Toe and nail fungus can do a number on your finger and toe nails. Those yucky microorganisms are responsible for turning your beautiful nails into something ugly, repulsive and disgusting. We hate them as much as you do too.
Unfortunately, many people who suffer from the condition don’t even know that they have the condition. And when they do, not many know what to do about it. Then, there’s the other issue of lots of false information being peddled all over the internet.
We have done our best to compile the best proven treatment methods and information about nail fungus infection and treatment. This way, you can make an accurate and informed decision on the most effective and best nail fungus treatment solutions for you.
The odds of having nail fungus infections often increases with age. This is partly –there are other factors involved too- why it is mostly experienced by adults. It is estimated that one in two senior citizens have the fungus, while one in two individuals who visit their dermatologists do so because of fungal infections.
Also, toenail fungal infections are more common than fingernail fungus infections because these fungi often need dark, warm places to thrive. Shoes worn for longer periods tend to be dark, moist, and warm –the perfect environment for the fungus. Toe and nail fungus infections are often more common in men than women. This makes sense because men tend to wear their shoes for longer than women do.
If you’re reading this, chances are you already have it or know a loved one that does and want to get the best possible treatment. This toe and nail fungus treatment guide is meant to point you to the best treatment options that are available to you. In this guide, we’ll be examining:
- Risk factors and predisposition
- Orthodox treatment methods
- Over the counter medications and creams for treating fungal nail infections
- Cosmetic treatment options
- Systemic treatment protocols
- Surgery treatment solutions
- Laser treatment solution
- Herbal remedies and tonics
- Lifestyle changes to help prevent a recurrence
- Expectations after treatment
- Possible side effects of the treatment(s)
- Active preventive measures
Causes, Risk Factors And Predisposition To Nail Fungus Infections
Apart from the aforementioned risk factors –age and sex of the individual- there are also other factors that could cause toe and nail fungus infections. For starters, people suffering from diabetes are at higher risk of infection, with one in three diabetics having the infection.
It is also more common among male diabetics than female diabetic patients–there are reports of a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio in favor of the men. The same goes for ulcer patients, those who have ingrown toenails, are immunocompromised or have a weak immune system, and those with skin conditions.
Athletes too are often at risk because they wear tight fitting shoes for longer and sweat a lot from their workouts. People who have poor circulation are often at risk of the infection as well those who have injured, untreated nails or have undergone nail surgery. Also, swimming pools, warm springs, saunas, and spas are good breeding grounds for the fungus.
So, walking around barefooted in these public places means that there’s an increased risk of picking up the fungus. Once you do that, all you need to do is create the enabling environment for them, and you’ll have a festering infection.
People who are also careless about their foot hygiene will create a habitable environment for the fungus. A good example of poor foot hygiene is not drying your feet properly before putting on your socks and shoes. We understand that you may be in a rush sometimes and may not have time for all that. That’s okay. Just make sure it doesn’t happen frequently.
Medical and Orthodox Nail Fungus Treatment Methods
For many, the first port of call for nail fungus treatment is the podiatrist. To determine if you actually nail fungus infection, they’ll take samples to test for the fungus. Once confirmed, your podiatrist will offer you one or more of the three treatment options below:
1. Laser Treatment for Nail Fungus
The latest method of treating nail fungus infection, this involves using laser machines to kill off the fungus underneath your nails. This method boasts of an 80 percent success rate among patients who have tried it.
Patients often have to go for about three sessions to start seeing some real improvements. It is a painless treatment options that has no side effects.
Before recommending laser treatment for your nail fungus, your podiatrist will have to determine if you need it in the first place. This is mostly used for severe or prolonged fungal infection.
If you want the best results, you may have to repeat the treatment after a 90 and 180 day interval. Please note that while laser treatment for nail fungus does help kill off the fungus, the truth is that you may not have better looking toe and finger nails.
Studies show that you have a 50-65 percent chance of having a toenail that looks less gross and a 15 percent chance of having clear toenails or fingernails. The good news is that your nails can grow back within 6-12 months -6 for the small toenails and 12 for the big toes.
All fingers and toes will be exposed to the rays to help prevent reinfection. This is important because once you have an infected finger or toe, chances are that the fungus would have spread to all the others.
2. Systemic Nail Fungus Treatment Solutions
This usually combines the use of various medications to combat the nail fungus. A major part of this is the use of oral medications for treating nail fungus infections. The most popular and common oral treatment for nail fungus infection is the use of oral terbinafine.
Terbinafine has proven effective against nail fungus and has a 38 percent chance of restoring your nails to its normal clear color. It is therefore, the first oral treatment method for nail fungus of all kinds.
Patients who have used this have reportedly stayed fungus free, 90 days after completing their dosages. As with all meds, this has its downsides. For instance, children cannot take this medication as it’s not licensed for their usage (thankfully, there are little or no children with nail fungus).
There’s also the risk of liver damage as well severe skin reactions. Please note that these are very few and far in between. So, there’s no real danger. Your podiatrist will examine you for all possible risk factors before placing you on Terbinafine. People on cimetidine and rifampicin drugs might want to tell their doctor about that during your appointment.
The second commonly prescribed oral medication for nail fungus is Itraconazole. This belongs to the group of drugs called Azoles and is particularly effective against the Candida species of fungus.
The success rates for Itraconazole is similar to Terbinafine. The aforementioned two oral medications help the nail grow faster, thus pushing out the infected parts of the nail.
However, this has to be prescribed and followed to the letter because of its potential for liver toxicity. This is why it is not a drug to be used for a prolonged period of time. Patients are advised to take this for one week out every month for the duration of their treatment. Please speak to your doctor about this.
Apart from liver toxicity, pregnant women can’t take this and can interfere with a broad range of drugs. Your doctor will often ask you about the usage of these drugs before prescribing Itraconazole.
The third, less popular oral medication is Griseofulvin. This is only effective against mild nail fungus infections, hence the reason it is often prescribed for kids and adults. While its tolerance is pretty high, it’s not as effective as the first two. Patients on this drug have often experienced higher rates if fungal infection recurrence.
3. Home Remedies, Supplements and Over the Counter Medications for Treating Nail Fungus
There are many topical and over the counter treatment options for nail fungus. Some of these include Zetaclear, Jublia, Kerydin and Penlac, to mention a few. These are sought after by patients who want to get the best results faster or want to avoid taking the oral medications.
The best approach to killing off all nail fungus is usually through a complete, synergistic treatment combining internal and external medications. This is why most podiatrists will recommend oral medications and the application of topical or liquid antifungal ointments, creams and oils to the external part of their nails.
The goal is to ensure that the over the counter topical antifungal creams and oils help alleviate the symptoms, while the pills act to suppress the growth and proliferation of the yeast.
Please note that applying topical creams alone aren’t as effective –has an 8-20 percent success rate. Natural home remedies such as Epsom salt vinegar, tea tree oil and coconut oil or cream are said to be effective against the fungus and accelerates your nails’ healing.
4. Surgery Nail Fungus Treatment Method
This is typically used when the fungal infection is far gone, other aforementioned treatment solutions have proven ineffective or combined with oral treatments. The process of removing the infected nail plates is often called nail avulsion, and can help drastically reduce the duration of your treatment.
Removing the nails is often a drastic measure, but is often needed when it is clear that it can help the patient get better quickly. This is an important point to take note of seeing as nail fungus treatments can sometimes last up to one year.
Expectations After Nail Fungus Treatment
Depending on how far the infection has gone, odds are that you might need to alter your expectations a bit. Many people just assume that treatment means that their nails will grow and appear normal again. This isn’t often the case.
For many patients that may not happen, so the damage may be permanent –even after the fungal infection is completely gone. The lucky few who are able to regrow their nails may be unable to get it back to the regular color. And when they are able to do so, it can take as long as a year or two to get the color.
What to Do to Prevent Nail Fungus Recurrence
This is important because it’s the key to keeping your toes and finger nails fungus-free for as long as possible.
However, because many people still have to wear shoes to work, it is often easy to experience another episode –this is why statistics point to a 40-50 percent recurrence rate- and suffer through another prolonged period of treatment. The best thing to do therefore, is to do everything possible to discourage the growth of the fungus in your shoes.
- So, make sure to wear your socks just once a week (you might want to get about 14 pairs of cotton based, light socks).
- Wash thoroughly and dry it properly in the dryer or out in the sun after each use and store in an airy, dry place with no dampness.
- As for your shoes, let them get some sun. Spread them out in the sun for hours any chance you get.
- When you get to the office, pull off your shoes and let the legs breathe.
- When you get home too, wash your legs properly with soap and warm water, dry properly, apply some medicated dusting powder to your feet and let your legs breathe.
- Avoid covered slippers for now at home.
- You should also apply dusting powder to your feet every day before wearing your shoes. This not only helps prevent the bad stench of “feet”, it also keeps the shoes dry and free of moisture.
- Also, make sure to wear some slippers in locker rooms, gyms, communal baths, saunas, spas, and the area around the pool. This will protect you from picking up the fungus, which can be abundant around such areas.
Extra Tips for Foot Fungus Treatment
Now, most podiatrists or doctors probably wouldn’t give you the advice we’re about to give you now. But, from experience and success rates, these tip will go a long way in helping you fight and/or prevent nail fungus infections.
- Cut back on your sugar intake. Most people don’t know this, but fungi tend to thrive in an environment with loads of sugar. So, the more sugar you consume, the higher their chances of increasing in population. So, reduce your sugar intake. Cut back from taking soda, raw sugars, maple syrup and even honey. If you must get your sugar fix, try stevia or just sweet fruits.
- Soak your feet once a week in a bowl filled with water and baking soda. Fungi cannot thrive in alkaline environments. So, add 2-3 teaspoonfuls of baking soda to about half a liter to one liter of water, stir until the baking soda is dissolved and then put your legs in the bowl. Do that for 15-30 minutes once a week. If you already have the fungus, do this 3-4 times weekly for accelerated healing.
There you have it… everything you need to know about effectively treating nail fungus infections. If you follow the steps, tips and suggestions outlined in this guide, you will experience great success in getting rid of your nail fungus infection.