Treatment for Nail Fungus
Nail fungus, in the simplest of terms, is a fungal infection that impacts your toenails. You can also get nail fungus on your fingernails, although it is uncommon. While not serious, nail fungus can lead to brittle nails which may eventually fall off. So, what can you do about it? In this article, we’re going to examine what nail fungus is and the treatment for nail fungus.
What is Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus, as mentioned above, is an infection that often appears as a yellow spot under the nail. When this infection spreads, the nail may fall off. Additionally, if the fungus impacts the skin, it is known as “athlete’s foot.”
Some common symptoms of nail fungus include:
- Thickening nails.
- Yellow, brown, or white discharge.
- Distorted nail.
- Brittle or “crumbling” nail.
- A foul smell.
The main cause of nail fungus is dermatophyte fungi. While you can get fungus at any age, it is more common to happen in people later in age. It’s theorized that reduced blood flow and weakened immunity may play a role in the development of nail fungus. Additionally, heavy sweating is associated with the development of fungus.
5 Treatments for Nail Fungus
It’s important to treat nail fungus to avoid it from getting worse. Most cases also won’t resolve on their own. Here are a few medical and home remedies you may want to consider:
1. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has many uses. And if you’re into the all-natural realm of things, this might be the route you want to take to treat your nail fungus. Some research, via small clinical studies, demonstrates that tea tree oil could potentially treat nail fungus.
Apply tea tree oil to the nail twice daily, using cotton swabs or something similar.
2. Snakeroot Extract
Snakeroot extract is used medicinally for a variety of reasons, including high blood pressure and mental illness. It’s also shown great promise in treating nail fungus due to its potent anti-fungal effects. In fact, research even shows how snakeroot extract might be more effective than the commonly prescribed ciclopirox.
3. Vicks VapoRub
This one might come as a bit of a surprise! However, Vicks VapoRub, which includes eucalyptus and camphor, may have a positive effect on nail fungus and studies even back this up.
Like other remedies, applying this once or twice a day directly to the nail can help your fungus disappear.
4. Oral Anti-Fungal Drugs
If you book a visit to your doctor, they may prescribe you medication that targets the fungi, such as terbinafine and itraconazole. These oral drugs help a healthy nail grow after the fungus-infected part of the nail grows out.
Unfortunately, these medications must be taken for about 6–12 weeks for them to be effective. In some cases, it may even take four months for the fungus to disappear with oral medication.
Additionally, you want to be cautious using these medications since they can have various side effects including liver damage and skin rashes. For those with skin conditions and liver diseases, your doctor probably won’t recommend these drugs and may opt for more all-natural remedies.
5. Medicated Nail Polish or Nail Cream
Ciclopirox is one of the most common prescriptions for nail fungus. Like nail polish, you simply paint it on your nail once each day. You do this for a week, before wiping it off with alcohol and starting the process over again. For severe cases, an individual may have to do this for a year or more.
Then, there are antifungal nail creams. These are usually applied after you’ve briefly soaked the nail. For this option, you can get over-the-counter or prescription creams.
Preventing Nail Fungus
While treatment can help you combat a current fungus infection, what can you do to prevent a future one? Here are a few tips:
- Make sure to wash both your feet and hands regularly.
- Trim your nails and file them down regularly.
- If you sweat excessively, change your socks.
- Wear shoes that allow your feet air to breathe.
- Wear flip-flops or swim shoes in changerooms and shared pools.
- Avoid nail polish and fake nails.
In severe cases of nail fungus, surgery may be required to remove the nail and apply the topical medication directly to the affected area. Additionally, removal of the nail may be necessary if your pain becomes debilitating.