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.
How Can I Prevent Toenail Fungus
Theres no way to guarantee that you wont get toenail fungus. But you can take several steps to help prevent it:
- Avoid going barefoot in communal areas such as hotel rooms / showers, public showers, locker rooms and swimming pools. Most people pick up fungus in these situations. It helps to wear flip flops in these public areas.
- If you have a family member with foot fungus or nail fungus, try to use different shower or wear flip flops in the shower to avoid coming in contact with it.
- Trauma due to accidental or aggressive clipping of the nails can turn into portals of entry for the fungus.
- Clean your nail trimmer before using it.
- Do not tear or rip your toenails on purpose.
- If you have diabetes, follow all foot care recommendations from your healthcare provider.
- Keep your feet dry. Make sure to fully dry your feet after a shower.
- Soak toenails in warm water before cutting them. Or you can cut your nails after a shower or bath.
- Trim toenails straight across .
- Wear shoes that fit correctly. They should not be too loose or tight around the toes.
How To Apply Toenail Fungus Treatment
Toenail fungus can be very hard to deal with, so when it comes to treating a fungal infection it is best to go with a treatment that is highly effective. No treatment will work overnight, it may take months before seeing any results, so its best to have patience and continue using the product as directed.
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Cure Toenail Pain From Fungus Infection
Know The Symptoms And Reasons You Shouldn’t 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 won’t go away on its own. You can’t 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.
Home Remedies To Avoid
Most home remedies for toenail fungus are unlikely to cause unwanted side effects.
Still, when considering home remedies to treat a toenail infection, its important to consider a few things:
- Lack of evidence: Many home remedies dont have as much scientific evidence to support their effectiveness as other more evidence-based treatment options, like prescription antifungal medications.
- Lower risk of side effects: On the plus side, even if they dont work, most home remedies are less likely to cause adverse side effects when compared with antifungal medications.
- Longer treatment time: In the case that home remedies do help to treat your infection, its likely to take a long time .
If youre immunocompromised or living with other chronic conditions, its a good idea to speak to your medical provider before trying out any at-home toenail fungus remedies.
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Treating Toenail Fungus Medically
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Toenail Fungus Prescription Medications
Sometimes prescription medications are needed to treat a toenail infection that just wont go away with natural remedies or over-the-counter medication in a few months. In this case, prescription-strength antifungal medication can eradicate stubborn onychomycosis.
Topical medications often are effective in treating mild to moderate toenail fungus. Topical solutions may include medicated nail polishes or liquid medications. Loprox , Penlac , Kerydin , and Jublia are among the top prescription drugs for toenail fungus.
Best Treatment For Toenail Fungus
Laser Nail Therapy providers use the PinPointe FootLaser for the treatment of toenail fungus. This laser is FDA-approved and typically only requires a one-time treatment. Other treatments like topical solutions and oral medication are not as effective. Topical solutions have a very low cure rate. This is because the solution does not penetrate all the way through the nail bed. This is because it can lead to liver toxicity. You would need to have consistent blood tests throughout the course of taking the medication.
Our nail doctor in Los Angeles, CA recommends this treatment for toenail fungus. The PinPointe Laser treatment has the highest cure rate in the market. It has no side effects and no recovery period. As a result, you can go about your daily activities right after the treatment. Also, theres no pain. If you have any signs of nail fungus, call us at 672-0625 at our Los Angeles, CA location.
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Bleach Should Not Be Used To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus
Some people get so desperate to get rid of their toenail fungus that they resort to outlandish internet remedies like soaking your feet in chlorine bleach or even ammonia. Needless to say, having these chemicals absorbed into your blood stream can be highly dangerous and it is not recommended.
One option that is chosen by some sufferers is to get a prescription drug from their doctors. The problem with these drugs is that they can have major side effects. Liver damage is even associated with one of the more popular names.
Natural Solutions VS Prescription Drugs
If you are tired of running around with toenail fungus, and having your life impacted by such a simple ailment, you might want to consider a natural topical solution, or oral homeopathic liquid.
These formulas normally contain a variety of ingredients that are effective in helping to kill toenail fungus and give you clear skin and nails again. Natural compounds like jojoba oil, clove oil, tea tree oil, almond oil, and Undecylenic Acid are just a few of the things that can help you to get your feet back to normal.
Getting Rid Of Nail Fungus Is Possible
There is really no need to have toenail fungus for years and years. If you are committed to keeping your feet clean and dry, and avoiding danger zones like public showers and gym floors, it is possible to get rid of toenail fungus safely.
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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 To Do If Your Toenail Is Falling Off
Firstly, stay calm! This happens to the best of us.
If your nail is falling off but is still attached — donât rip it off. This can invite a pretty nasty infection. Just let the nail naturally detach itself or see a doctor for the removal.
If itâs bleeding, apply pressure and cold water until the bleeding stops.
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How To Cure Toenail Fungus
Are you embarrassed to go barefoot at the beach or even in your own backyard? This is the time of year when people often kick off their shoes to cool down. Sandals or flip-flops have become everyday wear in the summer.
The only trouble with baring your tootsies is that everyone can see your toenails. If you have a fungal infection, your nails may be thick, yellow, crumbly and misshapen. They will not be pretty.
So What Causes Toenail Fungus
You can catch toenail fungus in warm, moist places like a pool deck or gym locker rooms. If someone has an infection and walks barefoot on the surface before you, you can easily pick it up, the AAD says.
Having wet nails for long periods of time, like wearing sweaty shoes or soggy boots all day, can also cause toenail fungus.
Certain people are more likely to get toenail fungus than others. Youre more likely to deal with this type of infection if you meet the following criteria:
- You live in a hot, humid climate
- You have athletes foot
- Youve had a nail infection in the past
- You spend a lot of time barefoot
- You wear tight-fitting, closed toe shoes and you have sweaty feet
- You spend a lot of time in water
Ultimately, anyone can get toenail fungus, Dr. Goldenberg says. However, he sees it most commonly with athletes, people who go barefoot at the gym or swimming pool, and older patients.
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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.
Other Options For Toenail Fungus Infections
Removal of the toenail is only used when just one nail is infected, but it does work. Light therapy and lasers are also being studied as possible toenail fungus treatments. Laser therapy has shown promise when combined with oral or topical antifungals. A multicenter trial investigating the efficacy of a device, the Pinpointe FootLaser, is currently underway, so stay tuned to that.
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What Tests Might I Have For Toenail Fungus
Your provider will probably take a small sample from underneath your nail to further analyze it. Viewing the cells under a microscope can confirm a toenail fungus diagnosis. If the initial test is negative, a scraping can be sent to see if the fungus grows out in a culture. It also helps your provider identify the type of fungus.
Can I Wear Nail Polish If I Have Toenail Fungus
You may feel tempted to cover up a discolored toenail with nail polish. If you are using a topical antifungal, you probably should not use polish. Some providers may tell you not to wear it in any case. Polish traps in moisture from the nailbed . Because fungi thrive in moist environments, wearing nail polish may make a fungal infection worse. However, the nail continues to grow with or without polish.
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Pack The Area With Dental Floss Or Cotton
According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, placing cotton under your nail may increase pain and allow harmful bacteria to thrive. Soaking the cotton or floss in alcohol before application may help reduce this risk.