If one of your toenails is discolored, painful, or coming loose, you might have a fungal infection. Just like you get athlete’s foot between your toes, you can get a fungal infection underneath your toenail. When the nail is infected, it can take a long time to get rid of the fungus. That’s because your nail is thick, so the fungus has a warm, moist place to thrive where topical medications can’t easily reach. You have to be persistent and patient when you’re treating a toenail infected with fungus. Here are some of the treatment options you may want to try.
Over-The-Counter Topical Treatments
When you first notice your toe has a problem, try to get it under control with an over-the-counter product. You can buy polish, creams, and foot soaks that kill the fungus. Some of these have anti-fungal medications and others are natural products such as tea tree oil. If your infection isn’t too bad, you may get it under control with self-treatments. Just keep in mind, it takes about 9-12 months to grow a new toenail, so it may be several weeks or months until you notice a change in the appearance of your nail.
To have better luck with topical treatments, your doctor may shave off the top layers of your toenail. You could also try applying urea cream to your toenail. You can buy this over the counter from a pharmacy. It is sold as a skin cream to remove calluses and treat severely dry skin. When you apply it to your nails, it makes them thinner. A thin nail is easier to trim, and the medication will have an easier time penetrating the nail to reach the fungus.
When over-the-counter treatments don’t work, or if your infection causes you a lot of pain and discomfort, see your doctor for stronger medication. Your doctor may prescribe ointment or nail polish that contains anti-fungal drugs. You may also need to take oral anti-fungal medication so the drugs can get to the underside of your nail through your bloodstream. Your doctor may take a sample of your toenail for analysis to match the type of infection you have with the best medication for treating it.
Your doctor could decide the best way to treat your toenail infection is to remove the nail. This might be done if the infection doesn’t clear up or if it goes away and keeps coming back. The doctor may remove the entire nail or just the infected portion. The surgery is done in your doctor’s office after numbing your toe. Once the nail is gone, the exposed skin is treated for the fungal infection. Your nail will eventually grow back, and the new nail should be free from infection.
To lessen the risk of developing a new infection, try to make your foot environment less friendly to fungus by keeping your feet dry and wearing shoes that allow for air circulation. If your feet sweat a lot, you may need to change your socks during the day and rotate the shoes you wear, so your feet are not in damp conditions. Contact a company like Precision Laser Picosure Laser for more information.