How to Get Rid of Toenail Fungus: A Guide to Treatment Options
Toenail fungus affects roughly 10% of people in the U.S. After the age of 70, onychomycosis may affect 50% of people. Though rarely painful or dangerous to your overall health, toenail fungus can be unsightly, and spread to other areas of the body if it is not treated. Here’s what you need to know about causes, symptoms, and how to get rid of toenail fungus.
Toenail Fungus: Causes
Toenail fungus is caused by various fungi, and a specific mold called a dermatophyte that occurs naturally in the environment. These fungi can enter your body through small cracks in the skin due to a cut or injury. You may also develop toenail fungus from coming contact with it in locker rooms, public pools or from wearing shoes that make your feet sweat.
Although anyone can develop toenail fungus, several factors may put you at increased risk of this nail infection. Risk factors include:
- Advanced age
- History of Athlete’s Foot
- Walking barefoot, particularly in damp locations
- Medical conditions such as psoriasis that can affect the nails
- Medical conditions such as diabetes that cause poor circulation
- Suppressed or weakened immune system
- Sweaty feet
Symptoms of toenail fungus may begin as a discolored toenail. As the fungal infection progresses, the toenail may thicken or become brittle, jagged, misshapen, or crumbly. Eventually, the toenail may appear to separate from the nail bed. The toenail may also have an unpleasant odor.
How To Get Rid of Toenail Fungus at Home
If you’ve dealt with toenail fungus before or symptoms indicate you’ve developed toenail fungus, don’t panic. But you should head to the pharmacy for over-the-counter medication. Toenail fungus can be difficult to treat, so it’s best to begin treatment immediately.
The gel, spray, or cream you select will include instructions for how to get rid of toenail fungus using that specific antifungal product. Ingredients in over-the-counter anti-fungal medications that help treat fungus include tolnaftate, clotrimazole, and terbinafine (Lamisil), but they must be in a vehicle that can get it through the nail plate (most can’t!).
How Podiatrists Treat Toenail Fungus
If your symptoms do not improve, your next step is to schedule an appointment with an experienced podiatrist. Podiatrists will prescribe stronger medications to eradicate fungal infections. In addition to a topical medication such as efinaconazole or tavaborole, you may also be prescribed an oral antifungal medication such as terbinifine. Some patients may be prescribed an antifungal polish that you paint on the nail called ciclopirox.
Most people will get relief from prescription medications to treat toenail fungus. However, if the medication does not eradicate the nail function, the only other option for getting rid of toenail fungus is surgery to remove the nail. Surgery to remove toenails is rare.
Book an Appointment at Eugene Foot & Ankle
If your attempts to treat toenail fungus at home are not working, contact Eugene Foot & Ankle Podiatric Physicians & Surgeons. We are here to answer all your questions about how to get rid of toenail fungus. If at-home treatments are not effective within a few days, book an appointment at our practice in Eugene by calling 541-683-3351.
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