How to Cure Nail Fungus
Onychomycosis, or nail fungus, is a common infection that affects toenails and, less frequently, fingernails. It is caused by group of fungus called dermatophytes, which thrives in warm, moist environments, like your shoes. If you suspect you have a nail infection, try to treat it quickly and routinely, as the fungus will continue to come back if allowed to take hold.
Identifying Nail Fungus
Look for a white or yellow spot under your nail.This is the first sign of a fungal infection. It may appear under the tip of your nail. As the infection takes hold, the discoloration will spread and your nail will become thicker and crumbly on the sides.
- Your nail may also be distorted in shape.
- An infected nail may look dull.
- Debris may appear under your nail, giving it a dark appearance.
Notice if your nail gives off a foul smell.An unpleasant odor doesn't always accompany a fungal infection. If you show other signs of infection but no smell, don't assume that means you're in the clear.
Check to see if other nails are infected.Nail fungus spreads easily. You may find that more than one (but usually not all) of your nails are also infected.If you see discoloration on a few of your nails, it is another sign you are dealing with nail fungus.
Don't hesitate to seek treatment if you experience pain or your nail starts coming off.These are clear symptoms of an infection, and it is probably pretty advanced. Ignoring the infection may affect your ability to walk and allow it to spread to other nails or the skin around your nails.
Treating the Fungus with Over-the-Counter or Home Remedies
Apply Vick's VapoRub rub to the nail.When used daily, this ointment (usually used to treat coughing) can be effective in reducing the symptoms of an infection. Apply a small amount with cotton swab.
Soften and trim your nails.Keeping your nails short reduces pressure on your toe or finger, relieving pain. Trimming can become difficult when infected nails become thick and hard, however, so you may need to soften them first. Buy a non-prescription lotion containing urea, which can thin and break down the diseased part of the nail plate.
- Before bed, cover the infected nail with the lotion and wrap it in a bandage.
- In the morning, rinse your feet with soap and water to remove the cream. The nails should soon begin to soften enough for you to file or cut them.
- Look for a 40% urea lotion.
Buy an antifungal cream or ointment.There are many non-prescription options you may want to try before visiting a doctor. First, file off any white markings on the infected nail, then soak it in water for several minutes. Dry your nails before applying the cream with a cotton swab.
- Using a cotton swab or other disposable applicator will help prevent the fungus from spreading. Touch the affected area as little as possible.
Use snakeroot extract.In one study, this plant extract was similarly effective as a prescription antifungal cream. Treatment lasts about three months.
- Use every three days for the first month.
- Use twice a week for the second month.
- Use once a week for the third month.
Treating the Fungus with Prescription Drugs
Try an oral antifungal drug.Considered the most effective treatment, you must have a prescription to take these drugs. Treatment usually lasts three months and your doctor may also prescribe a topical cream or ointment. You may also need to take periodic blood tests to monitor how your body is responding to the drugs.
- Oral antifungal drugs work by replacing the infected nail with a new, healthy nail. You won't see results until the nail is completely regrown, which may take over four months.
- These drugs can sometimes have severe side effects and are not recommended if you have liver disease or congestive heart failure.
Ask about medicated nail polish.This remedy requires you to paint the infected nails and the surrounding skin once daily. At the end of the week, you remove the layers of polish with alcohol and begin the process over.
- This method can take up to a year to keep the infection at bay.
Use prescription creams or lotions.Antifungal creams may be prescribed alone or in conjunction with another treatment, like oral drugs. To help the cream penetrate your nail, try thinning your nails first. You can either soak them in water or treat them overnight with a urea cream.
Remove the infected nail.Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor may recommend surgically removing the nail. This allows topical treatments to be applied directly to your skin and to the new nail as it grows back.
- If the infection is extremely painful or does not respond to treatment, your doctor may decide to permanently remove the nail.
- It may take as long as a year for your nail to grow back.
Wear shower shoes when visiting a public pool, locker room, spa, or showers.Fungal infections spread very easily, and they thrive in damp environments. Protect yourself by wearing flip-flops or other shower shoes that will reduce your contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.
Keep your nails trim, dry, and clean.Wash your hands and feet regularly, making sure you wash between your fingers and toes. Keep your nails short and dry, and file down any thick areas of your nail plate.
- Your toenails should not extend beyond the length of your toe.
- Try to dry your hands as often as possible if you have a job where your hands are often wet, like bartending or housekeeping. If you have to wear rubber gloves, make sure you change them so your hands don't get too sweaty and damp.
- If you suspect you have an infection, do not paint over your nail with regular nail polish and try to hide it. This can trap moisture and make the infection worse.
Wear the right shoes and socks.Throw away old shoes and look for shoes that reduce humidity, which will keep your feet from getting damp. Change your socks regularly (more than once a day if you sweat a lot), and look for fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin, such as wool, nylon and polypropylene.
Visit reputable nail salons and keep your own tools clean.Make sure any salon where you get a manicure or pedicure carefully sterilizes all their tools. If you can't tell how rigorous their sterilizing process is, bring your own instruments and disinfect them afterwards.
- Disinfect your nail or cuticle clippers or any other tools you use to keep your nails trim and healthy.
QuestionWhat should I not touch when having a fungal disease in hands and nails?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGarlic, milk, paint, nail polish, dirt, sand, any powder, anything hot, and dust.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I do when all treatments have been exhausted including, laser treatments, oral meds, all liquid meds including Jublia and complete removal of thumbnail and fungal infection is now back?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerConsult a doctor for advice.Thanks!
QuestionMy finger nails are peeling back from their base. What can I do?RileyAnnCommunity AnswerPut lotion on them, any lotion. Just do this 2–3 times daily until they heal.Thanks!
QuestionCan I polish toenails while treating fungus?JulietRikkiCommunity AnswerNo. Make sure you file and cut your nail every day to make sure the fungus doesn't get worse - but do not paint your nails.Thanks!
QuestionCan I put bleach on my nails for the fungus?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Bleach will tear off your skin and will make your skin harsh. Try the methods in the article.Thanks!
QuestionIs cider vinegar an effective treatment for a nail fungus infection?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt can be, but you should talk to a doctor to ensure that the fungus can be treated without medication. Some infections may require antibiotics.Thanks!
Can all methods be used at same time?
Is it beneficial to use vinegar to fight nail fungus?
What are some ways to tell if I have a nail fungus, and what can preventative measures can be taken?
What are some good OTC remedies for nail fungus?
What is the reason why I'm not supposed to come into contact with garlic?
To cure a nail fungus, apply a small amount of Vick's VapoRub to the nail daily with a cotton swab. Next, relieve pressure on the infected area by trimming your nails short. Alternatively, if your nail is too sensitive to cut, file off any white marks on your nail, soak the nail in water for 2 minutes, and apply an anti-fungal cream with a cotton swab. If none of these treatments work, visit your doctor to get a prescription cream or oral anti-fungal drug.
- Keep your feet dry.
- Wear cotton socks.
- Nail fungus is not very common in children and is found mostly in adults.
- People with weakened immune systems, diabetes, circulation problems, or Down syndrome are more susceptible to fungal infections.
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