With the weather getting warmer and summer approaching, we kick off our boots and shoes for warm weather footwear. The flip flops, sandals and bare feet are making a comeback. BUT don't let fungal toenails stop you from enjoying the approaching summer weather. Fungal toenails, also known as onychomycosis, is a fungal infection under the nail and in the nail bed. The fungus lives in everyone's shoes likes the dark moist environment. Simple dropping something on your foot or the nail lifting up because they are too long, can allow the nail fungus to get under the nail and infect it. Unforntunately, it is easy to get and difficult to get rid of. Despite this, there are several different treatment options available.
The oral medication which is the most effective can have liver side effects. The liver must be tested prior to usage of the oral medications and during treatment. The oral medications include Giseofulving, Lamisil and Sporanox. For this reason, the oral medication is not always the first line of treatment.
The topical medications can be effective and safe alternatives to the oral medications. However, just any antifungal cream will not work because it has to be able to penetrate throught the nail plate in order to destroy the nail fungus.
One active ingredient to look for in a topical treatment is Tolnaftate, an antifungal drug. It has been placed in an oil based solution which allows the medication to penetrate through the nail unlike other over the counter preparations which are either water or alcohol based.
Other ingredients in treating onychomycosis are tea tree oil, Vick's VapoRub TM and vinegar. Tea Tree Oil is a natural antifungal agent that in the right formulation can rid the fungal infection. Camphor is the main ingredient of Vick's VapoRub TM. There are three major fungal species responsible for causing fungal infections and camphor has been shown to be effective in one of these three infections. Vingear, also known as acetic acid, changes the pH of the toenail and can kill the fungus under the nail. It is reported to have good nail penetration but be careful with this ingredient as it is an acid and can be corrosive.
Laser treatments are also being used for nail fungus. Certain laser companies have been FDA approved for short term resolution of nail fungus. Unfortunately, most insurance companies are not covering this procedure and it be costly.
As with all treatments, the treatment for nail fungus can take many months. Be patient. These treatments can be effective but they can take 6-12 months of treatment. Also for successful treatment treat your shoes with an antifungal spray to reduce the amount of fungus to prevent reinfection.
Dr. "Sandie" Grulke