About Fungal Nail Infection
Many people develop a fungal nail infection at some point in their life. It’s not usually serious, but can be unpleasant and difficult to treat.
The infection develops slowly and causes the nail to become discoloured, thickened and distorted.
Toenails are more frequently affected than the fingernails.
The medical name for a fungal nail infection is onychomycosis.
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If you suspect your nails are infected with fungus, it is important to see a doctor. You should consult a doctor for treatment. A nail fungus can be treated with home remedies. Baking soda and vinegar can also help to eliminate the fungus. In some cases, you can even apply a diluted solution of one of these solutions. You should avoid touching the affected area as it may cause further complications.
What Is Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is an infection that lives underneath the nail, in the skin of the nail bed. Toenail fungus is more than a cosmetic concern.
Images show a range of disease severity.
Symptoms of toenail fungus may include:
- Thickening of the nail
Factors that can increase the risk of developing toenail fungus include:
- Wearing closed-toe shoes
- Getting pedicures with improperly sanitized tools
- Having a chronic illness, such as diabetes or HIV
- Having a deformed nail or a nail disease
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What About Bleach Baths
Bleach baths are an approach dermatologists may recommend for treating skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and recurrent Staphylococcus infections on the skin. These involve mixing a very small amount of bleach in bath water typically a half cup of bleach to a full-sized bathtub of water.
While its true that bleach baths may temporarily kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses, the effects arent long-lasting and arent likely to treat an existing toenail fungal infection.
What Causes Fungal Nails And What Are Some Of The Risk Factors
In normal, healthy people, fungal infections of the nails are most commonly caused by a fungus that is caught in moist, wet areas. Communal showers, such as those at a gym or swimming pools, are common sources. Going to nail salons that use inadequate sanitization of instruments in addition to living with family members who have fungal nails are also risk factors. Athletes have been proven to be more susceptible to nail fungus. This is presumed to be due to the wearing of tight-fitting, sweaty shoes associated with repetitive trauma to the toenails. Having an athlete’s foot makes it more likely that the fungus will infect your toenails. Repetitive trauma also weakens the nail, which makes the nail more susceptible to fungal infection.
Elderly people and people with certain underlying disease states are also at higher risk. Anything that impairs your immune system can make you prone to getting infected with the fungus. These include conditions such as AIDS, diabetes, cancer, psoriasis, or taking any immunosuppressive medications like steroids.
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Treating Fungal Nail Infection
Treatment may not be necessary in mild cases of fungal nail infection. For more severe or troublesome cases, antifungal medication may be recommended.
A fungal nail infection is unlikely to get better without treatment, but if you’re not bothered by it you might decide it’s not worth treating because treatment can take a long time, may cause side effects, and isn’t always effective.
Whether or not you decide to have treatment, you should still follow the self-help advice below to help stop the condition getting worse or spreading to others.
Which Treatment Is Right For Me
Nail fungus is usually harmless. But many people find discolored or thickened nails unpleasant to look at and want to get rid of the fungus as soon as possible. Fungal nail infections can also spread, and may infect other people. Regardless of the treatment you choose, it will take a while until the nail looks normal again. Its especially important to be patient where toenails are concerned. It can take a year for a healthy big toenail to grow back. Nail fungus can sometimes be very persistent despite treatment. It can also come back after successful treatment.
Topical treatment isnt likely to get rid of a fungal nail infection. Treatment with tablets is considerably more effective and takes less time. But some people cant take tablets because of the very rare, yet serious risks. How you feel about the pros and cons of the different treatment options is a personal matter. You can also discuss the options with your doctor.
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To Use Ciclopirox Topical Solution Follow These Steps:
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.
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What About The Cost Of Oral Medications For Fungal Nails
A further consideration is cost. Because newer oral antifungal agents are very expensive, some insurance companies balk at paying for what they consider a “cosmetic issue,” unless nail fungus causes pain or other functional symptoms. Terbinafine and fluconazole are now available as generic drugs and are quite inexpensive.
What Is The Prognosis Of Fungal Nails
Curing fungal nails can be difficult and treatment can take up to 18 months. Relapse and reinfection are common. Trying to remove or modify your risk factors, if possible, is essential to preventing reinfection. People who have medical illnesses that predispose them to fungal nails can have an even more difficult time eradicating the fungus.
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How Effective Are Topical Treatments
So far, only a few studies have looked into topical nail fungus treatments with nail polishes or creams. Because these studies had weaknesses, the results should be interpreted with caution. Amorolfine has not yet been well studied. Ciclopirox polish and treatment sets with urea and bifonazole cream were tested in a few studies.
Research on the effectiveness of nail polish containing ciclopirox showed that, after one year:
- About 10 out of 100 people who did not use ciclopirox no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
- About 32 out of 100 people who used ciclopirox no longer had a detectable fungal nail infection.
In other words, treatment with ciclopirox got rid of the fungal infection in about 22 out of 100 people. But even if the fungus had gone away, the cosmetic result wasnt always satisfying. The nails only looked healthy after treatment in 7 out of 100 people.
Treatment with sets containing urea and bifonazole cream was tested in one study. It was compared with a treatment in which only urea cream was applied and the nail was removed, but without applying bifonazole cream afterwards. Three months after treatment was completed, it was found that:
- No fungus was visible or detectable in about 41 out of 100 people who only used urea cream.
- No fungus was visible or detectable in about 51 out of 100 people who used both urea and bifonazole cream.
What Is The Outlook For Someone With Toenail Fungus
While toenail fungus is common, its usually not harmful. Symptoms mostly affect the look of your toenail.
Toenail fungus may spread to the skin between your toes or other areas of your body. When getting dressed, put your socks on first to reduce the chance of spread.
Treating toenail fungus takes a long time, and it doesnt always work. Even then, toenail fungus often returns. Discuss the pros and cons of treating toenail fungus with your provider to determine whats best for you.
Practicing good hygiene and foot care reduces the chance toenail fungus will come back. If you have diabetes, getting regular foot exams may help you address foot problems before they get serious.
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Toenail Fungus Treatment What Are My Options
What is toenail fungus and fingernail fungus?
Fungal infections of the nails can be a persistent and sometimes embarrassing problem and occasionally can become painful. These infections develop when fungi, known as dermatophytes, burrow under nails causing them to become crusty, thick, discolored, and distorted.
What are the symptoms of toenail fungus and fingernail fungus?
The first signs and symptoms of fingernail or toenail fungus is a white or yellow spot appearing underneath the tip of the nail, which then thickens and distorts the nail as the infection progresses. As fungi grow under and into the nail, crusting, discoloration, and darkening begin. Moreover, infected nails often separate from the nail bed, which can cause pain in the tips of fingers and toes, as well as a slightly foul-smelling odor.
What are the causes of fingernail and toenail fungus?
What are the conventional fingernail and toenail fungus treatments?
Toenail Fungus Prevention
Vinegar has been used traditionally to ward off nail fungus. Evidence of efficacy is sketchy at best, but you could try soaking your feet in one part vinegar to two parts warm water for 15 to 20 minutes daily.
Whatever treatment you choose, take these precautions to prevent recurrences:
A final consideration:
What Tests Might I Have For Toenail Fungus
Your provider will probably take a small sample from underneath your nail to further analyze it. Viewing the cells under a microscope can confirm a toenail fungus diagnosis. If the initial test is negative, a scraping can be sent to see if the fungus grows out in a culture. It also helps your provider identify the type of fungus.
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Softening And Scraping Away The Nail
As it can take a long time for antifungal medication to work, some people may prefer to use a treatment that involves softening and removing infected parts of nail over a few weeks.
Treatment kits are available from pharmacies that contain a 40% urea paste, plasters and a scraping device. The paste softens the infected parts of the nail, allowing them to be scraped away so they can be gradually replaced with healthy nail.
To use the treatment:
- wash the affected area and dry it thoroughly
- carefully apply the paste to the infected nails
- cover the nails with plasters and leave them for 24 hours
- wash the paste off the next day and scrape away the softened parts of the nail
- repeat this process each day for 2 to 3 weeks
Once no more infected parts of the nail can be removed, ask your pharmacist for antifungal nail paint to prevent re-infection as the nail regrows over the next few months.
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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Summary Of Findings 5
Griseofulvin compared to terbinafine for toenail onychomycosis
|Griseofulvin compared to terbinafine for toenail onychomycosis|
|Patient or population: participants with confirmed toenail onychomycosisSetting: outpatient clinics|
Seventeen studies compared azole with terbinafine . Azoles included fluconazole posaconazole fluconazole and itraconazole in two arms and itraconazole, ketoconazole and fluconazole in three arms . All other studies used itraconazole as the only azole.
This is the main comparison for our review, and we present the results in the Table 1, which includes a detailed discussion of the quality of the evidence using the GRADE framework as described in Quality of the evidence section.
When only including studies using itraconazole , the effect estimate remained similar .
Ranawaka 2016 looked at onychomycosis caused by nondermatophyte moulds only and found no difference when comparing azole to terbinafine . When removing this study from the metaanalysis, the overall results did not change .
When comparing subgroups based on short or longterm followup, we observed low statistical heterogeneity . In studies with shortterm followup, the azole group was 14% less likely to achieve clinical cure , and with longterm followup the azole group was 20% less likely to achieve clinical cure compared to the terbinafine group. However, this difference was not statistically significant.
See Table 1.
Terbinafine versus placebo
Nail Fungus And Oral Treatments
Nail fungus infections could last a lifetime if they are just left alone. They can be just an unsightly presence in a persons daily life, but they can also bring pain and a lot of harm if the infection worsens and spreads.
This is where treatment comes in. People who suffer from finger and toenail fungus have different treatment options, the most popular of which is perhaps oral medicine. Oral treatments are medications taken by mouth. As such, the medicines work from the inside of the body to heal the outside, supposedly killing the nail fungus infection. These are usually considered when the nail fungus infection is from moderate to severe because they have systemic effect and are able to reach different parts of the body.
Oral anti-fungal treatments are said to have high effectiveness rate. However, they also have high risks. They may also come with side effects, and therefore they are not recommended for some nail fungus sufferers.
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Fast Facts On Nail Fungal Infection:
- Microscopic fungi in the nail cause the condition.
- It can affect both fingernails and toenails but is more common in feet.
- Diagnosis is carried out by examination of the debris under the nail.
Treating nail fungus infections can be a long and expensive process. There are oral antifungal medications, topical ointments, and alternative therapies. Over the counter creams and ointments are available, but they have not proved very effective.
Oral medications for nail fungus infection include:
- greater clinical effects than the prescribed antifungal medication ketoconazole.
Other alternative medicines used to treat nail fungal infections include Australian tea tree oil, vinegar, listerine, and grapefruit seed extract. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting the use of these products.
What Are Treatments For Toenail Fungus
Do you need to treat your nail fungus? Maybe it doesnât hurt, and the yellow, thick nails donât bother you.
But nail fungus doesnât go away by itself. And if you donât treat it, thereâs a chance it could get worse. It could spread to other nails or through your body. It could cause pain when you walk.
There are a number of ways to take care of it, including:
Nonprescription options. You can buy antifungal creams, gels, and nail polish at the store and online without a prescription. You might want to try one of them first if the infection doesnât look bad. Some people also swear by home remedies like menthol rub, tea tree oil, mouthwash, or snakeroot extract â but studies show mixed results.
Prescription polish and creams. Your foot doctor will likely trim your nail and file away its dead layers. They may also take a piece of your nail and send it to the lab to make sure itÃ¢s really a fungus and to find out what type it is.
The doctor might suggest an antifungal drug that you paint on your nails. This may work on its own, or they may suggest you take it with antifungal pills.
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How Should I Take Terbinafine
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
You may take the terbinafine tablet with or without food.
Terbinafine granules should be sprinkled into a spoonful of pudding or mashed potatoes . Swallow this mixture right away without chewing. Do not save the mixture for later use.
Terbinafine is usually taken for 6 weeks to treat scalp or fingernail infections, and for 12 weeks to treat a toenail infection.
Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antifungal medicine. Terbinafine will not treat a viral infection such as the flu or a common cold.
While using terbinafine, you may need frequent blood tests.
It may take several months for your nails to return to their normal appearance after your treatment with terbinafine.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep the terbinafine oral granules in their sealed packet until you are ready to use.