If you notice that your toenails are discoloured or dark, and this condition has lasted for quite a while you may have toenail fungus (Onychomycosis). This is a fairly common condition. In fact nearly 10 percent of adults experience fungal nail infection!
The best way to deal with toenail fungus is to avoid ever getting it; however, if you are currently struggling with it, you’ll be happy to know that there are some effective ways to get rid of it.
In this article, we will discuss some some smart steps you can take to avoid toenail fungus and suggest some effective treatments. If you want to simply know which products we recommend as the best fungal nail treatment, please jump to the second part of this article.
What is toenail fungus and what can be done about it?
The fungus that causes this problem is quite common. It is the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot and ringworm outbreaks. The difference is just in the location of the fungal infection. Diligent foot care will help prevent athlete’s foot and fungal nail infection.
If you notice that you have itchy feet, you should suspect that athlete’s foot is developing. Be sure to keep your feet and toenails clean and dry. Change your socks at least once a day, and make certain to choose socks that absorb excess moisture. Fabric blends that wick moisture away from the feet are actually better than 100 percent cotton.
While it is a good idea to give your feet several hours exposure to air every day, you should always wear some kind of shoe. Open sandals protect your feet and prevent picking up fungus and germs while still allowing good air circulation.
Keep your toenails correctly trimmed and use a lotion containing peppermint, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil or some other natural anti-fungal agent to keep your feet well moisturised. Clean, well cared for feet are less likely to develop a fungal infection.
Other steps you can take to avoid the development of fungus on your feet and toenails include:
- Weekly soaking in warm water with apple cider vinegar
- Daily application of medicated powder
- Adopting an antifungal diet
Even when all of the suggestions above are followed, you may pick up a fungal infection in the locker room at your gym. There may come a time when you must wear your shoes and socks for an extended period of time (e.g. camping or hiking). Or you may simply develop a fungal infection for some other reason. When this happens, there are some over-the-counter treatments you can try.
Best fungal nail treatment – our top picks
Why to buy it:
- This product comes as a set which includes a powerful urea based ointment, plasters and a scraper to help remove damaged parts of the infected nail.
- To use this product, you would apply the ointment to the infected nail and cover the treated area with a plaster to keep it in place. This process will help soften the infected area of the nail.
- When you remove the plaster, you should soak your feet and then use the scraper to remove the softened parts of the nail.
- You can repeat this process once daily until all damaged parts of the nail are removed and clean new nail grows in.
Why to buy it:
- This effective all-natural treatment contains essential oils that are powerful antifungal agents.
- Among the ingredients are pomegranate oil, oil of rosemary, clove oil, tea tree oil and Argan oil.
- This product comes in an ointment formula that is easy to apply.
- The salve is readily absorbable and penetrates the skin and nails to fight fungus on the spot.
Why to buy it:
- This product from Scholl, a well respected and established producer of foot care products, is said to eliminate 99.9 percent of all nail fungus.
- This strong and effective treatment helps prevent the reoccurrence of infection. The liquid formulation is easy to apply directly to the nails and surrounding skin.
- If you catch the infection early you should meet with a great deal of success in eliminating it.
4. Fungus Stop
Why to buy it:
- This liquid treatment is as easy to paint on as fingernail polish. It is an all-natural combination of antifungal nutrients and essential oils.
- The product contains vitamins C and E and a substance known as Carvacrol, which is sourced from oil of oregano.
- All ingredients are therapeutic grade and generally recognized as safe by the FDA and EU.
- This powerful combination of ingredients will reap positive results in as little as four weeks time.
Why to buy it:
- This product is a powerful liquid that can be painted onto the toenails.
- It works by penetrating the surface of the nail and changing the pH balance to create an acidic environment that is hostile to fungal infection.
- It is important to note that this product is not an all-natural, herbal solution. It is a combination of chemicals that can be damaging and irritating to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.
- Also, like nail polish, this product is flammable.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What causes fungal nail infection?
The same fungus that causes athlete’s foot, ringworm and jock’s itch can also lead to a fungal nail infection.
You can get a fungal nail infection from the gym locker, wearing shoes for an extended period or swimming in a public pool.
Not properly drying your toes and feet can also cause an overgrowth of fungi on or under the nails, leading to a fungal infection.
Seniors are at a higher risk of nail fungus because of poor circulation and thickening nails.
Q: How do I tell I have nail fungus?
Look out for the following signs:
- Discolored or dark nails. You may notice yellow or white streaks on the nail or yellow spots.
- A misshapen nail.
- A thickened or brittle nail.
- White flakes on the nail.
- Scale under the nail.
However, the only sure way of knowing it is a fungal nail infection is to see the doctor since other infections can have similar symtomps.
Q: Is there any cure for nail fungus?
Fungal infections are typically hard to treat compared to bacterial ones. But there are some treatments that can eliminate nail fungus, though there is a chance it might return.
For serious infections, ask your doctor to prescribe oral antifungal medication. It is the most effective treatment for nail fungus.
In addition, you can use an over-the-counter topical treatment such as the ones we have reviewed above. These include ointments, salves and creams.
Q: Can toenail fungus go away on its own?
No, a fungal infection in your toenail will not go away on its own. It will keep getting worse if left untreated.
It’ll keep spreading and could eventually cause permanent damage to the nail.
That’s why it is essential to seek treatment as soon as you notice the first symptoms.
Quick treatment is especially important for people with diabetes or a weak immune system to prevent complications.
Q: Can I get toenail fungus from another person?
Yes, it’s possible for nail fungus to spread from person to person.
You can catch it by coming into contact with someone that has the infection or sharing things like nail clippers and emery boards.
You should also be careful when sharing things like foot exercisers, foot massagers and foot spas. Sanitize them before use.
For a foot exerciser, keep your shoes on when using it.
Sharing shoes or socks can also spread the infection.
Q: Can toenail fungus spread internally?
If untreated, toenail fungus usually spreads to other nails and outer parts of the body such as the groin, head and between the toes.
In rare cases, the infection can enter the blood stream and cause serious complications.
As soon as you notice signs of nail fungus, get an oral prescription or an over-the-counter topical treatment.
Q: How long does nail fungus take to go away?
With the right treatment, you should start seeing improvements in a few weeks.
But for complete recovery, you’ll have to wait until a new uninfected nail grows. That takes 12 to 18 months.
But even then, some permanent discoloration or disfigurement may remain.
Also remember that the infection can recur if you are not careful about keeping your feet clean and dry.
Nail fungus treatment is not a one-off
It is important to understand that nail fungus is always a symptom of a systemic fungal infection. It does not occur on its own, and it is not a condition in and of itself. Even if you “catch” athlete’s foot fungus at your local gym or from some other source, the fact that it was able to take hold indicates a weakness in your immune system.
Build up your immune system and overall good health by taking a high quality multivitamin daily. Adding 1000 mg of vitamin C and a B-50 supplement will further help alkalise your system and build up your body’s ability to fight off germs, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Including spices that have strong anti-fungal properties can also be helpful. Some of the best and tastiest include cinnamon, cayenne pepper, cloves and turmeric.
Avoid simple carbohydrates, sugar and artificial ingredients in your food. Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, lean sources of protein and complex carbohydrates for good gut health and a strong immune system. Including fermented foods in your diet, such as sauerkraut and plain, natural yogurt can also help with gut health and keep your immune system strong.
If you do happen to develop a fungal nail infection, naturally it is important to treat the symptoms and rid your nails of the fungus; however, you must also watch your diet, take appropriate supplements and take good care of your feet and nails if you wish to prevent reinfection.