Best treatments for nail fungus

Best treatments for nail fungus

Nail fungus infection is a common problem that starts as a yellow or white spot under the tip of a toenail or fingernail. As the infection spreads, it may cause discolouration, thickening and crumbling at the edge of the nail. You can have nail fungus in more than one nail. If you have a mild nail fungus infection, there may not be a need for treatment. However, if the fungus causes pain and thickened nails, you may have to apply self-care tips by adopting the best home treatment for nail fungus.

What Causes Nail Fungus?

Fungal nail infections stem from the overgrowth of fungi on, under, or in the nail. Fungi flourish in warm and moist environments; therefore, this type of condition can make them overpopulate naturally.

If you already have fungi on or in your body, the same fungi can affect your nails. Also, it is essential to note that nail fungus is infectious. So, if you contact a person with the infection, there is a higher chance of you contracting it as well. It is more common to have nail fungus on toenails than fingernails. This is because the toes are usually enclosed in shoes, creating a warm and moist environment, which is ideal for fungus growth.

When getting a pedicure or manicure at a nail salon, enquire how they disinfect their tools. This is to avoid getting the fungus. Salon tools such as nail clippers can spread fungal infections if not properly sanitized.

Risk Factors for Nail Fungus Infection

There are several causes of nail fungus. Each cause is treated with the best treatment for nail fungus that best suits it. Although most of the causes of nail fungus can be prevented, some risk factors put you at a greater risk of contracting the fungus.

You have a higher risk of developing nail fungus if you:
• Are more than 65 years old
• Are diabetic
• Wear artificial nails
• Have nail injury
• Have an ailment causing poor circulation
• Use a public swimming pool
• Have a weak immune system
• Have an injury near the nail
• Have moist toes or fingers for prolonged periods
• Wear closed shoes for too long, such as boots or tennis shoes

Men suffer more from fungal nail infections than women, with most infections being found in adults. If a family member often gets fungal infections, you will likely get one as well. Adults over 65 develop more fungal nail infections as they have poor circulation. Their nails also thicken and grow more slowly as they age.

Types of Nail Fungus

Candida Infection

Candida yeasts cause this type of nail infection. It can affect nails previously damaged by an injury or infection. Candida primarily affects fingernails and is common in people whose hands are always in the water. The infection starts on the cuticle near the nail, which gets red, swollen, and tender. The nail can partially detach from the nail bed or entirely fall off.

Proximal Subungual Infection

Although this is an uncommon type of fungal nail infection, it can affect both toenails and fingernails. The infection appears as yellow spots at the nail base and then spreads upwards. The infection usually occurs in people with weakened immune systems.

White Superficial Infection

These are infections that affect toenails typically. The fungus attacks the nail’s top layers and creates distinct white spots on the affected nail. The white spots eventually spread to cover the whole nail, making it soft, rough, and prone to disintegrating. The white spots may also become flaky and pitted.

Distal Subungal Infection

This is the most common type of nail fungus, affecting both toenails and fingernails. A nail with distal subungual infection has a jagged appearance on its outer edge with yellow and/or white streaks across it. The infection affects the nail’s underside and the nail bed.

What is the Best Treatment for Nail Fungus?

Nail fungus can be challenging to treat. Treatment for fungal infections depends on the type of fungus and the severity of the infection. It may sometimes take months to witness any results and despite your nail condition improving, it is common to have repeat infections.


You may receive antifungal medication for oral use or topical application. In some instances, combining both oral and topical antifungal medication is helpful.

Oral Antifungal Medication

This is the first treatment option as it clears the infection faster than topical drugs. Common drugs include itraconazole (Sporanox) and terbinafine (Lamisil), which aid in the growth of a new nail free of infection to replace the infected section.

Oral antifungal medication dosage runs for 6-12 weeks. However, the result is evident when the nail grows back. An infection can take at least four months to be eliminated. Adults over 65 have lower success rates of treatment. These drugs may have side effects such as liver damage and skin rash. When taken for a prolonged period, take a blood test occasionally to see if they affect your blood. People with congestive heart failure or liver disease should not take oral antifungal drugs.

Topical Application Antifungal Medication

One of the best treatments for toenail fungus is medicated nail polish. This is an option your doctor may suggest for a nail polish known as ciclopirox (Penlac). You must apply the nail polish on the infected nail and surrounding skin once daily. Do not wipe away the previous day’s layer; wait for them to pile up for seven days and then clean with alcohol and start again for another seven days. You may be required to apply nail polish for almost one year.

The other best topical treatment for nail fungus is medicated nail cream, which is rubbed into the affected nail after soaking. The medication creams work better with thin nails, so you can thin the nails before applying the cream. Thinning the nails helps the absorption of the medication through the rigid nail surface to reach the fungus beneath it. Nail thinning is done by applying a non-prescription lotion that contains urea. Alternatively, your doctor may debride the bail with a file or another suitable tool.

Which Is the Best Home Treatment for Nail Fungus?

The best topical treatment for nail fungus can clear the infection but do not entirely cure the infection. There are other remedies that you can use at home, and they have been proven to have positive clinical effects in nail fungal infection. They include:

• Ozonized Oils. Sunflower oil and olive oil are excellent examples of oils infused with gases like those in the ozone layer. Studies have confirmed the benefits of ozonized oils in treating nail fungus.

• Oregano Oil. This type of oil contains thymol, a substance said to contain antifungal properties. Sometimes, oregano oil is administered together with tea tree oil in nail fungal treatment. But, the side effects can be severe, and a combination of the two oils increases the possibility of irritation or an allergic reaction.

• Vicks VapoRub. Although this drug is designed for cough suppression, it is one of the best treatments for toenail fungus. It contains eucalyptus oil and camphor as its active ingredients, antifungal properties. Vicks VapoRub is applied topically on the affected area once a day.

• Olive Leaf Extract. Olive leaf extract has an active substance, oleuropein, which contains immune-boosting, antimicrobial, and antifungal abilities. Olive leaf salve can be ingested in capsule form or applied directly to the affected nail. The capsules are more effective in treating toenail fungus when taken with meals. Take one to three capsules twice daily and ensure that you drink a lot of water when taking the capsules.

• Snakeroot Extract. This natural antifungal plant has the same effects as the prescription antifungal treatment, ciclopirox, in treating nail fungus.

• Listerine Mouthwash. Eucalyptus, thymol, and menthol are all ingredients in Listerine mouthwash. These ingredients have antifungal and antibacterial properties, making mouthwash a popular therapy for toenail fungus. Soak the affected foot for 30 minutes daily in amber-coloured Listerine.

How Can I Prevent Nail Fungus Infections?

The following tips will help in reducing the risk of developing nail fungus.
• Avoid walking barefoot in public locker rooms, showers, swimming pools; use shower shoes to protect your feet.
• Keep your feet and hands clean and dry at all times.
• Clip your nails and do not share scissors or nail clippers
• Wear shoes that fit well with clean cotton socks
• Do not share socks or towels, and wash your towels regularly and hang them outside to dry properly.
• Replace footwear that could have fungal contamination
• Treat athlete’s foot immediately you notice it to avoid it spreading to your nails.
• Ensure that salon equipment is appropriately cleaned and sterilized before using it as it is a common source of nail fungus.

Final Thoughts

Home remedies may produce better results than prescription medication in treating mild to moderate nail fungus. The best treatments for nail fungus at home have fewer side effects. Several factors are at play when looking for the best treatment for toenail fungi, such as infection severity, nail penetrability, and general health. Once the infection has cleared, keep your nails clean, dry, and well-trimmed. Critical cases of nail fungus can be painful with a possibility of irreversible nail damage. If your home remedies are ineffective in eradicating the infection or have side effects, see your doctor.

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