How do you treat nail fungus? A healthy and good-looking nail is a sign of health and personality. Imagine having toe nails that look thick, discolored and disfigured! Will you like them? No right? After permanent disfigurement of nails, not much can be done. Let us learn about how to prevent and treat nail fungus.
Nail Fungus- How Does It Spread?
Nail fungus is caused by a fungal infection. Sometimes yeast also causes similar problem. If you can stop this fungus reaching the insides of your nails, you have won the war against the nail fungus. How to do that? The fungus is mostly found in places, which are frequented by people mostly in barefoot. Locker rooms, poolsides etc. are such places. If you want to protect yourself fully, apply an OTC antifungal medication on your toes and then walk out in a footwear. Or apply the medication immediately after returning from such places.
Nail Fungus- Athlete’s Feet
When you develop athlete’s feet, you have got infection very near your nails. If you don’t treat the athlete’s feet immediately, the fungus will find way to enter your nails. Once the fungus enters the nail, it will spread fast.
How To Treat Nail Fungus
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How To Treat Infected Toenail
Soaking The Toe
This is generally the first form of treatment. It should be started the minute the infection is noticed. For best results, fill your bathtub with warm water, you could also use a bucket that is large enough for both your feet. Mix in a few tablespoons of Epsom salt and keep your feet submerged for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this method of treatment multiple times right through the day so your infected nail can heal properly.
Soap and Scrub
Soaking feet twice daily has benefitted people with toenail infection widely. Warm water helps to loosen the skin, around the nails, making it easier to clean and treat the area.
Wash the area with soap. This is done so as to remove the dirt, sweat and grime surrounding the infected toenail.
Scrubbing your toes vigorously helps to loosen the pressure around the infected areas. While scrubbing, ensure that you do not damage the sensitive areas. When the area is clean, the treatment penetration increases.
Prop The Nail
If you are dealing with an ingrown toenail, then this technique works fairly well. Relieve the pressure from the infected area by gently propping the nail with a small piece of cotton behind the edge of the nail. You could also use floss for the same. Avoid the usage of metal tools or utensils to push the cotton further. What this process does is to provide the infected toenail with moisture that is trapped under the base.
Remove the Excess Nail
This process entails cutting the nails craftily, so as to ensure no damage is done to the infected toe.
Firstly, Cut the infected toenails as low as possible so that you do not cause any pain to your toe.
Secondly, file the nail, but do not file too much, lest you damage the nail.
The reason for doing this is to ensure that the nail fungus that resides in your nail bed is removed. This again helps in a speedy recovery.
Infections lead to the drying out of toenails, due to the fact that they do not receive the adequate nourishment in order to keep them healthy. Applying ointment on the infected area provides a great deal of relief and also prevents the onset of an infection. What is also does is prevent the infection from spreading. Using a topical antibiotic ointment to rub on the nail will work fairly well. You can also opt to wrap the infected toe in a bandage. Any over the counter ointment is likely to heal the infection.
If your nail is causing problems such as pain and discomfort, you may speak with your GP or pharmacist. It is very likely that they will recommend treatment with an antifungal medication. This is either in the form of tablets or a special form of paint you can directly apply to the nail. A small sample of the infected nail will have to be taken and sent for testing, to make sure what kind of an infection it is. This step is undertaken to confirm that you really do have a fungal infection.
Terbinafine and itraconazole are two of the most prescribed medicines for dealing with toenail infections. They need to be taken once or twice a day for several month in order to ensure that the infection is gone completely and is unlikely to reappear. The infection will resurface if you stop medication too early. The downside of antifungal tablets is that you could develop headaches, itching, loss of taste, rashed and diarrhea.
Antifungal Nail Paint
If the idea of popping in pills doesn’t appeal to you, you can opt for antifungal nail paint instead. This can be prescribed by your pharmacist or doctor. Nail paint isn’t as effective as tablets because it is hard to penetrate through all the layers of the nail. The upside is that it doesn’t cause side effects of any kind. Antifungal nail paint has to be followed up for several weeks in order to ensure that the infection has healed.
Visit A Doctor
Visiting a doctor before the infection spreads is one of the best ways to treat toenail infections. Seeing a doctor will help you understand why and how your toenail got infected in the first place. You will also be aware of the precautions you need to take in order to inhibit a second coming. In severe cases, you will be prescribed antibiotics which is generally one of the last resorts for a toenail infection.
Your nails need to breathe. Excessive moisture or sweat creates the ideal breeding grounds for fungus. The best thing to do is to wear sandals without socks whenever possible. You can also opt for moisture wicking socks, mesh sneakers and open toed shoes. Rotating your footwear has also come in handy in the past. Always wear clean socks and shoes. This reduces the likelihood of fungal spores to proliferate. This essentially avoids nail infections on the whole.
Softening And Scraping Away The Nail
It takes quite some time for the antifungal medication to begin working. Some people opt for treatments to soften and remove infected parts of the nail. This is done over the course of a few weeks. Treatment kits are available at pharmacies. These kits contain 40% of urea paste and have plasters along with a scraping device. This urea paste helps to soften the infected parts of the nail. What this does is to allow the nail to be scraped away so it can be replaced with a healthy nail. In order to use this treatment, you have to
- Thoroughly wash the affected area and dry it thoroughly.
- Apply the paste of urea to the infected nail or nails
- The nail has to be covered in plasters which you have to leave on for about 24 hours.
- Wash the paste off the following day and try scraping off the softened parts of the nail
- This process has to be followed up for about two or three weeks.
Once no more nail can be scraped off, try using an antifungal nail paint to prevent the occurrence of the an infection. The nail will regrow gradually over the next few months.
Removing The Nail
In cases of grave severity, the affected nail might have to be removed completely. Most of the time, this is the absolute last resort, in case other treatments bear no fruition. If your nail is surgically removed, a new nail would eventually grow back to replace it. Be warned that this process could take well over a year or sometimes even more, for the new nail to regrow.
Again, laser treatment is restricted to cases that are very severe. If your nail infection is extremely severe, then laser treatment is the best. The laser emits high doses of light energy which eventually destroys the fungus. This treatment isn’t considered to be a regular treatment, simply because the other techniques work fairly well. Only if they fail, do you have to resort to laser treatment. If you want to try laser treatment, you have to try and pay for it privately. It could get very expensive because there are several sittings right through the year to be followed up.
Things To Avoid
There are certain things you must refrain from while dealing if you want to treat nail fungus. Unintentionally these things might just contribute largely to the infection instead of inhibiting it. While seeing a podiatrist is your safest bet when dealing with an infected toe, self-medication might land you in a bit of trouble especially if you:
- Cut the nail- This only worsens the condition
- Draining an infection- This might help the infection spread.
- Digging under the nail- This might be to clean the nail, but it does more damage than good.
- Rubbing coal on the toe- This has to be avoided at all costs.
Results Of The Treatment
Antifungal treatments are the most effective when it comes to fungal nail infections. 60 to 80 percent of the time it has been proven to be effective. It can take a little over six months to eighteen months for the affected nail to appear normal once again. In some cases, the nail, might not return to its former glory. If the treatment is working, you should see the appearance of a new nail from your nail bed. This should take about two or three months. The old infected nail will begin to grow out, and this can be clipped away easily. In the event of a healthy nail not regrowing, consult your GP. Use the treatment that your GP recommends and once he or she tells you to stop the treatment, do so. Remember, that if you stop too soon, the infection might lapse, occurring yet another time. Toenail infection is completely treatable. The right amount of medication and advice is what you need right through the infection period.
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