Fungal infections are often hard to treat as it takes time to get rid of them completely. Onychomycosis, commonly referred to as nail fungus – is a form of fungal disease that infects the toenails. The disease generally begins as a yellow or white spot under your fingernail/ toenail which gradually grows and causes the nails to become brittle, ragged, crumbly, and thickened. Some of the common symptoms of onychomycosis include yellow-brownish discolored nails, nails that are distorted in shape, and slightly foul-smelling nails. Nail fungus treatment includes medicated creams, ointments, nail polish, antifungal oral medications, or nail removal.
The thing about onychomycosis is that even if it’s not hurting you now, it won’t go away easily and if you do not treat it, it’ll grow worse! Hence, if and when you get diagnosed with a nail fungal infection, you shouldn’t waste any time and start with the appropriate nail fungus treatment. While there are multiple oral antifungal drugs prescribed for nail fungus treatment, various ointments and nail polishes are also known to get rid of fingernail fungus. In addition to this, there are numerous home remedies for nail fungus that have proven beneficial for many patients.
What causes nail fungus?
The disease-causing microbe behind onychomycosis is a type of fungi called dermatophyte. Molds and yeasts are also types of fungi that are known to cause nail fungus in humans. Certain risk factors are also known to increase the chances of getting onychomycosis in people –
- Heavy sweating.
- Old age – With a reduced blood flow and slower nail growth, people in their old age are more exposed to the fungi.
- Athlete’s foot history.
- Having an underlying skin infection or injury such as psoriasis.
- Exposing your feet to damp communal areas like shower rooms, swimming pools, walking barefoot in a public park, and gym.
- A weak immune system also contributes to the disease which is generally found among people suffering from diabetes.
How to get rid of nail fungus?
Once your doctor confirms that you are infected by fingernail fungus and have been diagnosed with onychomycosis from your nail clipping samples, he/ she will educate you with multiple nail fungus treatment options. The treatment options for treating white toenail fungus/ black toenail fungus are mentioned below –
Nail fungus medicine –
One of the most commonly used nail fungus treatment options and also one of the most effective ones is to take prescribed medication. These can be oral medications or skin applicants depending upon your doctor’s prescription and your nail fungus condition.
- Antifungal oral drugs – Antifungal drugs such as Itraconazole and Terbinafine are chosen as the best nail fungus treatment option. These drugs enhance the growth of a new infection-free fingernail/toenail by slowly replacing the infected nail. The dosage of the drug is as prescribed by your doctor which would be continued for about 12 weeks. Some side-effects associated with such oral antifungal medicines include liver damage or skin rashes.
- Anti-fungal nail cream – An anti-fungal cream or ointment may also be prescribed which is to be applied regularly on the infected nail area after soaking them. These creams work better if you thin your nail first which can either be debrided by your doctor or with the help of certain lotions containing urea. By thinning the nail coat, the cream has easy access to reach beneath the nail as well.
- Anti-fungal nail polish – Ciclopirox/ Penlac is an antifungal nail polish that your doctor might prescribe to get rid of your fingernail fungus. These nail polishes are to be applied to the infected nail and its surrounding areas daily. The peeled-off layers shall be cleaned daily with alcohol and a fresh coat of nail polish should be applied again.
Laser treatment –
Laser treatments can help stop the spreading of fungal infection from one nail to another and are also known to help reduce the pain to an extent. Your doctor might prescribe laser treatment for your nail fungal infection which might be continued for several months depending upon its performance.
- Nail removal/ surgery –
Some fungal nail infections are harder to treat and may not respond to the prescribed medication. In such a case, your doctor might suggest surgery to temporarily remove your infected nail and give the antifungal medicine directly under the nail’s surface – on site of the infection. It is also considered to be one of the best nail fungus treatments because it removes the infected piece completely and reduces the chances of it coming back. So if you are suffering from nail fungus for a long time and no nail fungus medicine has proven to be beneficial for you, making you wonder how to treat nail fungus now? Surgery is the right answer for you!
Home remedies for nail fungus –
While it is advisable for you to take prescribed medication for your nail fungus, there are certain home remedies for nail fungus that can help you get rid of it. It is essential for you to note that while these home remedies might help you reduce the effects and symptoms of nail fungus, they are not to be completely relied upon. One must certainly seek professional medical guidance and treatment on how to get rid of nail fungus.
You might have also come across products claiming “one cup of this will destroy your nail fungus” and “unbelievably easy ways of how to get rid of nail fungus”. As tempting as they sound, they are false! Fungal infections are hard to treat and so far there is no scientifically proven remedy that can cure your nail fungus with just a cup!
Several home remedy solutions offer you great ways on how to treat nail fungus organically which mainly boosts your immune system, enhances your nail growth, and helps get rid of some of the symptoms of nail fungus.
- Coconut oil – Something so simple and common! Coconut oil can be found in almost every household. Since this essential oil has antioxidant properties, it helps soothe the pain and discomfort and its excellent antifungal and antibacterial properties help destroy the fungus over time. If the Coconut oil is applied regularly to the infected area and its surrounding regions it can help moisturize the skin and nail as well.
- Tea tree oil – One of the best nail fungus treatment essential oils – the tea tree oil has extraordinary anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that help destroy the fungal species and also boost the immune system which helps in the overall treatment of fingernail fungus. For better results, tea tree oil is often mixed with coconut and olive oil which ensures deep absorption by the nail bed.
- Apple cider vinegar – A useful antifungal agent – Apple Cider Vinegar which again, can be found in your kitchen cabinet! Add half ACV solution to half bucket/tub of water and soak your feet in it for 30 minutes and then dry them out properly. Repeat this thrice a day for several months and you will be able to help reduce the effects of nail fungus and might also stop it from recurring in the future!
- Lemon juice – The citric acid in lemon juice acts as a highly effective antifungal agent to treat your nail fungus at home. Apply the lemon juice to the infected area and soak your feet in it for about 30 minutes. Make sure you do not use it more than twice a day since it contains acid and can be harmful to your skin too. Dry your feet afterward and repeat it for a few months.
- Olive oil – Olive oil is like an all-rounder when it comes to its medicinal properties. It also has antifungal properties which can help you destroy the fungus. For better and faster results, you can combine it with lemon juice or coconut oil.
Nail fungus prevention –
As the saying goes – ‘prevention is better than cure’, it is always to stay safe and healthy to avoid getting infected by any microbial disease. To prevent yourself from getting infected by nail fungus, you should try to follow these preventive strategies –
- Make sure you change your socks and shoes daily.
- Clean your footwear regularly to get rid of dust, dirt, and sweat.
- Maintain clean and dry feet always.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public dampen areas, always wear shoes.
- Do not wear shoes that are too tight and have no space for them to breathe.
- Trim your nails short and clean them regularly to avoid dirt accumulation.
- Treat your regular footwear with antifungal and antibacterial powder.
- Do not use artificial nails.