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Fungal Toenail (Onychomycosis)

About 50% of toenail disease is caused by a form of fungus. Prevention is simple and the best treatment of all.

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that primarily affects toenails.

It thrives in warm, moist environments such as the inside of a shoe, and once transferred to its host, can easily spread from nail to nail. Poorly maintained or injured toenails are particularly susceptible to Onychomosis and damp, tight-fitting socks can help it spread. Once it takes hold, toenails can become discolored, brittle and cracked, and if left untreated, separate from the nail bed.

Treatment Options

Detected and treated early, even classic home remedies such as a footbath in a mixture of vinegar and other natural household ingredients can have some effect on Onychomycosis. Otherwise, there are treatments that are more likely to eliminate the fungus deep within and below the nail:

  • Topicals. Highly effective topical treatments penetrate the nail to kill most of the fungus and provide a protective coat on the nail to prevent further infection. Tea tree oil is also thought to have antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Oral medications. Though effective, many leading pills require 12 months of treatment with regular blood tests to monitor liver function.
  • Lasers. This method has shown great potential neutralizing and eradicating fungal cells that have shown resistance to topical and soaking treatments.

In the end, the best treatment for fungal nails is prevention. Keep your nails cut straight across, your feet dry and well-ventilated. For more information about fungal nails, refer to our onychomycosis FAQ. If you develop toe fungus, a foot and ankle expert can identify your best treatment options.

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