In the world of microorganisms, fungi are a pretty hardy bunch. There are generally harder to kill than bacteria and viruses. Dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds invade nails and dig themselves deep within the nail itself. Thus an already resilient organism is even further protected by layers and layers of keratin. Because of these reasons, treating onychomycoses has been difficult, historically. Even powerful oral antimycotic medications are not 100% effective. In light of this, can any over-the-counter nail fungus treatment be effective?
Fortunately there are a number of topical over-the-counter treatments that can effectively treat nail fungus infections. One over-the-counter topical onychomycosis drug that has been shown to be effective in a few clinical trials is amorolfine. Amorolfine is available without a prescription in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and certain other countries. It is marketed under the brand name Loceryl. Amorolfine is distributed as a nail lacquer and the effective concentration is also the way in which it is sold, namely 5%. Amorolfine nail lacquer is painted on the nail, like polish, and then dries, leaving behind the drug. The drug is able to penetrate the nail and reach the site of the fungal infection. This drug penetration takes place over a week’s time.
Proximal subungual onychomycosis is the least common onychomycosis in healthy persons though it occurs fairly often in immunocompromised individuals. One of the more unique features of proximal subungual onychomycosis is that the fungus invades the nail at the cuticle and becomes intimately associated with the nail bed. The disease moves along with the growing nail toward the tip.
The short answer is that no one really knows for sure. There hasn’t been much research on removing some or all of the nail to treat fungal nail infection. This treatment isn’t used very often, but your doctor might suggest it if your infection is severe or keeps coming back. If you are experiencing recurring nail fungus infestation then this might be a bigger issue with your immune system and your overall general health. You might want to discuss with your doctor doing a cleanse and changing your diet to include more organic live foods and stay away from cooked foods.
Fungal infection of the nails (nail fungus) medically known as Onychomycosis, is a very common condition especially in the toenails. For most people, nail fungus is not a health risk, but more of a cosmetic problem. However If you are diabetic, have poor circulation and/or a weakened immune system, nail fungus can become a very serious problem.
It is imperative to treat nail fungus quickly once an infection starts.
Most nail infections are caused by dermatophytes, called that because they only infect the skin (or dermis) and skin structures like nails. Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes cause most of the infection, with T. rubrum responsible for as many as 90% of onychomycosis cases. Candida (yeast) as well as certain molds can also infect nails.
Diagram of Toenail Fungus
How to Treat Nail Fungus
There are a number of ways to deal with onychomycosis. They almost always include cutting away as much of the affected nails first. These include:
With the right treatment, you should be able to get rid of a nail infection caused by fungus, even if you’ve had it for years or it’s very bad. But you may have to be patient. It could take months to clear up.
Key points about treating fungal nail infections
- To get rid of a fungal nail infection, you will probably have to take a treatment, sometimes for up to six months.
- Fingernail infections tend to clear up quicker than toenail infections. You may need to take medication for only six weeks for a fingernail infection.
- Some Prespcription Medication can sometimes damage your liver (though this is rare) and you may have a test to check if your liver is healthy before starting a nail fungus treatment.
- Normally doctors recommend pills for this condition, but there are also treatments you can put on an infected nail. If the problem is mild, you might be given a nail varnish or use tea tree oil that kills the fungal infection.
- If your infection is severe or keeps coming back, your doctor might recommend removing part or all of your nail. But this treatment is rarely used.
- If your nail infection doesn’t bother you, you may wish to leave it alone.
By: Susan Miller MS BSN RN
Nail fungus, otherwise known as Onychomycosis, has been recognized as being a very difficult type of fungal infection to treat. It is a cosmetic condition that most often affects the toenails. Risk factors for nail fungus include increased age, male gender, diabetes, nail trauma, hyperhydrosis, peripheral vascular disease, athlete’s foot, immunodeficiency, poor hygiene, and chronic exposure of the nails to water. There are many species of fungus that can infect the nail. Often in nail infections several types of fungus will be present at the same time. All nail fungus infections result in thickened, discolored, and distorted nails.
In the past, treatment options were limited and often not very effective. Now there are several treatment options available to cure nail fungus. It is important to see your health care provider to ensure that it is truly a fungal infection you are dealing with before any treatment starts. There are other disorders (such as: Psoriasis, Lichen planus, contact dermatitis, and certain bacterial infections) that can cause similar looking nail problems. Your doctor can verify if it is indeed a fungal infection by examining nail scrapings and clippings under a microscope and submitting these samples to a lab to be cultured.
Nowadays there are many products available to treat toenail fungus, of these treatments there are oral or topical, and natural or prescription. The topical treatment is often preferred over the systemic medication because the topical treatment has far fewer side effects than the oral. The prescription medication Penlac (Ciclopirox) is a fairly new drug only approved in the United States by the FDA in 1999, and then in 2004 in Canada. This was extremely exciting news in the medical world as the common treatment for toenail fungus until this point was a long harsh regimen of oral anti-fungal medication, which carried a high risk of side affects.
Infections related to toenail fungus are fairly common conditions that affect approximately 10% of the American population. The fungus that invades your nail is a living organism that thrives in dark, damp conditions. While the fungus has the potential to occur in the fingernail, it is far more common in the toes because of the desirable environment of the foot. This fungus can live along side the nail, or under the nail; however, this may depend on many factors such as the progression or severity of the condition.
Rarely is there a natural treatment that comes along so effective that medical doctors suggest using it before prescription medicine. Well, tea tree oil is one of those rare cases, many doctors and hospitals alike suggest the use of tea tree oil over the more harsh effects of prescription medication. This natural medicine is so effective that it has been suggested as a therapeutic remedy by the Mayo clinic. To better understand the effects of tea tree oil, you must understand the plant itself, and its physical properties.
Medications used to treat toenail fungal infections are classified as an anti-fungal. These drugs are often taken by mouth, and have frequently been associated with a long list of risky side effects, as well as being rather pricey. While the majority of prescribed anti-fungal agents are oral medication, there are also a few topical fungicides that doctors use to treat an infection in the early stages. Oral or topical the normal length of treatment is 12 weeks for toenail fungus and 6 week for fingernail.
There are several products available on the web, and all of them claim to be the very best at curing toenail fungal infections. However, there are two products that stand out against the rest they are Zetaclear and Nail Rx. There are many success story’s associated with these products and the best thing is they are all natural. Many of these toenail fungal infection medications are quite pricey and this is no exception when it comes to Zetaclear and Nail Rx, Zetaclear will run you about $60.00 for two bottles, and Nail Rx is about $75.00 for two.