How to get rid of nail fungus

April 09, 2018 | by Nina Lundberg, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Have you noticed your fingernails or toenails starting to look a little different?

If you get a fungal infection under your nails, you might not notice at first.

Slowly, you’ll see changes such as:

  • Your nail or part of it will turn brown, yellow or white. The color will slowly spread across the nail if the fungus isn’t treated.
  • You’ll notice the nail lift or curl and thicken.
  • Your nail will seem dry and may split or get crumbly.
  • The infection may spread to more than one nail, if not all.

Nail fungus isn’t painful in the early stages. If left untreated, it could progress to cause pain or discomfort, especially when the nail is pressed inside a shoe.

Timely treatment is important, as it will keep the fungus from spreading and will make it more likely for the treatment to successfully clear the infection.

There are two options when it comes to treatment: medicine you apply to your nails like polish or cream and medicine you take by mouth.

The medicine you take by mouth is the more aggressive option and delivers quicker results, though it comes with more side effects and risks, such as liver damage. You typically take antifungal pills for 2-3 months, and you may need regular blood tests during that time to check for problems.

The topical treatment could take up to 12 months to clear the infection. Sometimes both treatments are used together.

If the fungal nail infection is recurring, severe or painful, your doctor may suggest surgical removal of the nail.

Your primary care physician or a dermatologist or podiatrist can recommend the best course of treatment for you.

The best plan, of course, is to avoid nail fungus. Taking some precautions could help you stay fungus free:

  • Wear flip flops when walking in warm, moist areas like locker rooms, spas and pools.
  • Wear clean, dry socks. If they get wet or sweaty, put on dry ones.
  • Use antifungal powder in your shoes.
  • Cut nails short and straight across.
  • Sanitize your nail clipper before using it. Wash it with soapy water, then swipe with rubbing alcohol.
  • Don’t share nail clippers.
  • Make sure your feet are clean and dry before you put on clean, dry socks.
  • Use moisturizer on dry skin. It prevents cracking, which can provide an entry for fungi.
  • Take care of athlete’s foot right away, as it can spread to your nails.

Your primary care doctor can help you manage chronic disease, find the best specialists, and catch health issues early. Find a doctor and schedule an appointment online.

The dermatologists at Edward-Elmhurst Health have specialized training and state-of-the-art tools to help you with every kind of skin, hair and nail condition. Learn more.

Find a foot care specialist.

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