It is not necessary to have crumbly, discolored and unhealthy nails forever. The fungus of the toenails is more treatable, maybe even curable, than you think. It is true that it can take a while to get rid of it, depending on the treatment you choose.
"I think there are many misconceptions that there are not many good treatments," says Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of clinical dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. "But there are very good options, I think there is good hope for almost all patients with nail fungus, even for people with serious illness."
Exactly how long it takes depends on what treatment ends up being right for your body and your lifestyle. We contacted Dr. Lipner to find out exactly what to know about getting rid of things:
Go to the doctor
Nail fungus may not be worth the co-payment, but an hour in the office of a dermatologist or podiatrist can save you a lot of time in treatment. "It may not improve if you're not treating the right thing," says Dr. Lipner.
Believe it or not, you can not guarantee that it is a nail fungus just by looking at it (or in Google to see if yours looks like the photos). Your doctor should take a sample and send it to a lab to get tested. "I see millions of nails and I still make a diagnosis by doing a lab test every time," she says. It could be other problems, such as nail cancer, nail psoriasis or even a bone tumor under the nail.
If the laboratory test confirms that it is a fungus, there are several ways to follow the treatment. "There is no one-size-fits-all approach," says Dr. Lipner. It depends on factors such as your health, other medications you are taking, your lifestyle and your willingness to stay after that. To reduce it, the best treatments require a prescription of oral medications, a lot of patience, or both. But the reward can make it worthwhile.
Find the best treatments for nail fungus.
What is it with the most popular treatments:
"In general, oral therapies are more effective than topical ones in the treatment of fungi," says Dr. Lipner. The CDC says that the first-line treatment is terbinafine (Lamisil), and that it works up to 70 percent of the time in people who still have growing nails and that their fungal cases are mild to moderate.
But it's not good for everyone. How well you adapt to it depends on many factors, including your health and what else you are taking. This medicine can have side effects, one of which is liver damage. "Can a liver injury occur? Yes, but it's extremely rare, "Dr. Lipner says," Doctors often do liver function tests before, during, and after treatment. "A second-line medication is itraconazole (Sporanox); fluconazole (Diflucan).
How long it takes to get rid of nail fungus with oral therapies: around three months. Keep in mind that the nail still needs to grow. Therefore, the fungus may disappear in a short time, but it could be a year until your nails are completely clean again.
Topical prescription remedies
There are three main topical products for nail fungus: tavaborol (Kerydin), which comes in the form of a dropper; efinaconazole (Jublia), which is a cream; and a form of ciclopirox (Penlac) that has a brush and is applied as nail polish.
Why would not you choose these first, instead of the pills you swallow? It takes about a year to get rid of the nail fungus in this way, and that is assuming that you have been very diligent in applying things every day.
The same with the home remedy of using Vicks VapoRub. "It works well on a not so common type of foot fungus, but for the one that most people have, it does not work well," she says. "I think people believe that over the counter products are safer in some way, but the reality is that they have not been approved by the FDA, they have not gone through exhaustive testing on thousands of patients. Have they been very well studied? "