Nail fungus or onychomycosis is the whitening or yellowing of the nail that causes the nail to crumble or thicken at the edge as the fungus goes deeper into the nail. Nail fungus may also cause discoloration and can either occur in the finger or toe nails. Once a fungus is identified, it is recommended that nail fungus treatment be administered immediately. If the fungus is caught in the early stages, home remedies and over the counter drugs can be used; however, if the fungus infection is a prolonged condition, more drastic measures will need to be taken and surgery may be your only solution.
Types of nail fungus
To determine the best nail fungus treatment for your condition, it is good to know the different types of nail fungus in order for you to know what you need to treat. Some infections of the nail are easier to treat than others. Take for example the distal subungual onychomycosis infection. This infection is a lifelong fungus that requires time and patience when treating it; however, the white superficial onychomycosis is less aggressive and can easily be treated with the right medication. Yeast infection or Candida onychomycosis, to call it by its clinical name, and proximal subungual onychomycosis, PSO are the other two types of fungal nail infections that can affect either the hands or the feet. However, while yeast infection mostly affects the hand, PSO affects the foot and can be found more in HIV positive patients than anyone else.
Nail infections will not heal themselves; therefore, if you find that one or more of your nails have become infected, you will need to seek treatment; whether, home, over the counter, OTC or prescribed medicine.
Home Remedies for treating an infected nail
A self-made home treatment can be one of the best nail fungus treatments you will ever need. Treatments such as orange and tea tree oil; a vinegar and baking soda foot bath; or plain old coconut oil can quickly and easily treat an onychomycosis infection. These home remedies are easy to make and the ingredients are easy to find. They are highly recommended and will treat an infection in a short period of time without the use of harsh chemicals. Keep in mind, however, that home remedies will only treat new infections because once the nails begin to crumble; you will need to use more stringent methods to combat your infection.
OTC treatments come in various forms and are designed to be applied to the nail directly and areas surrounding the infected area. These topical treatments may either be in the form of creams, liquids or other solution forms. OTC treatments are recommended for either surface infections or skin infections because they do not penetrate the nail and are best used to treat conditions such as athlete’s foot. Some of the most popular over-the-counter treatments are terbinafine and clotrimazole. If you have come to realize that the infection has penetrated and has gone beneath the nail bed, an antifungal prescription or other prescribed treatments may be needed to combat the fungus and rid you of your infection.
If you have tried over-the-counter medications and topical home remedies to no avail, it is time to see your doctor to get strong prescribed medication designed to treat this condition from the inside out or be used as topical treatments as well. Some treatments that your doctor may opt for include:
These oral medications are antifungal drugs that promote fungus free nail growth, replacing the infected nail as your nail grows out. Oral medications vary; however, the most popular oral prescriptions are itraconazole and Terbinafine.
A typical course of treatment for prescribed drugs ranges from six to 12 weeks; however, the full effect of the treatment will not be revealed until your nail has regrown to its full extent. Infections, as was mentioned before, takes time and patience and the full effect of your treatment may not be visible for up to four months after the treatment was started.
The older you are, however, the more difficult it is to treat a nail infection and people aged 65 years and older find that oral medication is less effective when treating their fungus. While oral medications provide astounding results on their own and topical treatments work fine by themselves as well, your doctor may prescribe both together because there effects are improved when both onychomycosis treatments are combined.
If oral drugs are your only option, keep in mind that these antifungal drugs may have some side effects that range from mild to severe. These side effects include minor skin irritations, but can be as severe as damage of the liver. People with liver disease may be exempted and most doctors will not prescribe the oral medications to you; however, if oral treatment is recommended, your doctor may request occasional blood tests to keep up with your health.
Prescribed nail cream
These prescribed creams are created to penetrate the nail bed, unlike OTC medications. When being used, these antifungal nail creams are prescribed to be rubbed into the nails and affected areas surrounding the nails. To increase the effectiveness of these creams, it is often recommended that the nail be thinned to help the medication penetrate beneath the nails.
If your nails are thick and needs to be thinned, you will also need to get an OTC lotion with an ingredient known as urea. If this is not recommended, your doctor may do the work himself and debride or thin the nail with the appropriate tools.
Prescribed nail polish
A specific nail polish that is prescribed for fingernail fungus treatment and toenail fungus treatment is known as ciclopirox. This treatment is applied similarly like medicated creams; however, it is painted on to the nails and applied just as you do regular nail polish. It is applied once a day directly to the nail and affected areas. This is done for seven consecutive days and should be wiped clean with alcohol on the seventh day and a new application process begins, thereafter, for seven more days; a cycle which must be continued for the course prescribed by your doctors. This treatment may continue for up to one year.
If your infection has gotten to be so severe where other treatment options cannot cure it, your doctor may recommend that you have a surgical procedure or other invasive procedures to combat the issue. These procedures may be either in the form of a nail removal surgery, light base or laser option.
Nail removal procedure
Nail removal surgery options are used only as a last resort and is recommended for severe cases where the nail has become hard and painful. Once the nail is removed, a new nail will oftentimes, grow back in its place. However, this new nail can take up to a year to regrow; therefore, patience is needed when a nail removal surgery is done. While nail removal is effective by itself, your doctor may prescribe the surgery in combination with the use of ciclopirox, the antifungal nail polish as a way of treating the nail bed and removing any trace of the fungus that may linger.
Light-Based or Laser Treatment
While the use of these treatments is not conclusive, these treatment options may either be used in combination with other medications or by themselves. Research has proven that carbon-dioxide laser treatment, in addition to other medicated topical treatments are very effective and most of the research participants reported a change in their infection and even reported that the laser treatment was effective. Because these treatment options are still in their infancy stage, they are not, for one, covered by insurance; they are expensive; and you will not be able to get these options everywhere you go.
Nail infections are a nuisance and because they are so difficult to treat, it is advised that you begin a treatment regimen as soon as you notice or think that your nail may be infected. If you find yourself asking, how to treat finger nail fungus, it is time to start treatment. If you also wish to avoid severe treatment options, begin with a home care regimen that may either include over-the-counter medications or simple ingredients that can be easily found around the house.
These ingredients include VapoRub and other ingredients such as the ones mentioned above; tea tree oil and orange oil, coconut oil and vinegar. It is also advised that you keep the infected nail or nails low and thin to reduce pressure and possibly, pain. Ensuring that your feet and nails are completely dry is a preventive method as well as a precaution you need to take when treating fungal infections because water that gets under the nail bed can and will increase the severity of the infection.
No one likes having nail infections. They are smelly and very unattractive; therefore, if you have or think that you may have a nail infection begin treatments at home immediately or go see a doctor.