How Do You Treat a Fungal Toenail Infection?

person's feet on top of verandra
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Fungi thrive in damp, dark spaces, which means that your feet, specifically your toenails, are particularly susceptible to fungal infection. A fungal toenail infection occurs when any kind of fungus, such as yeast and mold, penetrates your nail bed due to repetitive trauma or a break or cut in your toenail, and then penetrates the toenail itself. The most common warning signs of a fungal toenail infection include a thickened, crumbly, and discolored (dark white, brownish, or yellow) toenail.

What to Do if You Have a Fungal Toenail Infection

While a fungal toenail infection does not always cause pain, it might get painful when the infected toenail thickens and pushes down into your skin. If you suspect you have an infection, you need to consult your local dermatologist in Cottonwood Heights. Different kinds of fungal infections require slightly different treatments, so you need to know which specific fungus you have. Depending on what kind you are infected with, your dermatologist may prescribe one or a combination of the following.

  • Prescription topical medicines – These include efinaconazole, which has been found to be 50% effective when used every day for a minimum of a year. There is also ciclopirox, which has been found to have a success rate of 20% when used for about a year, too.
  • Trimming the infected toenail – This is typically combined with prescription medications. However, making certain that you trim your toenail properly will help make the medications work more efficiently.
  • Oral prescription drugs – The most commonly prescribed oral medication is terbinafine, which you should take daily for at least three months. However, it could have serious adverse effects on the liver, so if you have a high risk of developing liver disease, have a history of liver disease, or are on any other meds that pass through your liver such as maintenance meds for controlling your cholesterol, you cannot take this. You may be prescribed itraconazole instead.
  • Removing the infected toenail – There are basically two options for this, permanent or temporary removal. With permanent removal, your toenail will never grow back, ever. While with temporary removal, you could let your toenail grow back eventually. Be warned, however, that in some cases, the fungus also comes back with the nail regrowth.

doctor removing the infected toenail of a patient

  • Laser therapy – Although laser removal options are available for treating toenail fungal infections, they could be very costly and are usually not covered by insurance. In addition, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warns that more studies are needed to determine whether laser treatment is an effective and safe treatment for fungal toenail infections.

It is crucial to note that some fungal toenail infections are tough to treat and will not go away. But if you are patient and follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan, you have a higher chance of eliminating it. In addition, take note that individuals who are suffering from diabetes have a higher risk of developing complications from fungal toenail infections, so tell your doctor if you have diabetes before starting your treatment plan.

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