I know, I know -- you don't even want to admit to knowing what nail fungus is, let alone admit that maybe, just maybe, it might account for that ever-yellowing grainy gook that keeps crawling out from under your toenails. Well, just in case a friend of a friend of your cousin's husband's niece's cat twice-removed ever contracts a case (wink, wink), and you need to know how to treat it, consider this your guide to getting healthy hooves.
First we need to discuss the two basic types of nail fungus treatment: there are topical treatments and oral anti-fungal treatments. The type of treatment you choose should be determined by the severity of your fungal nail infections. Let's start by breaking down your topical treatment options.
Topical treatments include nail lacquers (such as Penlac), creams (such as Lamisil cream), and many natural wonders like tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.
Want more options for natural fungal treatment? It’s always best to avoid prescription drugs whenever possible, not only to save money but also to avoid any unfortunate side effects of the drug.
The great things about topical nail fungus treatments are:
- They are available over the counter (OTC), so (attention, lazy readers!) you don't have to get a prescription.
- You run a very low risk of experiencing any serious side effects.
- They're the fast-food of medications: cheap and easy to find.
The not-so-great things about topical nail fungus cures and treatments are:
- While results vary from nail to nail, topical treatments often treat the symptoms of a fungal infection without curing them. This means that your fungal friends may reappear after you stop treatment.
- Topical treatments are like Ivy League grad schools - they often require several applications and it takes a long, long time to see the results of all your labor.
- They might dry out or irritate the skin surrounding your infected nail.
- They're smelly!!!
If, after reading that, you're still brave enough to try a topical treatment, you have several options. You can either purchase a lacquer or cream at a drug store and (*gasp*) follow the directions, or if you're a more natural nelly, try one of the following earthy alternatives. Here are some home remedies for nail fungus:
- Apple Cider Vinegar -- This cult favorite can be used in a couple of different ways.
- You can either down a shot in the morning and another before bed (that's right -- bottoms up!), OR
- You can soak your affected appendage(s) in a solution of at least 50% vinegar (the more, the better) and 50% water for 30 minutes a day. Yes, you'll be a little stinky, but people swear by this stuff.
- Hydrogen Peroxide -- Cut your afflicted nail as short as possible, saturate a cotton ball with this less odoriferous substance, apply it directly to the problem area, and let it dry.
- Vick's Vapor Rub -- That's right, wrestle it away from the kiddies! Apply it liberally to your affected nails before bed, cover with a sock or glove, and sleep tight.
- Tea Tree Oil -- Just rub a few drops into your nail at least three times a day, and watch your fungus go crawling away!
Now, for those of you who either don't believe in going au naturel, or have particularly nasty or persistent infections, there are oral anti-fungal treatments. These generally come in pill form, and usually require a prescription to obtain. Here's how to cure nail fungus with a pill.
The great things about oral anti-fungal treatments are:
- They're far more likely to cure your nail fungus than topical treatments.
- They pack a heftier punch on stubborn, lingering nail fungi.
- Again, to my lazy readers: they typically only require that you take one pill a day!
The not-so-great things about oral anti-fungal treatments are:
- As previously stated, they generally require a trip to the doc to pick up a prescription.
- They're a lot pricier than vinegar, vapor rub, and tea tree oil...go figure.
- A few unfortunate cases have reported rare, but life-threatening side effects.
So really, the best thing to do is avoid getting nail fungus in the first place. Here are a few good rules to keep in mind:
- After you get out of the shower, dry those tootsies as quickly as possible! Dry your fingers as well, although if you're using the towel correctly, it sort of seems inevitable. Fungus loves moisture, so don't let anything "air-dry."
- Wear sandals as often as possible -- ventilate those feet!
- Avoid wearing gloves -- keep your fingers exposed to air as much as possible. Yes, if it's thirty below and you're sure it's too cold for you to survive, let alone fungus, then get wild and risk it. Otherwise, try to bare those claws.
- If you go to a nail salon, you could be putting yourself at risk of a nail fungus infection. Find ways of preventing infection if you decide to visit a nail salon.
- Avoid washing dishes by hand if at all possible -- do I even need to say this? If you're washing dishes by hand, we need to have another discussion entirely. Call me. I'm in the book.
Try one of these nail fungus remedies and get your healthy nails back! Happy Healing!