Which Treatments Work For Nail Fungus Infections?

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.

nail_fungus

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:

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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.

 

There are lots of things you can do to avoid getting a nail infection again. To find out more, see How to keep from getting a fungal nail infection.

Treatments for fungal nail infections

Which treatments work best? We’ve carefully weighed the research and divided treatments for fungal nail infections into three categories.

For help in deciding which treatment is best for you, see How to use medical research to support your treatment decisions.

Benefits very likely outweigh harms

Itraconazole pills (brand name Sporanox): These are antifungal pills. They treat nail infections caused by a fungus.

Terbinafine pills (brand name Lamisil): These are antifungal pills. They treat nail infections caused by a fungus.

lamisil-treatment

Benefits likely outweigh harms

Fluconazole pills (brand name Diflucan): These are antifungal pills. They treat infections caused by a fungus. But fluconazole isn’t usually given to people with nail infections.

Ciclopirox lacquer: You might want to use this antifungal nail polish if you don’t want to take pills and your infection is mild. The brand name of ciclopirox used for fungal nail infection is Penlac Nail Lacquer.

Needs further study

Griseofulvin pills (brand name Grifulvin V): Griseofulvin is an antibiotic. It doesn’t seem to work as well as some other pills against fungal infections. More…

grifulvin_v

Ketoconazole pills (brand name Nizoral): Ketoconazole is an antifungal drug that isn’t used very often because it can cause liver damage. More…

Terbinafine cream or spray: You can use an antifungal drug called terbinafine as a cream or a spray. The brand name is Lamisil. More…

Removing part or all of your nail: If your infection is severe or keeps coming back, your doctor may suggest removing some or all of your nail. But this isn’t done very often. More…

For most people, nail fungus is not a health risk, but more of a cosmetic problem. Many are very unhappy about the appearance of toenails that are infected by fungus. The longer the infection lasts, the more discolored, thickened, ingrown, and deformed the nail.

Affected toenails can cause slight discomfort to more severe pain, depending on how thickened, ingrown and malformed your toenail or toenails become. The amount of discomfort also depends on which toenails are affected and what kind of shoes you wear.

If you are diabetic, fungal nail infections can become a more serious problem. Diabetics often do not have normal sensation in their toes and feet. That means they may not feel the discomfort of an ingrown nail with onychomycosis. If you are diabetic, an ingrown nail can lead to a bacterial infection in the surrounding tissues. So can any cuts you might accidentally make when trying to trim your toenails. If you do not feel the pain of an infection, it can become serious before you realize it.

If you have poor circulation in your legs and feet (called peripheral artery disease or PAD) or an abnormal immune system, onychomycosis may also cause similar problems for you. Therefore 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.

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35 thoughts on “Which Treatments Work For Nail Fungus Infections?

  1. marc selner d.p.m. says:

    This product is all natural and works when others don’t. The reason is penetration. This product penetrates the nail and nail bed for a cure. It is guaranteed 100% money back. The secret is the lipid channels in the nail. This has a patent pending carrier system that carries the antifungals through the keratin by means of the lipid channels. I have seen 100s of cure, and the doctors and patients who use it, have seen cures when nothing else works. It should be available in most drug stores within a year.. Right now you can purchase it on the website, or through doctors. Thanks Marc Selner D.P.M.

  2. Former toenail fungus patient says:

    I was diagnosed with toenail fungus by my doctor, but the treatment he prescribed, along with regular blood tests for possible liver damage, really scared me off a drug solution. I recommend you try a home remedy solution first. Many of them cost under $50 total (using natural ingredients like vinegar or tea tree oil), without the potential damage of drugs. These remedies completely cleared up my condition within just a few months much to my Dr.’s surprise! (But always see your doctor first!)

  3. Best Toenail Fungus Treatment says:

    I always kind of cringe when I see Lamisil because it can be a bit dangerous even when used properly. There seems to be a lot of talk about the new laser toenail fungus treatments because they are painless and only take about 45 minutes. The drawback is the cost of about $1000. Some people will just deal with their nail fungus versus paying a grand for the treatment. Despite the costs, it seems to work pretty good.

    Neo

  4. Micheal Dunston says:

    Lamisil is a very bad choice for getting rid of toenail fungus especially when there are other options available that have no side effects and can be acquired for virtually nothing.

  5. Steven Poster says:

    I found that biting on my toenails got rid of the fungus. Maybe its
    something in the saliva that did it. It worked but you have to do it
    a lot, hmmm maybe I inadvertently chewed them off and new ones grew on?
    Well either way it works.

  6. Here is a cure that I found really works and is cheap. Go out and buy
    yourself a 6″ diameter magnifying glass and use it to zap
    the affected areas of your nails with sunlight! Do a 5 min
    session every other day for two weeks, as you feel is needed
    thereafter. Use topical antifungals to prevent reinfection

  7. P.S. This treatment worked for me! It took about 10 mo. for the nail
    to grow out and it looks fine!

  8. selrach is bang on with the magnifying glass suggestion. I carefully filed my infected toenail down as far as I could with an engraving tool, then zapped it until it hurt with a magnifying glass. I zoomed in and held it until it was unbearable, then waited few seconds and repeated about 10 times. I only did this once and followed up with daily lamisil application and I can see the new healhty nail growing out

  9. I’m looking at the post by Marc Seiner from Jan 2009. Can anyone tell me
    what product he is talking about?