How Do You Treat Toenail Fungus
Depending on the nature and severity of your infection, treatments may vary. Most over-the-counter treatments are minimally effective at best, but almost none of them have produced a permanent treatment. The main reason for these poor results is that the fungal infection resides deep within the nail or nail bed and the topical medications have great difficulty in penetrating to this depth. A fungus may work its way through the entire nail, penetrating both the nail plate and the nail bed. Podiatrist Dr. Burns at Arizona Foot Doctors offers penetrative nail fungus treatments to completely remove the fungal infection. Each patient case is unique, so consult with Dr. Burns to find the best treatment option for you. Treatment may include:
- Topical or oral medication and debridement . The newer oral antifungal medications are the most effective . Common oral medications are Lamisil and Sporanox. A common topical medication is Penlac nail lacquer.
- Temporary removal of the infected nail
- Permanent removal
How Effective Are Tablets In Treating Nail Fungus
Tablets for the treatment of nail fungus have been tested in several studies. All participants had an infection on their toenails caused by a skin fungus. Overall, the study results showed that tablets are considerably more effective than nail polishes or creams.
One year after a three-month treatment with terbinafine:
- About 17 out of 100 people who didnt have this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
- About 76 out of 100 people who had this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
In other words, the treatment with terbinafine got rid of the fungal infection in about 59 out of 100 people.
Itraconazole also proved to be effective. After one year,
- 7 out of 100 people who didnt have this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
- About 43 out of 100 people who had this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
In other words, the treatment with itraconazole got rid of the fungal infection in about 36 out of 100 people.
Some studies directly compared itraconazole and terbinafine with each other. They confirm that terbinafine is somewhat more effective than itraconazole.
Treatment with breaks is thought to be about as effective as continuous treatment. But that has only been looked into in a few studies.
What Is A Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal nail infections are a common problem that can affect any nail, but most often affects the toenails.
They’re caused by the growth of fungal spores that make their way between the toenail and the skin underneath the nail bed. The spores feed off the skin or the keratin in the nail.
The type of fungi responsible for athletes foot, another common foot condition that affects the skin mainly between the toes, can cause the infection to spread to the nails.
More rarely, fungal nail infections can be caused by other types of fungi, usually yeasts, which tend to attack nails that are already damaged because they are easier for the fungi to invade.
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What Does Fungal Nail Look Like
Usually, it first appears on the edge of your nail, under the tip, as a white or yellow streak. This streak gradually spreads down the side of your nail to the base.
Eventually, your nail becomes brittle, discoloured, thickened and distorted. It can become so thick that it hurts when pressed against the side of a shoe.
The nail may end up crumbling and splitting, and separating from the skin. It often turns yellow or brown.
The surrounding skin may also become infected and may itch, crack, form a blister, or appear white especially between the toes. Its important to act quickly if you notice any of these symptoms. If you don’t treat the infection, there’s a chance it will worsen and spread to other nails.
Risk Factors Associated With Toenail Fungus
Certain health conditions and lifestyle factors can make you increasingly vulnerable to developing nail fungus:
Health: You have a greater chance of contracting a fungal nail infection if you suffer from one or more of the following issues:
- Other fungal skin infections, such as athletes foot or ringworm
- Increasingly brittle, crumbly, or ragged nail
- Nail that appears warped or distorted in shape
- Nail that appears dull without any luster
- Dark color, caused by the accumulation of debris under your nail
- Slightly foul odor in the affected area
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If you suspect your nails are infected with fungus, it is important to see a doctor. You should consult a doctor for treatment. A nail fungus can be treated with home remedies. Baking soda and vinegar can also help to eliminate the fungus. In some cases, you can even apply a diluted solution of one of these solutions. You should avoid touching the affected area as it may cause further complications.
What Side Effects And Drug
The possible side effects of itraconazole include headaches, dizziness, stomach and bowel problems, and rashes. Itraconazole can also interact with a number of other drugs. These include cholesterol-reducing and blood-sugar-lowering medications, as well as certain sleeping pills. It is therefore important to let your doctor know about any medication you take. Itraconazole is not an option for people with heart failure . It also isnt suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Terbinafine can cause gastrointestinal problems and a temporary loss of taste and smell. It can also interact with certain antidepressants and heart medications. Overall, terbinafine has far fewer drug-drug interactions than itraconazole. Nevertheless, its still important to tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication. As a precaution, this medication should not be taken during pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding.
The studies only rarely reported on how often the different side effects occurred. But most people tolerate nail fungus medications well. Only a few people in the studies stopped treatment because of side effects.
But there is a very small risk of liver damage from taking itraconazole or terbinafine. For this reason, people with a liver disease are only given these medications if its absolutely necessary.
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The Importance Of Hygiene
When treating a fungal nail, always wash your hands after applying a treatment and remember to use a separate towel for your feet when youre drying them. Its a good idea to tell those close to you about your fungal nail infection so they can take precautions too. Dont share shoes or socks with them as it can be contagious.
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.
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When Are The Different Treatments Considered
Most doctors recommend treating nail fungus with nail polish or cream if
- not much more than half of the nail is affected by the fungus,
- the base of the nail is not infected, and
- only some nails are affected.
Topical treatment is also usually recommended for children. One reason for this is that most oral medications arent suitable for children. Another reason is that children have thinner nails that grow more quickly, so its assumed that treatment with nail polish or creams is more likely to work in children than in adults. White superficial onychomycosis is also often treated with a nail polish or cream.
If several nails are infected by the fungus, or if the infection has spread out more on the affected nails, its usually necessary to take oral medication. And if the infection started at the base of the nail, its highly likely that only tablets will help.
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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.
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Treatment Options For Fungal Nail
Treatment options, some of which can be prescribed by your GP and the others found at your local pharmacy, include:
Antifungal nail creams or paints
These are applied directly to the nail over several months and are most effective when used at the early stages of the infection. They aren’t generally considered to be as effective as tablets because it can be difficult for the product to reach the deep layers of the nail. Some people choose them over tablets because side effects are less common. These are available over the counter.
A paste is applied to soften the infected area. This is then covered with a plaster for 24 hours. The next day, the paste is washed off and the softened nail gently scraped away.
This process has to be repeated every day for two to three weeks. When no more of the infected nail can be removed, an antifungal paint is applied to prevent re-infection as the nail grows over the next few months. These kits are available from your pharmacist.
These are only available on prescription and need to be taken for several months, before the infection has completely cleared up. Some tablets are unsuitable for people taking certain medicines, and some people may experience side effects. Always see your doctor or pharmacist for advice about medicines.
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.
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Verywell Health / Sabrina Jiang
Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. But if left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes.
The fungus often begins in the form of athlete’s foot between the toes or on the soles of the feet. At this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medication. But Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, told Verywell Health toenail fungus can be difficult to treat because of how slow the nails grow. 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, she says.
Diagnosing the fungal infection early is key to make treatments effective. Dr. Lipner recommends visiting a board-certified dermatologist to properly treat the infection if it grows to be too severe.
Here are a few of the best over-the-counter toenail fungus treatments on the market.
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When To Contact A Doctor
Toenail fungus is typically not a significant problem for most people. However, if there are no improvements or complications occur as a result of home remedies, people should speak with a doctor and stop using the home remedy as soon as possible. It is also advisable to contact a podiatrist if a person notices any discoloration, thickening, or abnormality of the toenails.
Furthermore, people at higher risk for complications should seek medical treatment for their toenail fungus and avoid home remedies altogether. This includes those with diabetes or with weakened immune systems.
Clean Socks And Shoes
Regularly changing your socks and shoes can also cut down on the growth of unwanted foot fungus. Both socks and athletic shoes can also be washed in hot water to rid the growth of yeasts and fungi that may be growing on the fabric. Some shoes can be machine dried. Drying shoes in the sun is another option when cleaning footwear.
Adding a half-cup of baking soda or one cup of vinegar to the washing machine can help eliminate bacteria or fungus on socks or shoes.
Boots and other footwear that are not machine washable could be wiped out with a vinegar and water solution or sprayed with an over-the-counter antifungal spray. Medicated powders are also helpful in treating shoes for foot fungus.
Allowing the feet to breathe by taking off shoes and socks when possible can prevent fungal growth. Protect your feet by wearing breathable footwear and clean socks. Antimicrobial socks and shoes made from bamboo, copper, or specialty fabrics are also available. They can help reduce unwanted bacteria and yeast from growing in your footwear.
A proactive approach to keeping your feet clean and dry can prevent the spread of toenail fungus. You can wash or soak feet with warm soapy water or a foot bath using everyday household items. Soaking your feet in an all-natural, homeopathic concoction can be beneficial in reducing or eliminating toenail fungus.
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Ways To Get Rid Of Foot Fungus Fast And Naturally
Do you have fungus on foot? Do you know how to treat foot fungus with the available home remedies? Foot fungus is a common problem. Anyone can have foot fungus. Some of the symptoms of the foot fungus are inflammation, yellowing, and swelling. Foot fungus is not painful and it is harmless as well.
It might appear as the result of the abnormal pH levels, weak immune system, and more exposure to the moist environment. Foot fungus is curable and you can cure it naturally with some effective home treatment. There are many useful home remedies for foot fungus, although if symptoms persist of worsen you should consider contact a medical professional such as this Natural Healthcare Center. If you are looking to cure the fungus naturally then consider the following ten remedies to get rid of foot fungus fast.
How Effective Are Topical Treatments
So far, only a few studies have looked into topical nail fungus treatments with nail polishes or creams. Because these studies had weaknesses, the results should be interpreted with caution. Amorolfine has not yet been well studied. Ciclopirox polish and treatment sets with urea and bifonazole cream were tested in a few studies.
Research on the effectiveness of nail polish containing ciclopirox showed that, after one year:
- About 10 out of 100 people who did not use ciclopirox no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
- About 32 out of 100 people who used ciclopirox no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
In other words, treatment with ciclopirox got rid of the fungal infection in about 22 out of 100 people. But even if the fungus had gone away, the cosmetic result wasnt always satisfying. The nails only looked healthy after treatment in 7 out of 100 people.
Treatment with sets containing urea and bifonazole cream was tested in one study. It was compared with a treatment in which only urea cream was applied and the nail was removed, but without applying bifonazole cream afterwards. Three months after treatment was completed, it was found that:
- No fungus was visible or detectable in about 41 out of 100 people who only used urea cream.
- No fungus was visible or detectable in about 51 out of 100 people who used both urea and bifonazole cream.
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Dangers Of Traditional Treatment Options
Fungal nail infection is treatable with oral anti-fungal drugs, topical medications, surgery, or laser treatments. The problem with these modern treatments, however, is that they can sometimes cause complications. Depending on the chosen treatment, some of the possible side effects that may occur include skin rashes, blisters, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, respiratory problems, abnormal nail growth, or liver damage.
Due to the many risks associated with modern treatments for fungal nail infection, many people are now opting for alternative remedies that are relatively safer. As an added bonus, its also possible to treat fungal nail infection using just a few basic ingredients one already has available at home.