discolored and thickened nail, to a nail that is totally embedded with fungus,” explains Marlene Reid, a doctor of podiatric medicine in Naperville, Illinois, and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association.