Best Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus
A variety of treatment options for toenail fungus are available, including drug-free alternatives, over-the-counter medicine, prescription drugs, laser treatment, or even surgical removal for those severe cases. Many people would rather start with items they have around the house before purchasing medication or visiting their doctors office. These treatments are most effective in mild fungal cases.
Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes when it comes to treating nail fungus. This is because a new toenail must grow to replace the old, damaged toenail. This can take up to 18 months to regrow the toenail. This time frame varies on how fast or slow your toenails grow and how severe the fungal infection is. Many home remedies quickly improve the appearance of the nail, but the actual fungus is not gone until the new, healthy nail has replaced the old, damaged one.
Try some of these effective home remedies for toenail fungus:
Stop This Skin Infection In Its Tracks With These Over
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Verywell Health / Sabrina Jiang
Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. But if left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes.
The fungus often begins in the form of athletes foot between the toes or on the soles of the feet. At this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medication. But Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, told Verywell Health toenail fungus can be difficult to treat because of how slow the nails grow. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies, she says.
Diagnosing the fungal infection early is key to make treatments effective. Dr. Lipner recommends visiting a board-certified dermatologist to properly treat the infection if it grows to be too severe.
Here are a few of the best over-the-counter toenail fungus treatments on the market.
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Tips To Prevent Fungal Nail Infections
Making a few simple lifestyle changes can help prevent a fungal infection of the nails. Taking good care of your nails by keeping them well trimmed and clean is a good way to prevent infections.
Also avoid injuring the skin around your nails. If youre going to have damp or wet hands for an extended amount of time, you may want to wear rubber gloves.
Other ways to prevent fungal infections of the nails include:
- washing your hands after touching infected nails
- drying your feet well after showering, especially between your toes
- getting manicures or pedicures from trustworthy salons
- avoiding being barefoot in public places
- reducing your use of artificial nails and nail polish
Products to help you avoid nail fungus
If youre prone to excessive moisture around your fingernails or toenails, consider buying:
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How To Prevent Both Foot And Toenail Fungus
While toenail fungus and foot fungus arent the same condition, the following tips can help you prevent both, says Sundling:
- Practice good hygiene, such as keeping your feet clean.
- Alternate your shoes during the week. Your feet sweat all day long. Alternating your shoes allows them to dry out, so the fungus cant survive.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks that help dry out shoes and kill fungus. You can find these at running stores and athletic stores. If your socks are exceptionally sweaty, changing them more than once per day can help.
- Wear shoes in public places like locker rooms, pools, and gyms to limit exposure to fungus.
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Best Ways To Treat A Nail Fungus
Nail fungus can cause thick, discolored nails, and, for some patients, it can even be painful. An Internet search will bring up plenty of ways to treat the condition, but which ones are best? Dermatologist Dr. Christopher Hull discusses what nail fungus actually is, why its so hard to get rid of, and which treatments work best.
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What Is Tinea Unguium
When a dermatophyte causes toenail fungus, the condition is called tinea unguium. A dermatophyte is a mold that needs a protein called keratin to grow. Keratin is the main structural material of your nails that makes them hard. Dermatophytes cause 90% of toenail fungal infections. Tinea unguium is also known as onychomycosis.
How Long Does It Take For Toenail Fungus To Go Away
Toenail infection is an infectious disease of nails. It is caused by a fungus that requires a warm moist environment to grow and flourish. Low immunity, minor skin or nail injury, diabetes or athletes foot might promote its growth. It makes the nail yellow, thick and brittle. If the infection goes deep in the nail bed, its treatment becomes more difficult. It does not go away on its own without treatment.
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When To See A Medical Provider
If youve recently tried a home remedy for your toenail fungus but have not noticed an improvement in your symptoms, reach out to your medical provider for help.
Additional symptoms that warrant more immediate medical attention are:
- A fungal infection that doesnt go away or improve
- Toenails that are painful to touch, red, or drain pus
What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Nail Fungus
With treatment, many people can get rid of nail fungus. Even when the fungus clears, your nail may look unhealthy until the infected nail grows out. A fingernail grows out in 4 to 6 months and a toenail in 12 to 18 months.
To clear the fungus, its important to:
Use the treatment exactly as prescribed
Apply the medicine for as long as prescribed
Keep all follow-up appointments with your dermatologist
Nail fungus can be stubborn. If you had a severe infection, its possible to clear the infection. A healthy looking nail, however, may be unrealistic, but you can expect the nail to look better and feel more comfortable.
Even with clearing, nail fungus can return. Youll find steps to reduce your risk in Tips: 12 ways to prevent another nail infection.
ReferenceGold LFS and Rosen T. Onychomycosis: Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies. Dermatology News . March 2016:2-15.
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What Causes Tinea Unguium
A type of mold called a dermatophyte causes tinea unguium. Dermatophytes are fungal microorganisms . They feed off of keratin, a protein found in your fingernails and toenails. Keratin makes nails hard.
Dermatophytes are the cause behind 90% of toenail fungal infections. But other types of fungi can infect your toenails as well.
How To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus Fast
Toenail fungus is an infection that gets in through cracks in your nail or cuts in your skin. It can make your toenail change color or get thicker. It can also be painful. Foot fungus likes to grow in warm, wet places.
Thats why it often affects your toenails. The good news is that toenail fungus is easy to treat. You can usually take care of it yourself. First, try one of these home remedies:Soak your feet for minutes a day in a mixture of part vinegar to parts water.
Put tea tree oil on your toenails twice a day. Place garlic cloves on your toenails for minutes at a time. But dont stop there. To prevent the fungus from coming back, you need to keep your feet dry and clean.
Here are some tips:Wear shoes that fit well and arent too tight. Wear socks that are made of natural fibers, like cotton. Change your socks every day, and dont wear the same pair two days in a row. When youre at the pool or gym, wear shower shoes or sandals.
Dont share towels, shoes, or other personal items with someone who has a fungus infection.
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Foot Hygiene For Lasting Results
Using medications or procedures can vastly improve the appearance of your toenails if you have a fungal infection. However, for lasting results, you need to step up your foot hygiene habits. Remember, there is always a chance of reinfection because the fungus is present everywhere in the environment.
Here are some suggestions:
- Be nicer to your feet by wearing comfortable well-fitting shoes. Dispose of your oldest footwear and use an antifungal power in other footwear.
- Keep your feet clean and dry with daily washing with soap and thorough drying with a clean towel. Wear cotton socks, or none at all if youre in a warm, humid climate.
- Keep your toenails trimmed and regularly disinfect all tools you use to cut, file, or otherwise attend to your feet.
- Never share your footwear with others and wear something on your feet whenever you go to a swimming pool, gym, or another warm place where people walk around barefoot.
Sets With Creams And A Nail Scraper
Treatment sets that contain two creams and a nail scraper can also be used for the topical treatment of nail fungus:
- One cream has urea in it, which softens the nail so it can be removed.
- The other cream contains bifonazole, which has an antifungal effect.
For this treatment, the affected toe or finger first has to be soaked in warm water for ten minutes and then dried. After that, the urea-based cream is applied to the nail, and the nail is covered with an adhesive bandage. After 24 hours, the bandage is removed and the toe or finger is held in warm water again. The softened layer of the nail is then scraped off using a spatula, the cream is applied again and the nail is covered with a new bandage. This treatment is carried out over 14 days. Once the infected part of the nail has been scraped away completely, the skin beneath is treated for another four weeks with a bifonazole cream.
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What Can You Do To Help Prevent Fungal Nail
Maintain good foot hygiene and check and trim your nails on a regular basis. Nails should be cut or filed straight across . Always make sure your nail clippers are disinfected
Look out for athletes foot in the skin between the toes and treat with an antifungal cream as it can soon spread to the nails
Wear shoes that fit well and have enough space to allow your feet to breathe a little this reduces the possibility of warm, moist environments where the fungi can breed
Throw out old shoes, especially trainers
Wear cotton socks and change them regularly
Dont share your towels and socks with other people
Avoid walking around barefoot in public spaces wear flip flops or sandals around the pool or in public changing rooms and showers
Dont use the same nail accessories or tools on your infected nail as the nails which are clear
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How Is Toenail Fungus Treated
Toenail fungus is notoriously tricky to treat. You may need to treat tinea unguium for several months to get rid of the fungus. Still, toenail fungus often comes back.
A skin specialist or foot doctor can explain your treatment options. If you have a mild case that doesnt bother you, your healthcare provider may recommend no treatment.
Tinea unguium treatment options include:
Oral antifungal medication
You can take a prescribed oral antifungal medication to treat the fungus. Options include terbinafine , itraconazole or fluconazole . Youll need to take the medication every day for several months . Your healthcare provider may use blood tests to check for potential medication side effects. These medications can affect your liver and interact with other medications, so oral antifungals arent for everyone.
You can regularly apply a topical medication right onto your nail. The medication treats the fungus over time. Topical medications are most effective when paired with oral medications.
Your healthcare provider will direct a high-tech laser beam and special lights at your toenail to treat the fungus. Lasers are U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for temporary increase of clear nail in nail fungus, but theyre not a cure. Cure rates for laser treatment are lower than oral and topical mediations. Your healthcare provider wont typically use lasers as first-line treatments for nail fungus.
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How To Prevent Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus can be an embarrassing problem, but its also one thats easily avoidable. Here are a few tips on how to prevent toenail fungus: Keep your feet clean and dry. This means washing your feet daily and making sure theyre completely dry before putting on socks or shoes.
Change your socks and shoes regularly. Dont wear the same pair of socks or shoes day after day. If you do, the sweat and moisture will start to build up and create the perfect environment for fungus to grow.
Dont share towels or socks. If you share towels or socks with someone who has toenail fungus, youre more likely to develop the condition yourself. Wear breathable shoes.
Shoes that dont allow your feet to breathe are more likely to cause toenail fungus. So, choose shoes made from materials like leather or canvas instead of plastic or rubber. Keep your nails short.
Long nails provide more places for fungus to hide and make it more difficult to keep your toes clean. Avoid going barefoot in public places. Doing this exposes your feet to fungus thats living on the floor.
Use an antifungal powder. Before putting on your socks or shoes, dust your feet with an antifungal powder. This will help keep fungus at bay.
Treat cuts and scrapes promptly. If you injure your toenail, clean the wound and cover it with a bandage. This will help prevent bacteria and fungus from getting into the wound and causing an infection.
How Did I Get Toenail Fungus
The most common place to get toenail fungus is at the nail salon. Walking barefoot in public places such as locker rooms or pool areas can also lead to toenail fungus. Other risk factors include having your feet sweating a lot, having diabetes, or having a family member with toenail fungus. If you have any of these risk factors, be sure to talk to your doctor about ways to prevent toenail fungus.
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Signs And Symptoms Of A Fungal Nail Infection
A fungal nail infection may not cause any obvious symptoms at first.
As it progresses, the infection can cause:
- discolouration of the nail it may turn white, black, yellow or green
- thickening and distortion of the nail it may become an unusual shape or texture and be difficult to trim
- pain or discomfort particularly when using or placing pressure on the affected toe or finger
- brittle or crumbly nails pieces may break off and come away completely
Sometimes the skin nearby may also become infected and be itchy and cracked or red and swollen.
Complications: What If The Infection Is Left Untreated
If the nail fungus spreads deeper into the nail bed, it will cause the nail to thicken and turn green, yellow, brown, or black. As the infection progresses, the infected nail becomes brittle and pieces of it will start to break off from the toe or finger completely. Should the condition be left untreated, it can spread to other nails or cause skin around the infected nail to become inflamed. In more advanced stages, a foul smell may develop and white or yellow patches may be seen on the exposed nail bed. Over time, severe fungal nail infections can cause permanent damage to the nail root or nail bed.
It can be quite embarrassing to have this condition since this is an infection thats hard to hide. People with Onychomycosis may also find it difficult or painful to wear shoes, walk, or stand for long periods of time if their toenails have been infected severely.
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Sarah is a freelance writer with a focus on health and wellness. She has written for publications like Women’s Health, Healthline, and Parents. She taught creative writing for five years, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Connecticut State University.
We independently research, test, review, and recommend the bestproducts. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Verywell Health / Peter Ardito
Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. If left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes.
Can Thick Toenails Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of thick toenails or the recurrence of toenail fungus in several ways:
- Keep your feet clean by washing them with soap and water regularly. Dry them off with a towel afterward.
- Keep your feet as dry as possible: Change your socks a few times a day, wear cotton socks that remove moisture from your feet, rotate your shoes so they can dry out, and purchase shoes that breathe and dont constrict your feet.
- Try a foot powder that keeps your feet dry.
- Wear flip-flops or other shower shoes when you are in locker rooms or at the pool.
- Groom your feet properly.
- Make sure to use disinfected tools when trimming your nails.
- Purchase new footwear if your nail fungus has recently been cured.
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