There are several treatments available for a fungal nail infection, from doctor prescribed anti-fungal medications and over the counter pharmacy options through to simpler try at home remedies. Choosing the right treatment for you starts with becoming properly informed about your treatment choices.
Each treatment varies in effectiveness, treatment duration and side effects.
First, are you in an at-risk category?
Please use this article and other articles on this site to become informed, but you must always seek advice from a medical professional, especially if you’re in an at-risk category. You can find out more about the at-risk categories here.
Pharmacy treatment options for fungal nail infection
If you are not in an at-risk category, and you are otherwise healthy but you’ve discovered a the beginnings of a fungal nail infection, then talking to your pharmacist is a good first step.
Your pharmacist can advise you on the products they have available, and what treatments might be most effective for your case. They should also refer you to your doctor if they think your case requires it.
Pharmacy treatment options for for fungal nail infection can take a few treatment approaches.
The first and most common treatment approach are paint-on nail products that contain one or more anti fungal compounds. This might come in the form of a nail paint, or a pen.
A second treatment approach are the soften and scrape products. A chemical is applied to the infected area to soften the infected nail, which is then scraped away.
Another treatment approach for fungal nail infections are nail soak products, that require the nails to be soaked in a warm water solution along with the product.
Each of these treatment techniques requires repeated daily treatments for a number of weeks to months, but it is important to note that if a proper cleanliness regieme is not followed, then it is unlikely that any treatment for a fungal nail infection will be successful.
Fungal nail infections thrive in warm, wet environments, so sweaty socks and shoes are the enemy. In fighting the infection you must ensure that the affected nails are kept dry and clean. Avoid tight fitting shoes to let your feet breathe to avoid sweating. Changing socks should be done at least once per day, and you should let the affected nails in the air as much as possible.
Paint-On Nail Treatment Products
The paint-on nail products may contain natural ingredients like essential oils, or industrially produced chemical compounds. The affected nails should be kept clean and dry before application.
Some examples of these anti fungal compounds found in paint-on nail treatments include:
Some products are marketed as natural remedies and contain only natural ingredients and are marketed as so. In any case, it may be useful to know which anti-fungal is in the product you choose, since there if one treatment isn’t successful for you then a product with a different active ingredient might give better results.
Some of the best sellers in the paint-on nail treatment category include Funginix Finger and Toe Treatment, Arishine Fungus Treatment and Elobara Nail Fungus Repair. These products can be found in your local pharmacy or online.
Soften and Scrape Treatments
Soften and scrape treatments will have a high concentration of an ingredient like urea or other softening agent. Applied to the nail for a long period of time, say twelve hours, the user must then scape off the softened nail with an emery board or similar tool.
When you file down the nail, this allows the anti-fungal ingredient to penetrate the nail down to the bed where the fungus normally resides. But be careful not to file down too much, you want to avoid damaging the nail bed.
This process is repeated over a long period from weeks to months, in order to remove the infected nail and let a new nail regrow.
Try-at-home remedies for fungal nail infection
Daily Vinegar Soak
Vinegar has anti-fungal properties and soaking infected nails in a warm water and vinegar solution daily for twenty minutes, coupled with a proper hygiene regime may be enough to treat mild fungal nail infections.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is generally regarded as the best essential oil for fungal nail infections.
Tea tree oil has anti-fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and several over the counter treatments will include tea tree oil as the main active ingredient in the product.
In its pure form, tea tree oil very potent, and so it should not be directly applied to the skin, or the infected nail. Instead, it should be diluted with a carrier oil before applying to the skin. There are lots of essential oil guides online if you’re interested in this approach. Please note that essential oils should not be taken orally.
That’s right, Vicks VapoRub is a low cost treatment for a fungal nail infection. This well-known product contains levomenthol, eucalyptus oil, camphor and turpentine (pine tree oil). The eucalyptus oil ingredient has anti-fungal properties, so there may be some truth to the effectiveness of Vicks to treat fungal nail!
Doctor Prescribed medications for fungal nail infection
Your doctor may prescribe a paint-on nail treatment for fungal nail infection for non serious cases of fungal nail infection. For more serious or stubborn infections and depending on other attributes of your health, he may discuss with you and opt for one of the treatments described below.
A doctor may prescribe an oral medication to treat a fungal infection. This may be the quickest way to remedy the problem, results can be seen in six to twelve weeks, but oral medication can come with side effects, including liver damage.
As such, you may require a blood test to ensure there are no problems with your liver before this form of treatment can commence.
Fungal Nail Laser Treatment Therapy
Laser treatment is an option and has up until recently been quite expensive. There are at home laser units you can pick up specifically for elimination of fungal nail infections and they retail at very modest prices.
Nail Removal Surgery
Removal surgery is a last resort, and may be recommended by your doctor if you’ve tried other treatments before and had no success. Your doctor may also follow this course if you have other health complications that could be exacerbated by the fungal nail infection.
This is a minor surgery normally performed at the doctor’s office, so there’s no need for a trip to the hospital. Removal or partial removal of the affected nails will be performed under local anesthetic, so it won’t be painful.