Toenail fungus treatment

Fungal infections of the toenail can be rather unpleasant and painful. Since they can become serious without warning, it is important to get treatment as soon as you notice the first symptom: a yellow or white dot under the tip of the fingernail. Depending on the severity of the infection, the treatment may vary in length.

Everything You Need to Know About Toenail Fungal Infections
Fungi are very tiny, microscopic organisms that require no sunlight to survive; therefore, toenails are a prime environment for it to grow and multiply. The fungi infect one or more of your nails, most commonly toenails, and cause an infection. A special fungi, called dermatophytes, are usually responsible for the infection, but yeasts and molds can also be the culprit. The fungi desire warm, moist, and dark environments. Typically, they get in the nail bed through tiny invisible cuts or through a small separation in the nail bed and nail. Symptoms include: thickened nail, brittle nails, a nail that is distorted in shape, a dull-looking nail that has lost its shine, and a dark color.

Risk factors
The elderly are more susceptible to nail fungal infections for multiple reasons, including a less powerful blood circulation and the lifetime exposure to fungi.

  • Men are more often affected than women.
  • If a family member has had the infection, you will be more likely to get one too.
  • Perspiring heavily.
  • Working in a humid/moist environment.
  • Wearing socks and shoes that don’t allow any room for ventilation and/or don’t absorb sweat.
  • Walking barefoot in moist places, such as swimming pools and shower rooms.
  • Having any minor nail injury or an injury on the skin close to a nail.
  • Having circulation problems due to Diabetes.
  • Having a weakened immune system.


As mentioned above, toenail fungal infections can become very painful, very serious, and they can potentially leave permanent damage. Other infections can become secondary to a fungal infection if the patient was compromised before the infection, say with Diabetes or a weakened immune system.

Treating a Toenail Fungal Infection
Getting rid of a nail fungal infection is like trying to get rid of a stray dog that you fed dinner to one night: it doesn’t want to go away because of everything that you have to offer. In the case of the fungus, it doesn’t want to leave the nail environment because it is perfect for optimal growth. Fungal infections often times recur. It is possible to use over-the-counter treatments, such as antifungal nail creams and ointments, but they are not as effective as a treatment prescribed by a doctor.

  • Oral medications. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe an antifungal oral medication, especially for those with diabetes or a history of cellulitis, a dangerous bacterial skin infection. This type of medication allows a new nail to grow free of the infection, but it is a slow process to completely replace the infected nail. The treatment can last 6-12 weeks.
  • Antifungal lacquer. If the infection is only mild, the doctor will probably prescribe this antifungal nail polish called ciclopirox. It should be applied to the nail and any infected skin surrounding it, once a day. After seven straight days of applying it, wipe the layers clean with alcohol and repeat the process. Generally this is done for up to a year to clear an infection.
  • Topical medications. These typically don’t provide the cure, but they can offer some relief along with an oral medication. Sometimes, the doctor will file away the surface of the nail so the topical cream can be more effective.
  • Surgery.  If the infection is very serious, painful, and not going away, your doctor may opt for a surgery to remove the nail. It will eventually grow back, but may take up to a year.
  • Homemade remedies. People sometimes feel that prescribed or over-the-counter antifungal treatments are not effective, so they go for home remedies either in conjunction with or in place of the other treatments. There isn’t any scientific evidence backing them up, but people have claimed that they work just as well, if not better. Two popular ones are vinegar and Vicks VapoRub.
    • Vinegar. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes in a tub of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts warm water. Rinse well and dry when you’re finished.
    • Vicks VapoRub. There is no agreement to how often this should be applied or in what quantity, so speak with your doctor before doing this.
Last updated on Aug 21st, 2010 and filed under Other Conditions & Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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