Fungal toenail infections are stubborn, hard-to-eliminate problems that ravage your nails. These uninvited, microscopic inhabitants move in under your toenails and begin to grow. The organisms are hard to reach and don’t go away on their own, making treatment both difficult and necessary. This particular condition isn’t caused by hygiene issues; if you have a problem, it isn’t because your feet were too dirty, but because you were exposed to the fungus. Fortunately, many types of treatment—both prescription and “home remedies”—are available to those who like to consider multiple options.
The most effective treatments for any fungal infection are those that have been developed by experts and studied in clinical trials. Topical medications, oral anti-fungals, and even laser treatments are all used to eliminate this issue. Topical medications are put directly onto your nails and skin: lacquers, ointments, lotions, sprays, and powders all fall under this category. These are very effective for killing the organisms on the surface. Unfortunately, for most nail infections, the fungus is hidden deep under the nail where a topical medication can’t easily reach.
Oral medications are valuable for reaching the out-of-reach fungi. The medicine is carried through the blood to the infected area. Once there, it kills the offending organisms. Like any oral medication, it must be taken consistently through the entire prescribed period to be effective. Medication stopped early runs the risk of not killing the most stubborn microorganisms, which then grow stronger, multiply, and make the entire infection much harder to eliminate. Laser treatments are another option. They are the newest technology used in the battle against nail fungus. Drs. Watkins and Markiewicz use the cutting-edge PinPointe Laser to treat their patients.
Though no clinical studies have proven the effectiveness of home remedies, many people subscribe to their effectiveness. They are less expensive than their prescription counterparts and can be found in most grocery stores or pharmacies. The most common solutions suggested are vinegar, Vick’s vapor rub, diluted bleach, and tea tree oil.
Vinegar: This is a regularly recommended home cure. Vinegar is acidic, which fungus does not like. Apple-cider vinegar is the preferred kind, since it is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, although any kind of vinegar will do. Soak your feet twice daily in a half vinegar, half water solution for 15 minutes each time.
Vick’s vapor rub: Anecdotal evidence suggests that this common cold ointment may take care of nail fungus, too, although clinical evidence has not proven this. Its active ingredients—camphor, menthol, and eucalyptus oil—have been shown in a few studies to have some anti-fungal properties. Proponents recommend rubbing the Vick’s on your affected nails twice daily.
Diluted bleach: Bleach is already used to kill any number of stubborn bacteria and organisms. Some recommend using it to treat your fungus problem. Dilute bleach in water (1 tablespoon per gallon of water used) and soak your feet for 30 minutes at a time.
Tea tree oil: This natural oil is known to have strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. You can apply it directly to your infected nails or add it to a foot soak. This particular oil has been shown to be effective against fungus and is actually an ingredient in a number of anti-fungal medications.
In some cases, the nail can be completely and permanently removed to eliminate and prevent a particularly stubborn infection. This may sound extreme, but for people with regularly recurring and difficult fungal infections, removing the nail is the only way to eradicate this unpleasant and uninvited guest.
No matter how you approach your fungal infection, you should have it examined by one of our specialists at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC, who will evaluate the state of your infection and help you determine the most effective path for healing. Don’t wait until your fungal toenails are completely out of control to seek expert help. Contact our offices for an appointment or more information by visiting the online contact page or by calling us.