How to Get Rid of Fungus on Toe Nails
Spring is in the air, in spite of the six inches of snow outside, we are looking forward to a long hot summer. It's time to dig out those sexy shoes and sandals, time to uncover and show off those gorgeous legs; but wait, what is going on with the toenails? Yikes!! The dreaded nail fungal infection.
While not life-threatening, fungal nail infection or Onychomycosis can be unsightly and embarrassing, it can also have an adverse effect on our quality of life. People who suffer from fungal nail infection will often avoid activities such as swimming and other sports that may require the use of a communal changing rooms.
Fungal nail infection is one of the most commonly occurring dermatological conditions. Studies show around three in every hundred people in the UK are affected by fungal nail infection and up to 20% of American adults are suffering from this condition.
The amount of new cases of fungal nail infection appears to be increasing; this is thought to be as a result of factors such as increasing prevalence of diabetes in the population, more frequent incidence of immunosuppression and an aging population. Fungal infection causes about half of all nail problems.
The condition usually affects adults; becoming more common as we get older and is four times more likely to occur in the toenails than fingernails. The infection can involve all or part of the nail including the plate, bed and root.
What Causes Nail Fungus
Several types of fungus can cause fungal nail infection. Athlete's foot is a fungal skin infection that affects the skin between the toes, causing it to become red, flaky and itchy, spreading to the toenails.
Candida is a yeast that can cause infection of the skin around the nails, often the fingernail. Candida yeast infection is commonly found in occupations that requires a lot of hand washing, or where the hands are in water a lot. Fungi thrives in warm moist environment, some of the factors that increase the risk of fungal nail infection are;-
Wearing shoes that cause hot sweaty feet, such as trainers, or being in a humid environment
Regular damage to the nail or skin
Ill health or particular health condition such as diabetes or psoriasis
A weakened Immune system
Poor general health
Using artificial nails
Consistent nail biting
Living in warm, humid climate
Symptoms of a Fungal infection
The most common symptoms of fungal nail infection are in the appearance of the nail. Nails become thickened and discoloured, appearing white, yellow, black or green, as the disease progresses, the nail can become brittle and crumbly with pieces of nail breaking off and the shape distorted, in some cases falling away from the nail bed completely.
The fungal infection is often initially painless, and generally, do not cause further complications. However, If left untreated, although rare, it can cause pain, the skin underneath and around the nail bed can become inflamed with yellow patches or scaly skin.
Get rid of Toenail Fungus
Treatment is not always needed if the infection is mild, but left untreated; the infection can spread to other nails. Clipping of the affected nails may be tested to find out the exact cause of the disease and to rule out other conditions.
The removal of fungal nail infection should be done in a way that is safe, effective and permanent. The condition can be treated and eventually cured. However, some types of treatment can take several months to work. The main treatment options are anti-fungal tablets or anti-fungal nail paint.
Antifungal tablets is a very successful treatment; it allows the medication to reach the nails through the bloodstream. The two most commonly prescribed oral medication for fungal nail infection are terbinafine and itraconazole. These drugs can be useful but there is a potential for minor to serious side effects, and even if the treatment works, the infection may return.
In patients where the infection has been treated successfully with antifungal tablets,15% to 20% gets another infection in the next year, out of 100 people, who take the oral medication 15 to 20 will get another infection in the next year and 80 to 85 will not.
Side effects includes:-
- liver and kidney failure
- Weaken the heart's ability to contract, leading to heart failure
- Cause dangerous side effects when combined with many different common medicines
- During treatment with oral antifungal medication, blood test may be required to check liver and kidney function
Loss of sense of taste
Medication may have to be taken for several months to ensure that the infection has completely cleared.
Stopping the treatment too early may result in the infection returning, oral medication have the added advantage that they will also help any other associated fungal skin infection such as athlete's foot simultaneously. For those who prefer not to take oral medication, antifungal nail paint may be used instead.
Antifungal Nail Paint
Instead of taking oral medication to treat fungal nail infection, an anti-fungal preparation can be painted directly on the affected nail, when applied like a nail varnish the drug kills the fungus that is causing the infection. The antifungal drug stops the fungus growing; it should eventually die to allow the growth of the new healthy nail. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much research available in the UK on antifungal nail paint.
Currently available oral medication for nail fungus is thought to have a cure rate of around 40%. Topical treatment such as nail paint are considered safer than oral therapy but have a lower cure rate. However, there is now a third option, Laser therapy
Cold Laser/ Low-Level Laser Therapy
Low-level cold laser therapy is described as cold because it does not rely on heat; it is said to be the most effective, fastest most advanced and safest treatment for fungal nail infection. Laser treatment is new and controversial, and the result varies in clinical practice, but there has been no adverse reaction or side effect.
Laser treatment involves the shining of a light beam through the affected nail, the beam of light kills fungus by reacting with the cell wall but leaves surrounding healthy tissue unharmed.
Laser treatment is offered by specialist clinics and can be rather pricey since this treatment is considered to be aesthetic; health insurance plans do not cover it. However, laser treatment is said to have no side effects; there are no age or health restrictions or limitations.
The procedure has a success rate of over 80%. Following laser treatment patient should notice results within 2 to 4 months, depending on how quickly their nails grows.
The new clear nail will appear as the infected portion grows out. It takes about 8 to 12 months for the nail to grow completely out.
Fungal Infection Home Treatment
Many people swears by various home treatment for fungal nail infection, here are some that are tried and tested:
- Tea tree oil- this oil is extracted from the Australian tree, Melaleuca alternifolia. The oil is known to be effective in treating viral, yeast, bacteria and fungal infection. The oil can be easily applied to the infected nail using a cotton ball. A few drops of tea tree oil added to the bath water can be beneficial for feet and skin care. Before commencing treatment, it is advisable to get a diagnosis from doctor or health care provider.
- Vinegar- with its antiseptic and acidity properties, white vinegar makes an environment that fungus are unable to grow in.
- Coconut oil- studies shows evidence of the healing properties of coconut oil for skin conditions. Coconut oil is abundant in lauric acid that contain antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties
- Oil of oregano- studies shows oil of oregano fights Candida without any side effect
- Neem Oil- has an anti-fungal action and enhances the look of brittle fingernails with its moisturizing and nourishing properties.
- Sea Salt- An inexpensive way to treat Fungal nail infection
- Baking Soda- highly alkaline and can help to balance the PH levels and inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus
- Lemongrass Oil- have antibacterial and antifungal properties