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.


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.


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…


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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39 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.


  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?

  10. I’ve been treating my toenails with several over-the-counter medicine. None of them seems to cure the fungi but they softened the nails so that I could cut and file them real thin. Actually 90% of the infected nails are gone and the nail bed looks good. However, I had infection as I often cut too deep and the toes bleed. I’m considering buying ZetaClear and lazer treatment in case the former does not work.

  11. Pool Service Miami says:

    Determined I was wondering if the ZetaClear has worked for you? I am considering buying it but I’m not sure what product to buy.

  12. see i have this friend who has a nasty toenail fungus. so nasty i can’t
    bear the sight o fit.oh man thinking about it just makes me feel the same.
    anyway, he wants to purchase these products online: Zetaclear, an anti-fungal
    cream, then Fungusil, an anti-fungal liquid ointment. i’m wondering if
    these products really work or not. he’s very confident with them, and i do
    hope his confidence rewards him. in the official sites of Zetaclear and Fungusil,
    they both claim being made from all-natural ingredients, and claim to be
    safe and effective.they also offer a full money back guarantee. you can google
    their respective sites, they’re easy to find. i hope anyone can help me here, or
    does anyone here have a better suggestion than Zetaclear or Fungusil.Thanks.

  13. Joy Robinson says:

    Thanks for this informative post. I know how hard it is to find the right remedy for
    nail fungus as I suffered from this condition before. Instead of settling for prescribed
    medications I used home remedies like tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar soak and dilute
    clorox soak. I combined these remedies with an over the counter anti-fungal treatment
    called Fungusil.

  14. best choice! ::
    If your nail infection doesn’t bother you, you may wish to leave it alone.
    …yeah right-that’s exactly why i’m here!
    .ok the file thing kinda worked4 1of my toenails…but i’ve got my big toes
    and2others….it’s disgusting i know&i’ve had it4over 10 years n i’m only 21
    …but i wanna get married soon [if God so wills] and i’m mad about feet…
    this girls feet are so perfect damn it makes me so much more self-concious
    about mine even though i don’t think girls are that mad over feet…
    but i need this gone last year! cos we’re both in our 2nd last year of study
    i really really really really need this gone

  15. I have been reading all of the comments and have no clue what to do first? Does anyone have pain associated with their fungus? Mine is very painful, only in my big toes, but the smaller toenails seem to be disfiguring..I thought it was from being on my feet so much and wearing too tight of shoes. Any adivice would be greatly appreciated..

  16. Concur with the Magnifying glass. I actually tried it before searching on the internet. Over 15+ years I’ve tried the pills (twice), a multitude of topical treatments, debridement until almost all the nail was gone – It came back every time.

    On impulse, figuring that lasers are just light, I took my son’s magnifying glass and used it on my toenail. Didn’t take it to a point as that would burn, but got it as small as tolerable and went over the whole nail and could feel it heating up. Did this only twice (the nail was debrided at the time). It has been months now and the nail is alomst fully grown back in with no sign of re-infection.

    Try it, but be carefull you don’t burn yourself.

  17. After having this problem for over 40 years &trying every natural remedy, icluding creams & even having all my nails cut off. I was going to the doc’s to get a precripition for pills, after reading through the replys I’m gonna try the magnifying glass, hadn’t heard of it before, thanks all.

  18. Thanks for the magnifying glass treatment idea! Had never heard that. I have tried soaking feet in sunlight after filing them down and putting topical treatments on, but no improvement there. How do you know when it is too much or even enough to do the trick?

  19. It’s clear doctors have no clue how to solve most nail fungus problems. There are many types of infection, and factors such as diet and imune system only complicate things.

    Visitors offer hundreds of remedies, but these folks are rearranging deck chairs on the Titantic, because very few are talking about the real problem — the nail itself, which is a physical barrier between any topical and the infection.

    Some medicines claim to penetrate the nail but they deliver an insignificant dosage to the fungus to have any noticable effect.

    If, like me, you are unwilling to take oral medicine owing to the unllikely but serious health risks, you MUST remove the part of the nail over the affected area and remove the junk below it on a weekly basis, then on a daily basis, apply a topical daily (home and over-the-counter). If one remedy doesn’t work, try another, and another. Expect no less than 3 months to clear it up.

    I removed most of the nail and junk with clippers and applied ciclopirox from eBay (1/10th the price of the prescription laquer), and not laquer based). Took 6 months to kill the fungus. Would have been easier to have used nail removal liquid from the start, but I didn’t know of it, but you can go get it now.

  20. I am about to go get laser treatment for the fungus. The podiatrist claims it kills anything living in the nail bed and that it’s very effective. I don’t know if I should believe him. Has anyone tried it?

  21. I have had an infected nail for over 6 years, nothing worked, tried terbinifen tablets, lacquers, Vicks, sprays, lotions teatree etc. I have recently been told its psoriasis under my nail, it is now going really fast, I am currently taking a large dose of vitamin D for other reasons, this seems to be working. May be worth a go if you have a stubborn infection like mine.

  22. I ve lived wit this infection over 7years ,ve tried many oral and topical drugs but none worked. Can somebody explain more about the magnifing glass.

  23. I concur with the sunlight & magnifying lens method. I’ve had nail fungus on one particular toenail for ten years. I’ve used an anti-fungal liquid on it and all my other toes nearly the whole time (I think the liquid has kept any of my other toes from being infected, which BTW is fantastic).

    Anyway, I began using the sunlight & magnifying lens method a year ago, when I began to feel uncomfortable pressure from the toenail thickening. The toenail was noticeably lighter and the pressure was reduced within the first week or two; so that is a distinct improvement. Although the toenail color has returned to normal I won’t say it’s cured yet since the nail is still thick. I’ll have to wait some more to see if it grows in thinner; however, I’m happy to maintain the status quo with the sunlight treatment & anti-fungal liquid.

    Incidentally, I feel I contracted the nail fungus from having a pedicure done at a salon. Now, In addition to putting the anti-fungal liquid on all of my toes whenever I get out of the shower, I ALWAYS put the anti-fungal liquid on as soon as I get home from having a pedicure done. My advice to anyone getting pedicures is to invest in a bottle of the liquid as a preventative.

  24. I had mild toenail fungus on my big toe. After pairing down the nail as far as I could, then using a file to grate the surface of the nail to thin it out, I applied tea tree oil two to three times a day. After about ten months it was gone, so I stopped using the tea tree oil, but now a year later its back, I guess I need to do maintenance to keep it away when its gone. I’m going to try the magnifying glass treatment in addition to using tea tree oil. Fungus hates sunlight.

  25. All these commercial treatments never work. Soak
    your feet in a bath of Hydrogen Peroxide, and in
    a few treatments your problems will be over.
    NOTHING is more effective.
    OH, and be sure you take MEGA DOSES of

  26. Thanks a lot lot! Good advices! Another good remedy is the use of special zederna cedarsoles in your shoes. They prevent you from getting nail fungus.

  27. I had an infection under one big toe (thanks nail salon lady) the nail cracked off to about half one September and I thought “Great, thats the end of that”. I was hoping that exposure to sunlight would keep it gone but by 4 months later it was not gone. I was considering the $1000 for laser but instead I took a large magnifying glass and treated it with concentrated light almost daily for a month and a half until I could see it growing out clear. I kept it up for another 2 weeks. The fungus is GONE %100. I AM SO HAPPY. I SAVED $1000. It is definitely easier than all the other treatments I have read you guys trying.

  28. The talk of laser treatments and sunlight/magnifying glass treatments brings to mind another device that is similar in that it uses RF frequency energy to radiate RF energy subcutaneously. It was invented over 100 years ago by Nikola Tesla and is called a “Violet Ray”. It was sold on the open market until the early 50s when the FDA outlawed it’s use because people were making outrageous claims for what it could and couldn’t do. Despite the fact it was effective for specific things they simply prohibited it’s use for anything. That’s government for you. However it remained legal outside the US and no disasters seem to have occurred. At worst it didn’t work for some ailments, perhaps in part because it was used improperly. However almost identical versions of the device are still made in the US for use by medical professionals, particularly dermatologists where it is used to remove warts, freckles and other skin discolorations. I have several antique devices and several of the devices made in England. (Using antique devices is risky as the electrical design is primitive and potentially dangerous). I have not used it for toenail fungus but in theory it should work as it is sort of an RF (radio frequency energy) variation on what lasers or even magnifying glasses do with penetrating irradiation that can disable if not outright kill living cells. I have used it on skin discolorations with some beneficial effect. Has anybody tried it on toenail fungus? Would be very interested in the result.

  29. Andreea New York says:

    I had problems with fungus. I solved it quickly with an ointment recommended by pharmacists from my neighborhood. I hope to never repeat, it is a terrible senator.

  30. What a relief to found this site. Thanks for shianrg this. Personally I’d rather go for natural or home remedies because I don’t want to take risk my liver by using oral medications

  31. fungal nightmare says:

    I want to try the magnifying glass with the sun. Does anyone know what strength magnifying glass should be?. What to do in the winter? Is there a light that can be used. ? I have tried oil of oregano, tea tree oil, vicks, and many over the counter treatments. Nothing works.

  32. Nail removal. If other treatments don’t work, or you’re in a lot of pain, your doctor may want to remove the infected nail.

  33. Dr. Jacob Moss, M.D says:

    People can treat fungal infections of the toenail with medication, but sometimes this can cause side effects.

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