Archive for the ‘Nail Fungus Treatment’ Category
Home Remedies to Cure Nail Fungus
Is there any evidence that they work?
Many people suffer from onychomycosis, more commonly known as nail fungus or toenail fungus. Prescription drugs are available to cure this condition but many of them have been found to have side effects, such as Liver Damage, that can be severe. Because of this factor, people who have this condition search out alternative remedies to treat their onychomycosis. This begs the question, “Do these home remedies work? And if so, are they safe and which ones are the most effective?”
Several different home remedies have been suggested over the years for onychomycosis and other nail fungus treatment. Clinical trials have not been run on any of these home remedies; however there is anecdotal evidence that many of them do work. Sometimes it depends on the individual, or the kind of nail fungus they have, as to which remedies work and which don’t. Another factor is the ability of the remedy to get under the nail sheath and reach the infected area, which is usually underneath and in the nail bed itself. In favor of the home remedy, there is usually little to no risk of making anything worse than it already is, and these are usually inexpensive to try.
If the nail bed and lunula are affected, topical and over the counter medicines will not be effective, which also eliminates most home remedies. In these cases the only cure is an oral medication which requires a prescription from a doctor.
Remedy suggestion #1: Listerine
Listerine, a mouthwash that advertises the destruction of bacteria that cause gum disease is a very popular and inexpensive treatment for finger or toenail fungus. After all, if it destroys one kind of bacteria, why shouldn’t it be effective for getting rid of other kinds of bacteria? Ingredients in Listerine are ethanol, thymol, eucalyptol (from eucalyptus), and benzoic acid.
Standard treatment for onychomycosis using Listerine is to soak the affected area in Listerine for 10 minutes every night until the affected area clears.
Onychomycosis is caused by a few different factors. Infection from Candida is one of them, so if the Listerine can penetrate to the site of the infection, it is possible, even probable that this will be an effective treatment as Listerine has been shown to be effective against Candida. Another cause of onychomycosis is dermatophyte, which have not been demonstrated to be as negatively affected by Listerine’s chemical make-up. As the majority of onychomycosis are caused by dermatophyte, Listerine may not be effective in all cases of nail fungus as a home remedy.
Remedy suggestion #2: Vinegar
Vinegar, with its acidic environment helps to destroy the dermatophyte that cause onychomycosis. Also known as acetic acid, this remedy is made up of one part vinegar and two parts water. By soaking the affected area for 20 minutes per day, the acetic acid is able to create a less habitable climate for the fungus, thus discouraging its continued growth. Continue treatment until the affected area clears up. It is also possible that the skin around your nail will become irritated. If this is the case, treatment should be discontinued.
There has been no significant difference discovered in using apple cider vinegar vs. white vinegar nor over-the-counter remedies that contain acetic acid (vinegar) vs. using the vinegar and water mixture described above.
Remedy Suggestion #3: Vicks VapoRub
Because of the inherent make up of Vicks VapoRub, it does a better job of penetrating the nail to get to the source of the infection. This is a commonly recommended home remedy from physicians as they have seen improvements in patients who use this product. The petroleum jelly based mixture, infused with oils, such as menthol, allow for better infusion of the infected area.
Topical application is the only appropriate way to use Vicks VapoRub (after all, would you want to eat that stuff?) The “dose” is up to the applicant. The most common method of cure is to apply the substance to the affected nails and wear a sock or glove over the treatment. To prevent a re-occurrence of infection somewhere else, as fungus loves a moist environment, make certain to use a sock or glove that is 100% cotton for breath-ability.
Remedy suggestion #4: Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil, or Melaleuca Alternifolia has been found to be an effective natural anti-fungal. When applied in vitro (meaning poured into a dish, thus soaking like many of the other listed methods) Tea Tree Oil was found to discourage fungus growth in all of the common causes of onychomycosis, including Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Trichophyton rubrum, and Candida infections. Tea Tree Oil has been used in clinical trials and one of them reported a 20% cure rate while the other reported a 0% cure rate. The determining factor seems to be using 100% Tea Tree Oil instead of a diluted solution. The appearance of the nail fungus seemed to improve in people who used the 100% solution. Tea Tree Oil is recommended as a topical solution for many skin fungus conditions and has been seen to be effective in treating tinea pedis, a minor foot fungus. This is probably because the Tea Tree Oil is able to penetrate the infected area, thus reaching and eradicating the fungus.
Remedy Suggestion #5: Green Tea Extract
Camellia Sinensis or Green Tea Extract is another herbal remedy that has shown antifungal properties. When applied in vitro (in a dish) Green Tea Extract proved able to kill Candida glabrata. No one has done clinical trials with this herbal remedy so its effect on dermatophyte, and therefore onychomycosis is currently unknown.
Topical Medications to Treat Nail Fungus
There are a wide variety of treatments available to cure nail fungus. Some of these treatments are oral and some are topical. Topical treatments are available as prescription, over-the-counter and natural or alternative. Most people prefer using a topical treatment to an oral medication because the topical medication has far fewer risks associated with its use.
The topical prescription medication Penlac (otherwise known as Ciclopirox) is a relative newcomer to the U.S. market. Approved by the FDA in 1999 and in Canada in 2004, this was a wonderful improvement in the treatment of nail fungus as up until then, prescription treatments were all systemic, the regimens were long, and ran the risk of damaging the internal organs.
Penlac delivers its antifungal medication in nail polish form. The main ingredient in Penlac is Ciclopirox, a broad spectrum antifungal. This medication works via its delivery method. Because the medication is painted directly onto the affected area, it has time to penetrate the nail and deliver the necessary antifungal boost to the nail bed, which is where the fungus grows. The concept of Penlac is to kill the fungus where it lives, underneath the nail, so that the infection is permanently eliminated. This avoids the necessity of taking oral antifungal medications, which work systemically (throughout the body) and have more side effects, including possible organ damage. Application of Penlac is suggested daily to the infected nail and surrounding tissue for up to 12 weeks.
In today’s modern world, you can choose from allopathic, or prescription remedies, and natural, or homeopathic remedies. The natural remedies are frequently available at your pharmacy or online. Many products are available to cure nail fungus but one of the most effective is ClearFungus. ClearFungus is available on line and comes with a money back guarantee. The website has many testimonials available for you to read. ClearFungus is a natural fungicide and its main ingredient, combined with other natural products, work together to promote healthy recovery for your skin and nails.
The natural health market has several topical products and they usually include the same basic ingredients. The difference ends up being in the price. When looking for a natural remedy, make sure you have access to the list of ingredients, whether on the product packaging or on a website. A natural remedy should include an active fungicide and preferably ingredients that encourage healthy nail re-growth and conditioning for the surrounding skin. An excellent option for a topical nail fungicide is Tea Tree Oil, which can be purchased at any health food store and many pharmacies. If you have the option, research has shown that a spray, lacquer, or heavy ointment, are all more effective than a cream.
How you choose to treat your nail fungus infection is something that you and your doctor need to decide. If you choose to go with a non-prescription product, make sure that you do your research so that you find a product that will work best for you. Remember that natural medicine is strong and can fix many problems (as it has been doing for centuries) but that prescriptive medicine is a derivative of natural medicine as many prescription cures come from a similar chemical make-up. There are times when a prescription medicine may be necessary, especially in the case of a severe infection. However you choose to treat your nail fungus, research all possible medication interactions and side effects and keep track of anything that may occur. Because no one understands your body better than you.
Removing All of or a Portion of Your Nail
to Treat Nail Fungus – Is it Effective?
No one really knows. Little to no research has been done on removing all or part of the nail to treat a nail fungus infection. That’s because it’s sort of a last resort treatment for dealing with onychomycosis. However if you are unable to take any of the oral medications suggested for treating onychomycosis and if none of the topical solutions are effective, or if you have tried treating your nail fungus in several ways and none of them have been effective, then surgery may be an option.
Another thing to consider is if you continue to experience recurring nail fungus infections, you might need to make some dietary changes and/or do a medical cleanse to get the possible sources of infection out of your system.
How does it work?
Your options for having your nail removed are as follows:
- Complete removal – known as avulsion
- Partial removal – known as debridement
There are also two options for having these procedures done:
- Surgery – Your doctor will numb the skin around and under your nail with a local anesthetic, either topical or a shot. Then a tool will be used to separate your nail from the surrounding skin and nail bed. (Your nail bed is the skin underneath your nail. This is most commonly where a nail fungus hides and breeds.) Once the nail has been removed your nail bed and surrounding skin should heal in 2-3 weeks.
- Ointment – Your doctor will cover the skin around your infected nail to protect it (similar to taping a window or door while painting.) Then an ointment will be put on the infected nail. The infected nail is covered with a plastic dressing, which will need to be kept dry. After a week to a week and a half, your nail should be soft enough to be removed by your doctor. The exposed nail bed and surrounding skin should heal in 2-3 weeks.
After you have undergone either of these procedures, your doctor will probably recommend taking an oral antifungal medication, or putting a topical ointment on the exposed nail bed to deliver the medicine directly to the affected area.
A fingernail, once the infected portion is removed should grow back healthy within about 6 months. A toenail may take up to 18 months to grow back.
If infection continues after this procedure, your doctor may recommend completely removing the nail again and putting a chemical on the cuticle (the soft layer of skin at the base of your nail) to prevent your nail from growing back.
Does it help?
Again, no one really knows as no one has put the time and research into the effects of removing part or all of the nail to cure onychomycosis.
So far, there is one reliable study that compared taking oral antifungal medication against other types of treatment, including removing part of the nail and putting a topical antifungal medication directly on the nail bed. The results were that people who chose the oral antifungal medication were happier with their treatment outcome than people who had part of their nail removed or who used any sort of topical remedy.
Possible Side Effects?
Once your nail has been removed from the nail bed, you will need to keep it clean and dry to prevent possible further infection of the area. Your doctor may also recommend using an antibiotic cream to ensure that everything heals well and stays healthy.
Another possible problem is that the side or corner of your nail could re-grow into the skin surrounding your toe. This is referred to as an ingrown toe nail. Mild symptoms of an ingrown toenail can be treated by soaking your foot in warm salt water and then propping the ingrown porting of your toenail to encourage it to grow above the skin. A more severe ingrown toenail will require you to return to your doctor for treatment.
Koilonychia is a hereditary disorder that affects the fingernails. The nails start to get thinner and end up lifting at the outer edges, a condition more commonly known as spoon nails. This is caused by the poor absorption of iron into the bloodstream, also known as anemia.
What Causes Koilonychia?
The following are common causes of Koilonychia:
- Poor circulation
- Poor Thyroid Function
- Muscle Skinning Condition
- Universal Lupus
- Patella Syndrome
- Reynaud’s Syndrome,
- Poor health
- Iron deficiency
- Overuse of soaps and oils
Symptoms and Solutions
Koilonychia is a symptom of anemia and/or iron deficiency. It needs to be caught quickly once the visual symptoms have shown. Granted, spoon nails can also be caused by worrying the edge of the nail, causing them to detach from the nail bed and curl up. However there are many ways that Koilonychia can be prevented.
- Wear protective covering on your hands while washing dishes or immersing your hands in liquid for a long period of time.
- Don’t bite your nails as this can cause irritation and inflammation to the nail bed
- Obtain proper nourishment whenever possible
- Take vitamin supplements
- Work with your doctor to identify the cause of your anemia and supplement your diet accordingly.
- Don’t eat or drink things that cause your system to shed iron, for instance, caffeinated beverages slow down iron absorption.
- Take vitamin C and Iron supplements to increase healthy nail growing capacity.
Treatment usually consists of taking an iron supplement once or twice a day, and/or increasing the iron rich foods in the affected patient’s diet. The intestinal system may or may not allow the full absorption of the increased iron dosage, depending on the person.
Available Prescription Medication
for Fungal Toenail Infections
Antifungal medications are most commonly used to treat toenail fungus infections. These are normally oral prescription medications and unfortunately have a long list of potential risks and side effects. There are topical fungicides that are prescription strength and available on advice of your doctor. Both kinds of medication require a treatment regimen of 12 weeks for toenail fungus and 6 weeks for fingernail fungus. The length of treatment can vary with the severity of the infection.
Curing a toenail fungus infection can be very difficult and time consuming. Before you and your doctor agree on a treatment, it must be determined what kind of fungal infection you are suffering from. Once this is established, your doctor will prescribe a medication to eliminate the fungus. This is where you need to be educated and verbose. You need to tell your doctor about all of the medications you are taking, including supplements and herbal remedies. The prescriptions available to cure fungal nail infections are very hard on the system and can cause serious drug interactions.
Lamisil (otherwise known as terbinafine) is the most popular medication used to treat fungal infections. This medicine is most effective for dermatophytic infection. Lamisil is prescribed at 250 mg per day for 6-12 weeks. Another component of this medication is numerous blood tests to ensure that your liver is healthy enough to follow this regimen and that no damage is occurring during the treatment cycle. This makes this particular treatment very expensive. An initial baseline test will be done to determine your liver health before you start treatment. During treatment, your doctor will require that you visit the office and may order blood tests throughout the treatment at random, or regular intervals. This is done because Lamisil is processed by the liver and there is the potential for several rare hepatic side effects, including hepatitis, blood dyscrasias and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Following your doctor’s recommendations can protect you from serious liver damage over the course of your treatment.
Another well known antifungal used to treat toenail infections is Diflucan (or fluconazole) Diflucan is most commonly used to treat yeast infections.
Both of these medications can be found in their generic form at pharmacies all over the country for about $4.00 Numerous pharmacies, including Target, Wal-Mart and Publix offer prescription drugs at a discounted rate. Please note, you must have a doctor’s prescription to acquire these medications. If you need to take these drugs for an extended period, it may be worth the effort to research which pharmacies offer this program.
Other medications commonly used to treat toenail fungus infections are:
- Ciclopirox (commercial name – Penlac) a topical nail lacquer used to infuse the nail with medication
- Itraconazole (commercial name – Sporanox) is a newer medication and works similarly to Lamisil
- Griseofulvin is an older drug and is no longer regularly prescribed due to its lack of efficacy
- Ketoconazole (commercial name – Nizoral) although very effective at eliminating fungus, is not prescribed often because of the high risk of hepatotoxicity.
You and your doctor can work together to find the best antifungal treatment to cure your toenail fungus. The most important part of your treatment will be discouraging the growth of fungus on your own by making sure that your feet are clean, dry and surrounded by breathable materials so that you are not offering a hospitable environment. By following this simple advice, you are much more likely to find yourself fungus free at the end of your treatment.