Signs Of A Toenail Fungal Infection
- Discolored toenails. Nails can be brown, black, white, or yellow. Usually a small area changes color at first and it slowly spreads.
- Thickened toenails. Over time, the nail becomes thick, material builds up under the nail, and the nail can develop an irregular shape, grooves, or a crumbling appearance.
- Affects one or more toenails. The fungus may spread to other toenails. The big toe is most commonly affected. The fungus can also occur in fingernails.
- Starts at the end or side of the toenail. The infection gradually spreads toward the cuticle.
- Usually painless unless there are skin changes or injury to the nail bed or if shoes press on the thick nail.
- Athletes foot. Some people will also have skin fungus on their feet, which looks like red, peeling skin between the toes.
Patients may say that they are embarrassed to go to the pool or the beach, or they avoid wearing sandals. They describe their nails as thick, crumbling, and abnormally colored. One patient described their nails as looking like an animals horn, which is pretty accurate. But they are so thrilled when they see results from treatment! Dr. Anne Jacobsen
Mayo Clinic Q And A: Treatment For Toenail Fungus Isnt Always Necessary
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I am in my late 50s, and a few of my toenails have turned a yellowish color and seem to have thickened. Is this something I should be concerned about? Is there anything I can do to fix this?
ANSWER: What youre likely experiencing is a fungal nail infection. Fungal nail infections are common, especially among older adults. As nail growth slows with age, its easier for fungus to establish in the nail bed. Treatments are available, although they may take some vigilance and are not always necessary.
Toenail fungus usually is caused by a microscopic organism called dermatophyte fungus. It often begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your toenail. But as the infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge. These fungal infections are more likely to happen in your toenails than in your fingernails because toenails often are confined in a dark, warm, moist environment, where fungi can thrive. Toes also have less blood flow than fingers, making it harder for your bodys immune system to detect and stop the infection. But it is possible for fingernails to be affected.
The older you are, the more likely you are to get toenailfungus. Thats because as you age, your immune system changes. Inaddition, your nails become more brittle and drier over time, creating morecracks where fungus can live.
What Oral Medications Are Available
To treat fungal nail infections from inside the body, you can take tablets that inhibit the growth of fungi or kill them. They are all prescription-only. Terbinafine and itraconazole are typically used for this purpose.
- Terbinafine is preferred if the nail fungus is caused by a skin fungus . This is usually the case.
- Itraconazole is generally used if the nail infection is caused by yeast or mold.
Itraconazole and terbinafine tablets can both be taken either continuously or with breaks between treatments. But they are used differently:
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What Are Common Side Effects Of Toenail Fungus Medication
Topical medications often prescribed to treat toenail fungus can potentially irritate the skin. Itchy, peeling, red flesh and blisters may also occur with many topicals. Consult your doctor if your medication is causing an unwanted skin reaction.
Liver damage is one of the most concerning side effects of some toenail fungus medications. Due to the nature of onychomycosis, many of the medications need to be taken for long periods of time to completely resolve nail fungus. Gastrointestinal issues, dizziness, and trouble breathing are also listed as potential side effects. In addition, if the individual treating the toenail fungus suffers from heart conditions, the medication could interfere with heart health.
The Lamisil Terbinafine Antifungal Cream Treats Fungus All Over The Body
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.
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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.
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When To See A Doctor
In most cases, toenail fungus is considered a cosmetic problem. Still, it may cause serious complications for some people.
If you have diabetes, toenail fungus may lead to foot ulcers or other foot problems. According to a 2012 study, chronic toenail fungus is a significant risk factor for bacterial cellulitis of the leg.
If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you shouldnt use home remedies for toenail fungus. Contact your doctor for the appropriate course of action.
Toenail Fungus: Causes Symptoms Treatment Prevention & More
Toenail fungus is a common problem that can be difficult to treat. The fungus can cause the toenail to become thick, yellow, or brittle. It can also cause pain and swelling. If you have toenail fungus, you may be wondering how to get rid of it.
There are several options for treating toenail fungus. You can try over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments. You can also try home remedies such as soaking your feet in vinegar or tea tree oil. If these treatments dont work, your doctor may prescribe oral antifungal medication.
If you have toenail fungus, its important to seek treatment right away. The longer you wait, the more difficult the fungus will be to treat.
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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.
What Are Other Treatment Options For Toenail Fungus
Common treatment options for toenail fungus include taking oral medications, applying topical antifungal medications, or a combination of both. Medications prescribed be a podiatrist offer a higher rate of success. Patients who don’t respond to prescription medicines may need to undergo laser toenail fungus therapy to effectively treat the toenail fungus.
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Who Is Eligible Or Recommended For Laser Toenail Therapy
In other words, are there any patients who are not recommended for laser nail fungus removal? Patients not approved to undergo laser nail fungus removal include pregnant or nursing women, those who have pigmented lesions or ingrown toenails, or anyone diagnosed with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, or arterial insufficiency.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Home Remedy For Toenail Fungus
To kill the fungus, affecting the toenail, mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water to make a solution, which is an effective foot soak for toenail fungus. If followed properly, the remedy will show its result in a few weeks.
Alternatively, an anti-fungal scrub can also be prepared by making a paste of grounded rice flour and a few spoons of apple cider vinegar. Use this paste directly onto the affected area and gently scrub it. This will also remove the dead skin cells.
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Clean Socks And Shoes
Regularly changing your socks and shoes can also cut down on the growth of unwanted foot fungus. Both socks and athletic shoes can be washed to rid the growth of yeasts and fungi that may be growing on the fabric. Adding a half-cup of baking soda or one cup of vinegar to the washing machine can help eliminate bacteria or fungus on socks or shoes. Some shoes can be machine dried. Drying shoes in the sun is another option when cleaning footwear, but make sure they are completely dry before wearing them again.
Boots and other footwear that are not machine washable could be wiped out with a vinegar and water solution or sprayed with an over-the-counter antifungal spray. Medicated powders are also helpful in treating shoes for foot fungus.
Allowing the feet to breathe by taking off shoes and socks when possible can prevent fungal growth. Protect your feet by wearing breathable footwear and clean, dry socks. Antimicrobial socks and shoes made from bamboo, copper, or specialty fabrics are also available. They can help reduce unwanted bacteria and yeast from growing in your footwear.
A proactive approach to keeping your feet clean and dry can prevent the spread of toenail fungus. You can wash or soak feet with warm soapy water or a foot bath using everyday household items. Soaking your feet in an all-natural, homeopathic concoction can be beneficial in reducing or eliminating toenail fungus.
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Toenail Fungus Treatment Complications
Here are some things to think about when deciding on a nail fungus treatment.
If you have a disease like diabetes, your doctor will make sure you treat nail fungus. This illness often makes you more likely to have other problems from minor foot issues.
You may not be able to take antifungal pills because of side effects or because they donât work well with other drugs you take. If that’s the case, try a product that goes onto your nail. Your doctor will call this a topical treatment.
Be patient. Your nails may not look “normal” after treatment. It can take as long as a year to 18 months for your nail to grow out a fungus.
Toenail Fungus Prescription Medication Treatments
Sometimes prescription medications are needed to treat a toenail infection that just wont go away with natural remedies or over-the-counter medication in a few months. In this case, prescription-strength antifungal medication can eradicate stubborn onychomycosis.
Topical antifungal medications often are effective in treating mild to moderate toenail fungus. Topical solutions may include medicated nail polishes or liquid medications. Penlac , Kerydin , and Jublia are among the top prescription drugs for toenail fungus. Some topical treatments require you to file down the surface of the nail to help the treatment get through to the nail bed. If your healthcare provider prescribes a topical medication, follow the instructions carefully for application and removal.
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Treatment For A Fungal Nail Infection From A Gp
A GP can prescribe antifungal tablets. But before they give you tablets they should take a sample of your nail and have it tested, to find out what type of infection you have.
You may need to take antifungal tablets for up to 6 months.
The tablets can have side effects, including:
- feeling sick and diarrhoea
You cannot take antifungal tablets if you’re pregnant or have certain conditions. They can damage your liver.
Badly infected nails sometimes need to be removed. It’s a small procedure done while the area is numbed .
When To Contact A Doctor
Toenail fungus is typically not a significant problem for most people. However, if there are no improvements or complications occur as a result of home remedies, people should speak with a doctor and stop using the home remedy as soon as possible. It is also advisable to contact a podiatrist if a person notices any discoloration, thickening, or abnormality of the toenails.
Furthermore, people at higher risk for complications should seek medical treatment for their toenail fungus and avoid home remedies altogether. This includes those with diabetes or with weakened immune systems.
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How Effective Are Tablets In Treating Nail Fungus
Tablets for the treatment of nail fungus have been tested in several studies. All participants had an infection on their toenails caused by a skin fungus. Overall, the study results showed that tablets are considerably more effective than nail polishes or creams.
One year after a three-month treatment with terbinafine:
- About 17 out of 100 people who didnt have this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
- About 76 out of 100 people who had this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
In other words, the treatment with terbinafine got rid of the fungal infection in about 59 out of 100 people.
Itraconazole also proved to be effective. After one year,
- 7 out of 100 people who didnt have this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
- About 43 out of 100 people who had this treatment no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
In other words, the treatment with itraconazole got rid of the fungal infection in about 36 out of 100 people.
Some studies directly compared itraconazole and terbinafine with each other. They confirm that terbinafine is somewhat more effective than itraconazole.
Treatment with breaks is thought to be about as effective as continuous treatment. But that has only been looked into in a few studies.
Lemon Juice: Home Remedy For Toenail Fungus
The citric acid in lemon juice helps in stopping the spread of bacterial and fungal infections in the toenail. Apply fresh lemon juice directly onto the toenail for ten minutes and rinse it with warm water. Repeat this daily for one month.
Lemon juice can also be mixed with olive oil. Use it to massage the affected area.
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How To Get Rid Of Yellow Nails
Treatment of yellow nails will depend on the cause. Most likely, your nails have become discolored because of an infection you have or a product you used. These home remedies are based on those causes of discoloration. However, it is important to be aware that home remedies are not always effective. See your physician if home remedies arent helpful in eliminating discoloration. If you dont already have a doctor, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.
When Are The Different Treatments Considered
Most doctors recommend treating nail fungus with nail polish or cream if
- not much more than half of the nail is affected by the fungus,
- the base of the nail is not infected, and
- only some nails are affected.
Topical treatment is also usually recommended for children. One reason for this is that most oral medications arent suitable for children. Another reason is that children have thinner nails that grow more quickly, so its assumed that treatment with nail polish or creams is more likely to work in children than in adults. White superficial onychomycosis is also often treated with a nail polish or cream.
If several nails are infected by the fungus, or if the infection has spread out more on the affected nails, its usually necessary to take oral medication. And if the infection started at the base of the nail, its highly likely that only tablets will help.
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Toenail Fungus Treatment Options
Treatment of onychomycosis will vary, depending on the severity of the infection and the type of fungus that initially triggered the infection. Topical treatments like antifungal creams and medicated nail lacquers are among the most effective treatment options for toenail fungus.
Laser treatment or the surgical removal of the toenail may be necessary in more severe cases of toenail fungus. Over-the-counter products and home remedies are also methods used alone or in conjunction with prescription drugs to treat nail fungus and prevent reinfection.