Have you ever tried to fight nail fungus? Fungal infections of the toenails are common, affecting one-fifth of middle-aged people and about half of those over 70. This condition can be hard to overcome. While toenails are more frequently affected, fingernails may also develop fungal infections at times. Nails with fungus are thick, yellowed and unsightly. How can you take care of this problem?
Is Jublia the Best Way to Fight Nail Fungus?
Q. I caught nail fungus at the gym and I can’t get rid of it. A prescription for Jublia didn’t work. Neither did laser treatment.
Now my podiatrist has suggested surgically removing the nail. That sounds scary. Is there any other way to get rid of this fungus?
A. Instead of surgery, your podiatrist could prescribe a 40% urea paste that will dissolve the fungus-affected nail in about a week. This approach was pioneered in Russia and brought back to the US in 1978. (You can read more about it here.)
The 40% urea cream is a prescription product. It may need to be prepared by a compounding pharmacy. When it is applied twice daily, this medicine attacks fungus-infected keratin that forms the nail. It does not seem to damage healthy nail.
What to Do After the Nail Is Removed:
Once a nail has been removed, whether by surgery or through the use of urea paste, it is important to keep the area free of fungus while it grows out. Feet should be kept dry as well as clean.
You may also need to apply a topical anti-fungal medication to the area during the months it takes the nail to grow. Efinaconazole (Jublia) might work for this, but a less expensive antifungal cream such as ketoconazole or terbinafine could also prevent re-infection.
Can Home Remedies Help?
There are also many home remedies that may be helpful at a reasonable cost. They include cornmeal foot soaks, Vicks VapoRub, tea tree oil, oregano oil or Listerine-vinegar foot baths. Tea tree oil and oregano oil have impressive antifungal activity. In fact, oregano oil fights yeast (a type of fungus) better than some antifungal drugs such as clotrimazole, fluconazole and itraconazole (Journal of Applied Microbiology, Aug. 29, 2016).
Vicks and Listerine both contain numerous oils derived from plants that appear to fight nail fungus. Vicks was recommended as effective and safe for treating nail fungus in people with HIV (Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Jan-Feb, 2016).
Patience Is Crucial:
You will find more details on nonsurgical nail removal and fungus fighters in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care. Keep in mind that toenails grow slowly, and you must use any medication, essential oil or other remedy for the entire time to have them overcome the infection.