Every toenail fungal infection needs to be addressed differently and as soon as possible. Depending on the extent and severity of the toenail fungus, there are various ways and means to cure and heal the unwanted issue. Treatment ranging from home remedies to medications to laser treatment under the guidance of a medical practitioner is available to own those healthy toes.
Toenail fungal infection has guaranteed prescription treatments but the side effects are many a times more severe or even detrimental than the original problem. Drugs are often prescribed which has to be taken orally or applied topically and both causes equal long term side effects to our body.
Drugs like Terbinafine which are frequently used for the treatment of toenail fungal infection often lead to severe side effects. Side effects like, liver impairment, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, itching, dark coloured urine, extreme fatigue, depression and a few more severe problems which turn out to be bigger than the problem itself. Over and above the side effects, Terbinafine is contraindicated in pregnancy and nursing mothers.
The patient also has to keep the doctor informed beforehand about the existing medication for impairment of kidney, liver, HIV, depression if any. Thus in cases where the toenail fungal infection is still at a nascent stage, it is recommended to cure it by using home remedies, over the counter medications and other natural processes, thus avoiding prescription treatments and there myriad side effects.
Laser and light based therapies are often used for the treatment of toenail fungus. Because of it’s quick procedure time and cost effective process many have opted for Laser and light based therapies. In a laser treatment, the laser emits high doses of a certain light which is helpful in killing the fungus at the affected area.
Along with the advantages of opting for laser treatment, comes a few disadvantages. The disadvantages being, it is not an assured and a guaranteed process for a complete removal of toenail fungal infection and one has to wait for long for the new nail to grow completely healthy and devoid of fungus.
In case of stubborn cases, a repeat process is required for the removal of toenail fungus and the last concern being, in most of the countries, laser treatment for toenail fungal infections are not reimbursed by the insurance companies.
Home remedies have been widely used and accepted since ages throughout several parts of the world. A few home remedies have shown excellent results, while many are not guaranteed to show results for acute or chronic toenail fungal infections. Most of the times, home remedies are inappropriate as per the severity of the fungal infection.
As compared to modern medicines, which are measured and have been tried and tested over controlled environment for proven efficacy. Modern medicines come with a detailed instruction, contraindications, do’s and don’ts. Whereas in case of home remedies, the dosage, side effects and limitations are not mentioned anywhere and are all at a level of word to mouth.
Herbs, if not identified properly can turn out to be really harmful, as some wild herbs resemble commonly used herbs, which might cause toxicity to our body. Home remedies are not standardized, thus the quantity of the herb used, dosage per use and many more questions remain unanswered.
Many home remedies, especially essential oils like cinnamon oil, coconut oil can get messy when applied on the toenail as very little oil remains at the affected site and most of it gets absorbed in the skin and the surroundings. People practising alternative therapies, have to sooner or later take resort to modern medicines, because most of the severe cases is untreatable by home remedies.
There are several prescription anti-fungal medications which are used for the treatment of toenail fungal infections. As compared to home remedies, anti-fungal medicines are fast acting and provide quick relief.
Though with a strong and effective action, comes an equally strong set of side effects one has to weigh the effects vis a vis the side effects and opt for the treatment accordingly. They can be divided as oral antifungal drugs, medicated nail polish and medicated nail cream.
Oral anti-fungal drugs are generally prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner. These oral anti-fungal medicines attacks the fungus present at the toenail and helps grow healthy toenails. The drugs help the body in strengthening the immune system of the body and hence fight the foreign body, in this case the fungus. The duration for healthy toenails to grow might take anywhere between 6 to 12 week’s time.
The anti-fungal drugs are prescribed as per the severity of the fungus keeping in mind the medical history of the patient. Most of the oral anti-fungals are contraindicated in various conditions like pregnancy, lactation, patients who are currently on medication for kidney and liver impairment, on anti-depressant drugs and HIV patients.
The commonly used anti-fungal drugs used for toenail fungal infections are, terbinafine, ketoconazole, flucanozole, griseofulvin and itraconazole. These drugs are available only of prescription and are available under the name of different brand names.
Medicated nail polish prescribed by doctors can be applied at the affected toenail and the skin around it twice daily till the fungal infection disappears. Antifungal nail paints are commonly used nowadays by doctors because of it’s safety on long term use.
The nail polish is to be applied twice a day on the affected toenail and the skin around it. It can be applied for as long as a year without much worry.
One should apply medicated nail polish continuously for a week and then remove the layers on the 8th day for a repetition of the process for a week again. Repeat the entire process till the fungal infection disappears and new nails re-grow which are clean and healthy. Medicated nail polish is considered to be quite effective with very little or no side effects unless ingested or used for a longer duration.
Medicated nail polish has been a choice of treatment especially for people on the move who have very little time for applying messy creams and lotions to remove toenail fungus. Medicated nail polishes are available in a few select colors or transparent.
Medicated nail cream are anti-fungal nail creams which is to be applied topically on the affected area post cleaning it with warm water. It yields higher results when applied on thin nails. Doctors help in thinning the nail by filing them and getting them ready for using medicated nail creams. Medicated nail creams are found to be effective as they work directly at the affected area and has fewer side effects unless ingested or over used.
Results of medication from anti- fungal, drugs, anti-fungal creams, anti-fungal lotions, medicated nail polish differs from person to person and depends on the severity of infections. Prescription drugs generally require anywhere within 6 to 12 weeks for a complete treatment for growing new and healthy nails devoid of any fungal infection.
In many cases where the toenail infection is very severe and deep-rooted, may require a repeat dosage of another set of medication either in the form of tablets, creams or medicated polishes or a combination of all.
Only when an acute toenail fungal infection case remains untreatable by drugs, creams and lotions, one has to opt for surgical removal of the affected part. Depending on the age and various other conditions of the patient a new and a healthy nail grows, devoid of any fungal infection.
There are several DIY treatments available for toenail fungus, which have been followed and practiced by several people worldwide. DIY treatments for treating toenail fungal infections are very common because of the ease of use, as it can be performed at the comforts of our home at a time that suits us.
Treatments for toenail fungal infections range from baking soda, apple cider vinegar, oregano oil, coconut oil, crushed garlic, tea tree oil and more. DIY treatments are often done as topical application, while a few needs to be consumed orally on a regular basis for a holistic approach. White vinegar foot bath is one of the highest used DIY remedy to treat toenail fungal infection, though the results and recurrence of the toenail fungal infections are unknown. Similarly a paste made of baking powder and borax can be applied for a dual action to first kill the fungus and then keep it sterile from further recurrence.
Though DIY treatments are highly used, the results are not very guaranteed and satisfactory most of the times. It is a known fact that DIY treatment is a long term treatment and the duration for a successful treatment is still to be answered by many. Many lose patience mid-way and often get de motivated due to the prolonged use of DIY. In the bargain what happens is that the toenail fungal infection increases and the person ends up running to a medical practitioner for immediate relief.
People worldwide spend a few million dollars every year in procuring over the counter medicines to treat toenail fungal infections. But most of the times, the result is not satisfactory, ever wondered why? Every toenail fungal infection case is different from the other, because there are several types of fungi causing toenail fungal infections. Only a person with a trained clinical eye can differentiate one toenail fungal infection from other toenail diseases with similar symptoms.
There are several types and forms of over the counter medications available for the treatment of toenail fungal infection. There are spray, cream, powder, lotion and ointment for toenail fungal infection in the over the counter segment of treatment. Many a times, over the counter medicines do not work on a specific toenail fungal infection because toenail fungal infections have been classified into different segments and every segment needs a different set of treatment.
Depending on the segment and the severity of a toenail fungus, a medical practitioner would recommend drugs taken independently or in combination with other topical applications. Over the counter medications for toenail fungal infections are either too mild for a few infection cases or are very generic, thus doesn’t help in treating specific fungal infection cases. Thus one needs to have adequate scientific and physiological information before using over the counter medicines for a specific toenail fungal infection.
To avoid and to prevent recurrence of toenail fungal infection in future, one needs to follow certain habit forming acts and adhere to hygiene. For example, wearing a pair of fresh socks every day for work, changing socks and shoes on regular basis as and when they wear off to avoid infections of various kinds, washing feet with soap and warm water twice daily every time we return home after a bare foot outdoor activity, trimming toenails on regular basis, avoiding rubber and plastic footwear, choosing a spa or a salon which is safe and clean, keep your feet dry during the monsoon and moisturized during the winters, avoid woollen, nylon or other synthetic socks and having enough oxidants and free radical scavengers in the diet for healthy toenails.
Enough emphasis should be laid on avoiding chemicals on the toenails which are harsh on our nails and skin. Nail polishes and cosmetic nail products rob the nails and it’s surrounding from precious enamel and moisture and makes it more prone to infections and other toenail conditions.
Gone are the days of thickened yellow and painful toenails, here comes a pair of happy feet with bright and shiny toes ready to don any foot wear. Unveil your toes with pride, those shiny and healthy toes to your friend’s envy.
Dr. Soumya Podduturi is an Aesthetic Dermatologist, Dermatologist, Dermatosurgeon, Trichologist, Pediatric Dermatologist, Cosmetologist with 8 Years Experience