Toenail Fungus Medicine Basics- Understanding Toenail Fungus Infections
Toenail fungus, onychomycosis, is a common fungal growth that is caused by the foot’s perspiration within socks and shoes. The fact that the toes usually have less blood flow than the fingers increases the chance of fungus on toenails more than fingernails. Walking barefooted in communal pools or bathing areas increases the chances of getting a toenail fungus along with a weakened immune system.
Signs and Symptoms of Toenail Fungus Infection
Toenail fungus may cause the nail to discolor, thicken, or crumble. Nails may become distorted in shape or dull in appearance. If you have a toenail fungus, the affected toenail may put off a foul odor. The nail may separate from the nail bed, a condition known as onycholysis. If left untreated, toenail fungus can lead to pain that will interfere with standing or walking. The infection can even spread to the surrounding toes and the rest of the foot. If you have a weakened immune system, a toenail fungus infection can cause complications. Fortunately, these symptoms can be treated by medicine for toenail fungus medication, and the availability of toenail fungus medicine has increased in the last few years. These medications come in different forms.
Oral Medication for Toenail Fungus
If you’re toenail fungus has become painful or is discomforting in appearance, you can ask a doctor about a prescription for toenail fungus. The two most common medications that are prescribed for toenail fungus are terbinafine and itraconazole. Terbinafine and itraconazole both come in tablet form that is taken orally. Terbinafine has been proven to work more effectively than itraconazole.
This toenail fungus medication is generally taken once a day for 3 months. You are to take it with food. You need to ensure to tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking when discussing a prescription of either terbinafine or itraconazole because of possible interactions. You should also tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Possible side effects of these drugs could possibly include: upset stomach, rash, itching, loss of taste, diarrhea, loss of appetite, constipation, vomiting, or fatigue. Itraconazole has more reported side effects than terbinafine. You should consult your doctor if you experience anything unusual while taking this medicine. Your doctor may also schedule routine blood tests to monitor your interaction with these drugs.
Length of Cure
If you are taking these medications, it may take up to 6 months for the fungus to be cured. This is because the drugs work by stopping the spread of the fungus. It does not eliminate the fungus that has already grown. The old fungus is removed as your nail grows. Therefore, it takes up to 6 months for the fungus you already have to grow out and get cut off as part of your hygiene practices.
Other medications are being used experimentally to treat toenail fungus infections. These medications include fluconazole. Instead of a daily tablet, fluconazole is taken weekly for 12 weeks at a larger dose than that of the daily dosage for itraconazole or terbinafine. Fluconazole is thought to be more effective than terbinafine because of its ability to penetrate the nail bed. The use of fluconazole for the treatment of toenail fungus is recent, and the FDA has not labeled the drug for such usage, yet.
Oral Medications As the Best Option
While these drugs take a long time to take effect, they provide the best chance at curing a toenail fungus infection. Even with these medications, there exists the possibility for the fungus to return. There is an 80-89% chance of effectiveness. Even with this probability, oral medications present the best option for curing toenail fungus, but may not be the best option for everyone suffering from a toenail fungus infection. This is especially true if you’re already taking other medications or suffer from other conditions that may make taking oral antifungal medications disadvantageous.
Topical Medicine for Toenail Fungus
In addition to oral medications for the treatment of toenail fungus, your doctor can prescribe you with topical treatments, as well. These treatments generally come in the form of a nail polish or a topical cream. While topical toenail fungus medications have been proven to not be as effective as oral medication, the side effects of topical treatment methods have been reported to be less severe that oral methods. Most often, topical treatments are not prescribed alone. Instead, they are prescribed in addition to oral medications or after oral medications to ensure that the fungus doesn’t return. For patients that have adverse side effects with oral antifungal medications or are currently taking other medications that react adversely with oral antifungal medications, topical treatment may be the only option.
Softening the Nail
With either the nail polish or the topical cream, the toenail will probably need to be softened to help the treatment to work better. Softening the nail will allow the medication to reach the nail bed easier. A common ingredient in nail softener creams is urea. The nail is thinned either by the use of an over-the-counter lotion or your doctor can thin the nail with a file. If you’re brave enough, you can file the nail down yourself.
Drugs Found in Topical Creams
As for topical creams, they usually contain efinaconazole or tavaborole. The cream is usually applied once daily for 3 months. Just like the oral medications, you’ll generally see results in 6 months. Side effects include burning, itching, redness, or pain where applied. Another possible side effect is an ingrown toenail. These creams are flammable and should not be used near flames. Do not smoke while applying the cream to the infected toe. The best time to apply the cream is right before bedtime since the cream has to dry before putting on socks or shoes. Also, the cream requires 8 hours before getting wet, such as bathing or swimming. Before applying the cream, ensure that the toenail is clean and dry. You should not use nail polish while using a topical cream to treat toenail fungus.
Speak with Your Doctor
As with oral toenail fungus medication, discuss your medical condition with your doctor before using a topical toenail fungus cream. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, want to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. List all medications that you’re taking for your doctor. Even with the risks associated with the topical treatments being minimal, you must remember that these treatments use prescribed medications. You don’t know how your body will react to them.
Prescribed Nail Polish
Another topical toenail fungus treatment is the use of a prescribed nail polish. This polish generally contains the drug ciclopirox. You apply the nail polish daily to the affected toenail. The nail polish needs to last for 8 hours just like the cream. Each day, you apply a new coat of the polish on top of the previous day’s application. At the end of the week, you remove the polish with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Then, you remove any part of the damaged nail by trimming and filing the nail. Unfortunately, using this treatment takes about a year. Possible side effects include irritation, rash, discoloration of the nail, or ingrown toenail. When consulting your doctor about the use of prescribed nail polish, share with your doctor any medications you’re taking, if you’re pregnant, wish to become pregnant, if you’re breastfeeding, or any known allergies that you have.
Prevention from Re-infection
To keep treated toenail fungus from returning, wash your feet regularly. Let them dry completely before putting on socks. Use socks that absorb moisture. Get rid of old shoes. Spray antifungal spray in your shoes to reduce fungus that may be breeding in your shows. Keep your nails trimmed properly. Don’t go barefooted in public places. Doing these activities can help keep toenail fungus from returning once it has been remedied.
The probability of the fungus returning is high, especially if preventive measures haven’t been taken to lessen this probability. The process for curing toenail fungus infection is timely, and you don’t want to waste those efforts. After spending the time it takes to remove toenail fungus, you don’t want it returning.
It May Take Time, But There Are Options
Prescribed toenail fungus medication may take time to cure toenail fungus, but having a toenail that is free from fungus will be worth the time it takes to treat the infection. Having toenails that are free from infection is important in feeling relaxed and proud enough to have bare feet in public. Aesthetics aside, having a toenail fungus can be painful, making wearing shoes uncomfortable.
Get Rid of Your Toenail Fungus
There are toenail fungus treatments available by prescription. If you think that your toenail is infected by fungus, your toenail exhibits the signs of fungus infection, consult your doctor about possible treatment options. Discuss the various options with your doctor to find a treatment that is best for you. You don’t have to suffer from toenail fungus any longer.