You may not pay much attention to your toenails beyond trimming and painting them — unless a problem emerges. For example, a fungal infection can cause pink, glossy, and smooth toenails to become discolored, thick, brittle, and even painful.
Onychomycosis, also known as toenail fungus infection, is a common but difficult condition; toenail fungus treatments include a variety of techniques with different success rates.
Treatments for Toenail Fungal Infections
To successfully cure a toenail fungal infection, vigilance is generally required. Toenail fungus in its early stages may react to the home remedies suggested below. Next, apply the medication to the infected nail multiple times daily; it may take six months or more to eliminate the infection.
- Both tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil contain antifungal characteristics, and studies have shown they are as effective as other over-the-counter and prescription topical antifungals.
- A Brazilian study demonstrated that ozonated sunflower oil effectively treated toenail fungal infections caused by yeast.
- Researchers discovered that baking soda inhibited fungus growth in 79 percent of studied samples. Apply a mixture of baking soda and water to the affected nail and allow it to remain for at least ten minutes before rinsing.
- Vicks A relatively modest study discovered that this mentholated cream was effective against toenail fungus.
- Although clinical trials have not demonstrated efficacy, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are popular home cures for toenail fungus.
Toenail fungus treatments available over the counter include creams, ointments, sprays, and liquids. Ask your pharmacist for a recommendation or check for the following ingredients, and be sure to follow the instructions carefully:
- Terbinafine (brand name: Lamisil)
When to Consult a Physician for Toenail Fungus
Make an appointment with your healthcare physician or a podiatrist if home treatment does not alleviate your symptoms. They may prescribe a prescription-strength topical medicine or an antifungal pill to be taken orally for two to three months. Typically, oral therapy is more successful, but it may interact with other medications. Additionally, oral therapy can impact the liver. Therefore liver function tests may be required while taking medicine.
Laser treatment for toenail fungus can improve the nail temporarily but has a lower cure rate than oral medication.
In difficult situations that do not respond to treatment, the infected nail may be surgically removed to treat the nail bed; a healthy nail will subsequently regrow. Conversely, a nail that is consistently diseased and uncomfortable may be removed permanently.
Unfortunately, the recurrence rate for toenail fungus can be as high as 40 percent.
The Avoidance of Toenail Fungus
Follow these steps to maintain healthy toenails:
- After swimming, wash your feet with soap and water and thoroughly dry them.
- Wear shower shoes in public spaces and locker rooms.
- Wear shoes that fit properly and are composed of materials that allow airflow.
- Remove wet or damp socks and shoes, and dry your feet as quickly as possible.
- Disinfect nail clippers and pedicure instruments for the home.
- If you have pedicures, you should check that your salon follows the correct disinfection protocols, and you should wash and dry your feet when you return home.
- Polish should not be applied to diseased nails.
- If you have an athlete’s foot, the infection must be treated.