Fungal nail treatment is used to clear up fungal infections affecting the nails. Treatment may involve using a topical medication, taking an oral medication, or undergoing surgery. Topical medications can treat minor fungal infections of the nail where only part of the nail is infected. However, once the fungus covers the whole nail or spreads to other nails, it becomes more difficult to treat and topical medication alone may not suffice. Oral medications are often effective, but they are also expensive and can have serious side effects. Oral medications are often more effective when combined with surgery, as this can treat the infection more quickly thereby reducing side effects. However, surgery is usually performed as a last resort when topical and oral medications have proven unsuccessful.
Reasons for fungal nail treatment
Fungal nail treatment is important in order to:
Get rid of the fungal infection.
Prevent the infection from spreading to other nails.
Reclaim clear, healthy nails.
How fungal nail treatment is administered
Fungal nail treatment may involve topical medications, oral medications, surgery, or a combination of these.
Over-the-counter and prescription topical medications usually need to be applied to the affected nails once or twice a day for at least six weeks. It is important to keep using the topical solution until the infection has cleared completely to keep it from coming back.
If topical medication isn’t effective, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication to be taken once a day for three months. However, the medication is expensive and can have serious side effects including liver damage, so it should not be taken longer than necessary.
Surgery is usually only considered in severe cases when topical and oral treatments haven’t been successful. However, it may also be recommended for those who can benefit from oral medication but are at a higher risk of suffering side effects such as liver damage. For such individuals, surgery can help minimize the length of time one needs to take medication and thereby limit the side effects.
Surgery is usually performed under local anesthetic and involves removing the affected nail completely. This means that the nail won’t grow back. Instead, the skin will harden and form a protective layer where the nail once was. Following surgery, topical or oral medication is usually prescribed for a few weeks to destroy any remaining fungus and prevent the infection from recurring. Recovery typically takes two to three weeks.