Treatment Options For Nail Fungus

Nail fungus is a fungal infection that can cause thinning, thickening, or discoloration of the fingernails or toenails. The proper medical term for the infection is onychomycosis. It's a fairly common condition, but it occurs more frequently in the elderly. It can also affect the skin on the feet and in between the toes. This condition is called tinea pedis, but is more commonly known as athlete's foot. Nail fungus can develop from conditions where nails are moist or wet for long periods. Examples include wearing the same pair of sweaty footwear every day or situations where fingernails are wet for hours at a time. Individuals can also contract the infection by walking barefoot in areas like a gym, pool, or locker room after an infected person walked through the same area. The condition can worsen over time and develop a foul odor. The nails may become brittle, deformed, or ragged at the edges. Treatment for nail fungus depends on its severity and can range from months of self-care measures to one-time surgical procedures.

Wear Medicated Nail Polish

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Medicated nail polish may be prescribed for mild cases of nail fungus, as antifungal nail polish can treat the fungal infection and heal the damage. It can treat many symptoms of nail fungus, including brittleness, discoloration, or roughness. Treatment typically involves daily applications of the polish to the infected nails and surrounding areas. The duration and number of applications can vary depending on the severity of the condition, and it can take a few months or up to a year for completion. Patients should wear medicated nail polish if their infection isn't advanced and they have the time and patience for daily applications over a long period.

Use Antifungal Cream Or Ointment


Patients can use antifungal cream or ointment to treat nail fungus. Doctors may prescribe it for treatment, but they are also available over-the-counter. Medicated nail creams are rubbed into the affected nails to treat the underlying fungus. These creams and ointments usually work better if the patient soaks and files down the affected nails so the medicine can penetrate the surface of the nail. Lotions are available to thin the nails, and the doctor may have tools for that purpose if the patient prefers to have it done by a professional. Nonprescription creams and ointments are usually not strong enough to get rid of nail fungus, but they may be helpful for mild conditions or as a temporary solution. The fungus may clear up and reappear sometime in the future. This may also happen with prescription creams because fungal infections can reoccur for a variety of reasons. Some infections don't respond well to medication.

Removal Of The Affected Nails


Severe cases of nail fungus may become painful or cause extreme discomfort. Other cases may not respond well to medications or patients may be unable to tolerate them because of existing health conditions. A doctor may suggest temporary removal of the affected nails in certain situations so the antifungal medication can be applied directly to the affected areas. Permanent nail removal is an option for patients who have severe or very painful infections or if they don't respond to medication. Removal of the nail can be done at a doctor's office or clinic by using a strong chemical or surgical procedures. The nail will eventually grow back, but it may take more than a year. Avoid re-infection by wearing well-fitting shoes, wearing socks with shoes, keeping feet dry and ventilated, and not walking barefoot in public places.

Trim And Thin Nails


Keeping nails trimmed and thinned during a fungal infection can serve many purposes. Trim and thin nails to ease pressure on the nails, facilitate penetration of antifungal medications, and remove some of the fungi. Fungus growing under the nail can eventually cause pressure and discomfort, and keeping nails thin by filing them down can relieve a bit of this pressure. Thinned nails can increase penetration of antifungal creams or ointments into deeper layers of the nail to attack the fungus. Cutting and filing nails once a week may also get rid of some of the fungus. Creams containing urea can be used to soften thick nails before trimming and thinning. Emory boards are great for filing off ragged edges or removing discolorations on the surface of the nail. Individuals should be careful when trimming and filing nails, especially if the area is painful or tender.

Take Oral Antifungal Medication


Oral antifungal medication can be taken for severe infections or quick resolution of the fungal infection. Nail fungus clears up more quickly with oral medication, but these medications may cause severe side effects like liver damage. Take oral antifungal medication to stimulate the growth of a new, healthy nail to replace the infected one. The treatment period is usually six to twelve weeks, but it may take up to four months to get rid of the infection entirely. Oral antifungal medications are effective but have a lower rate of success in adults over sixty-five years old. These medications may cause side effects, so doctors may recommend blood tests every six weeks to monitor their effects. They may interact with certain medications and are not recommended for individuals with heart problems or liver disease.


    HealthPrep Staff