Treatment options for Fungal Toenails

by | Oct 27, 2023

Fungal toenails, medically referred to as onychomycosis, can be a common and bothersome condition. But, you’ll be relieved that effective treatments are available to help you restore clear and healthy toenails. In this blog, we’ll explore fungal toenails, their causes, and various treatment options, from non-prescription remedies to advanced medical interventions.

What Are Fungal Toenails?

Fungal toenails, caused by various fungi such as dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds, thrive in warm, damp environments and can infect your toenails, resulting in symptoms like discoloration, thickness, brittleness, and unpleasant odors.

What Causes Fungal Toenails?

Several factors can contribute to fungal toenail infections:

Fungi Exposure: Places like swimming pools and gyms harbor fungi, making walking barefoot a potential risk.

Inadequate Foot Hygiene: Fungi thrive in warm, damp conditions. Neglecting proper foot hygiene can increase infection risk, especially for those who sweat excessively or wear tight shoes.

Footwear Choices: Non-breathable shoes or those that trap moisture create an ideal environment for fungi to thrive. Opt for breathable shoes and moisture-wicking socks.

Nail Trauma: Injuries or damage to the toenail can create openings for fungi to enter, whether through acute incidents or minor traumas over time.

Underlying Health Conditions: Certain medical conditions, like diabetes or a weakened immune system, increase susceptibility to fungal toenail infections due to poor circulation and decreased infection-fighting capabilities.

    Preparation for blood test

    Treatment Options

    The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the infection, your overall health, and your personal preferences. Here’s a closer look at available treatments:

    Non-Prescription Options

    Topical Antifungal Agents: Over-the-counter creams, ointments, and sprays with ingredients like clotrimazole or miconazole can be used for mild cases. Consistent application is key, and it may take several months to see results.

    Natural Remedies: Some individuals opt for home remedies like tea tree oil, vinegar soaks, or hydrogen peroxide for mild infections, but results can vary.

    Over-the-counter Nail Products: Certain over-the-counter solutions are designed for fungal toenails. These products typically combine antifungals with nail conditioners to enhance nail appearance.

    Prescription Polish and Creams

    Doctors may prescribe stronger antifungal nail lacquers or topical creams containing ingredients like ciclopirox for more severe infections. These medications are generally more effective than non-prescription options and are commonly used for mild to moderate cases.

    Prescription Medications

    Oral Antifungals: In moderate to severe cases, doctors may recommend oral medications like terbinafine or itraconazole. These drugs work from within to target the infection, but several months of treatment may be necessary. Regular liver function monitoring is usually required for those using oral antifungals.

    Antifungal Nail Solutions: In some instances, prescription-strength solutions are applied directly to the infected nail bed to combat the infection at its source. This approach can be highly effective for stubborn infections.

    Nail Removal

    In cases where the infection is particularly stubborn or painful, nail removal may be considered. This procedure involves removing the infected nail, allowing a new, healthy nail to grow in its place. Nail removal is typically a last resort when other treatments have proven ineffective.

    Laser Treatment

    Laser therapy is a promising and minimally invasive option. It involves using focused laser beams to heat and destroy the fungi causing the infection. Although not always covered by insurance, laser treatment can be highly effective and has a low risk of side effects. It’s often considered when other treatments haven’t been successful.

    Preventing Fungal Toenail Infections

    Prevention is key. To avoid fungal toenail infections, consider these preventive measures:

    Proper Foot Hygiene: Maintain clean and dry feet. Regularly wash and dry your feet, focusing on spaces between your toes to prevent moisture buildup.

    Footwear Choices: Opt for breathable, moisture-wicking socks and well-fitting shoes. Avoid sharing shoes and wearing those that trap moisture.

    Avoid Walking Barefoot: Use shower shoes in public areas, like pools or gyms, to reduce fungal exposure.

    Regular Nail Trimming: Keep your toenails short and straight across to prevent debris buildup and reduce the risk of injury.

    Foot Powders and Antifungal Sprays: These products keep your feet dry and free from excess moisture.

    Antifungal Products: If you’re at a higher risk for fungal toenail infections, consider using antifungal sprays or powders as a preventive measure.

    Treatment Complications

    While fungal toenail treatments are generally safe, some individuals may experience side effects or complications. Follow your doctor’s instructions and promptly report any adverse reactions. Common complications include skin irritation, liver enzyme abnormalities with oral medications, or pain from nail removal. Maintain open communication with our compassionate team throughout your treatment.

    Woman feet with soft pink manicure isolated on white background

    Schedule an Appointment for Healthy Toenails

    Don’t let fungal toenails disrupt your life. If you suspect or are currently dealing with a fungal toenail infection, seek professional help. Schedule an appointment with our experienced team today to discuss your treatment options and take the first step towards healthy, clear toenails. Treatment is available, and you don’t have to live with the discomfort and embarrassment of fungal toenails. With the right approach, you can enjoy the confidence and comfort of healthy feet. Don’t wait; take action now to regain your nail health and overall well-being.