Stop This Skin Infection In Its Tracks With These Over
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Verywell / 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.
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.
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.
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How Do I Choose The Best Over
Usually, the best over-the-counter nail fungus treatments contain antifungal ingredients and come in nail lacquer form. You may also get results from over-the-counter remedies that contain herbal treatments, such as tea tree oil. Some people also report that topical ointments that contain camphor may help. Unfortunately, however, many over-the-counter nail fungus treatments fail to get rid of nail fungus completely, so a person may get better results from prescription medication.
Among the best over-the-counter nail fungus treatments are antifungal nail lacquers that can be painted directly on the affected nail. Usually, you use this type of treatment by painting it on the affected nail every day until a new nail grows in that is free of the fungus. Most over-the-counter nail fungus treatments of this type also include instructions for painting a little of the lacquer on the skin immediately surrounding the affected nails. This may help prevent the spread of the fungus.
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Doctors Weigh Best Treatments
The best treatment for fungal nail infections is a prescription that your dermatologist can prescribe that you take every day for two-to-three months. The pill is not for everyone, since oral antifungals can interact with other medications and can affect the liver.
Fortunately if you dont want to or cant take a pill, there are topical solutions to treat nail fungus. Although topical medications are desirable because of the low risk of side effects and interaction with other medications, they have much longer treatment regimens. Generally, topical medications have a lower clearance rate compared to oral pills.
Newer topical antifungals including Efinaconazole and Tavaborole have better penetration of the nail plate and so they work better compared to older topical medications, says Dr. Ng. She says the topical medications work best if you only have partial nail involvement.
Lasers are approved by the FDA to temporarily increase the amount of clear nail. However, the cure rates are lower than oral medications and topical solutions.
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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.
The 4 Best Toenail Fungus Treatments
When you start to notice discoloration in your toenails, it might be a sign that you have a case of onychomycosis, a toenail fungus. An estimated 40 million people have this common condition. Luckily, you donât have to live with thickening, peeling, splitting, or discolored nails. There are tons of over-the-counter treatment options available to restore your toenails to health. Choosing the best toenail fungus treatment will help many cases with a speedy remedy.
Thereâs a variety of treatments that you can conveniently purchase online to help including antifungals, essential oil treatments, and even a medicated foot soak. According to WebMD, topical treatments with ingredients such as undecylenic acid, clotrimazole, tolnaftate, or terbinafine are all effective at clearing up fungal infections. Others swear by natural essential oils like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, ozonized sunflower oil, and even baking soda to inhibit growth, improve nail appearance, and speed up healing. However, according to the dermatologist, Dr. Christopher Hull of the University of Utah, if your new nail growth does not clear up after a few weeks of treatment, there are powerful oral medications you should speak to a dermatologist.
To help keep your feet and toes healthy, hereâs my list of the best toenail fungus treatments on Amazon. All of these top-rated topical over-the-counter treatments have potent ingredients for fighting and clearing up fungal infections.
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What Are The Symptoms
A nail with a fungal infection may:
- Turn yellow or white.
- Get thicker.
- Crumble and split, and it may separate from the skin.
When you have a fungal nail infection, it can be uncomfortable or even painful to wear shoes, walk, or stand for a long time. The fungus could also spread to other nails or your skin. Over time, the infection can cause permanent damage to your nail or nail bed.
How To Prevent Both Foot And Toenail Fungus
While toenail fungus and foot fungus arent the same condition, the following tips can help you prevent both, says Sundling:
- Practice good hygiene, such as keeping your feet clean.
- Alternate your shoes during the week. Your feet sweat all day long. Alternating your shoes allows them to dry out, so the fungus cant survive.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks that help dry out shoes and kill fungus. You can find these at running stores and athletic stores. If your socks are exceptionally sweaty, changing them more than once per day can help.
- Wear shoes in public places like locker rooms, pools, and gyms to limit exposure to fungus.
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Best Ways To Treat A Nail Fungus
Nail fungus can cause thick, discolored nails, and, for some patients, it can even be painful. An Internet search will bring up plenty of ways to treat the condition, but which ones are best? Dermatologist Dr. Christopher Hull discusses what nail fungus actually is, why its so hard to get rid of, and which treatments work best.
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How Is Toenail Fungus Diagnosed
Nearly 3 million people in the United States are diagnosed with toenail fungus each year. Men are up to three times more likely to develop toenail fungus than women. You are also at a higher risk for a toenail fungus infection if you smoke or have diabetes. Also, individuals with compromised immune systems may experience toenail fungus that can turn into an infection.
When feet remain moist or damp, the fungus can grow, causing discoloration and thickening of toenails. Infection can cause discomfort and pain. The spread of fungus and infection can go from toe to toe, hand, fingernails, or skin on other parts of the body.
The toenail may become warped, cracked, or loosen itself away from the nail bed. Often the nail appears yellowish and may have white spots. Your doctor will examine your feet and potentially take a small sample of skin or nail to be sent off to a laboratory for testing. Your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist, podiatrist, or other healthcare professional if your condition is unusual or needs special care. Other foot conditions such as psoriasis can look similar to a fungal infection. Lab reports can indicate if the problem is fungal, helping the doctor prescribe the best medication for effective treatment.
Best Toenail Fungus Treatments And Anti
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Have you noticed a whitish or yellowish spot forming on the tip of your toenail? Has the nail become brittle, ragged, and crumbly? Does the shape seem out-of-whack? Is there discharge coming out of it thats yellowish-brown or white? Do you smell a foul odor coming from it? Does putting on a shoe, walking on it, or even just touching the problem toe cause pain?
If you answered yes to any of the questions mentioned above, then theres a good chance toenail fungus is to blame. Dont panic! Fungal infections are pretty common in the nails, and the toes are most commonly affected by this affliction. Several factors contribute to the development of toenail fungus, including athletes foot, nail, or skin injuries, walking around barefoot in damp communal areas , and even heavy sweating. Individuals who suffer from circulating problems have diabetes and weakened immune systems are also more prone to fungal nail infections.
Whatever the cause, toenail fungus can be very off-putting. Not only is it gross to look at , but it can be downright painful. In extreme cases, a fungal infection can cause permanent damage to the nail, and it could potentially spread beyond your toe to other parts of the body.
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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.
How Do You Get A Fungal Nail Infection
Most fungal nail infections occur as a result of the fungi that cause athlete’s foot infecting the nails.
These fungi often live harmlessly on your skin, but they can sometimes multiply and lead to infections. The fungi prefer warm, dark and moist places like the feet.
You’re more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:
- don’t keep your feet clean and dry
- wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty
- walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms
- have damaged your nails
- have a weakened immune system
- have certain other health conditions, such as diabetes, psoriasis or peripheral arterial disease
Fungal nail infections can be spread to other people, so you should take steps to avoid this if you have an infection.
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When To Refer To Podiatry
Before initiating topical or oral therapy, patients should ideally be referred to a podiatrist for nail trimming and debridement. This assists with removing as much fungus as possible and improves topical drug penetration. Debridement alone cannot be recommended for the treatment of OM patients using a combination of debridement and topical nail lacquer have shown a significant improvement in mycological cure compared with debridement only. Patients with nail trauma owing to footwear, dystrophic toenails affecting other toes or who describe discomfort when walking owing to thickened toenails should also be referred.
When there is treatment failure with topical, oral and combination therapies, a podiatrist may be able to carry out a chemical or surgical nail avulsion .
If there is doubt over the original diagnosis, or where no improvement has been seen with treatment, pharmacists should refer patients to a podiatrist or their GP.
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Make An Antifungal Foot Soak
Soaking your feet can also be a useful technique in reducing or eliminating toenail fungus. Many common household items can be used to make a healing antifungal foot bath. Mix one or more of the following with warm water and soak feet for 15 to 20 minutes. After foot bath, rinse feet with clean water and pat dry.
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Thieves oil
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When To See A Doctor
In most cases, toenail fungus is considered a cosmetic problem. Still, it may cause serious complications for some people.
If you have diabetes, toenail fungus may lead to foot ulcers or other foot problems. According to a 2012 study, chronic toenail fungus is a significant risk factor for bacterial cellulitis of the leg.
If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you shouldnt use home remedies for toenail fungus. Contact your doctor for the appropriate course of action.
Softening And Scraping Away The Nail
As it can take a long time for antifungal medication to work, some people may prefer to use a treatment that involves softening and removing infected parts of nail over a few weeks.
Treatment kits are available from pharmacies that contain a 40% urea paste, plasters and a scraping device. The paste softens the infected parts of the nail, allowing them to be scraped away so they can be gradually replaced with healthy nail.
To use the treatment:
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