Last updated: August 10, 2021

Do you have nail fungus and don't know how to treat it? You don't know whether you should use an ointment, tincture or tablets? Or do you prefer to fight nail fungus with home remedies? Here you will find all the answers to these questions!

We inform you about treatment options for nail fungus. Furthermore, we provide you with the most important information you should know about nail fungus.




The most important information

  • Nail fungus is an extremely contagious fungal disease of the nails. It is also called onychomycosis.
  • Nail fungus can be treated externally with varnishes, tinctures and ointments. Internal treatment with tablets is also possible, but this is only done in cases of severe infestation.
  • The treatment of nail fungus takes a long time and is only considered cured when the nail has grown back completely healthy. For this reason, the treatment must be carried out consistently.

The Best Nail Fungus: Our Picks

Definition: What is nail fungus?

What is nail fungus? Nail fungus is a fungal disease of the nails, also called onychomycosis. It affects the fingernails or toenails. The disease is usually caused by filamentous fungi. However, in rare cases, the cause can also be yeast or mould. The fungal disease causes the nail to turn slightly yellowish or brownish. Furthermore, the nail can become brittle or the shape can change. Nail fungus usually occurs together with athlete's foot. Often, the nails of the big toes are affected. If the fungus is not treated, it can spread to the other nails.

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Nail fungus is usually caused by a fungal foot infection. (Image source: Pexels / Pixabay)

However, nail fungus can be treated well. It can now be treated both externally and internally. There are special varnishes and tablets. External treatment is recommended, however, because it attacks the fungus directly. The treatment takes time, however, because nail fungus is stubborn.

Background information: What you should know about nail fungus

Do you think you have nail fungus? Before you buy a nail fungus remedy, you should first read the background to make sure that it is nail fungus.

How do I recognize nail fungus?

There are many symptoms of nail fungus. However, it starts when the nails lose their shine. The nail fungus also usually starts at the front edge of the nail. This is the beginning of the fungal disease. You should take it seriously and fight it right at the beginning. If the fungus progresses, pain may occur and the treatment will take longer. As the fungus progresses, more symptoms appear:

  • Brittle nails and splitting off of individual layers
  • white stripes/ spots
  • white - yellowish-brown discolouration
  • Thickened nails
  • inflamed nail bed

Especially people with a weak immune system, should seek treatment as soon as possible. If not treated, the fungus can spread to other areas!

Why does nail fungus form?

Fungi are the cause of nail fungus. There are three different types of fungi that are responsible for nail fungus. The filamentous fungus is responsible for a total of 80% of nail fungi. In the following table you will find the three fungi and the frequency of infection.

Fungus frequency of infection
Filamentous fungus predominantly
Mould fungus rarely
Yeast fungus very rarely

The fungi target the horny substance of the skin, hair and nails. If these are minimally injured, the fungus can settle there and spread. But where does the fungus come from? There are skin fungi everywhere, they are mostly fungal skin flakes that humans have lost.

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Many fungi lurk especially in swimming pools. (Image source: StockSnap / Pixabay)

Of course, there are also external sources. These include swimming pools, saunas and even shoe shops. Fungi love a warm and humid climate, this is what they find in swimming pools and saunas. In shoe shops, fungi have been found in shoes that have been tried on.

When trying on shoes, always make sure to use the try-on socks, so you can avoid a fungal nail infection!

A bathroom is also a popular place for infection, as the humidity and warmth are ideal for fungi. If you have been diagnosed with nail fungus, we recommend that you wash all your textiles at 60 degrees!

How do I treat nail fungus?

Nail fungus can be treated. There are different ways to treat nail fungus. Most of the time, it depends on the severity of the infection. It is advisable to consult a doctor about the treatment. Most medicines contain antimycotics, which kill the fungus or try to inhibit its growth. Varnishes, tinctures, ointments, tablets and capsules are available for treatment.

Varnishes, tinctures and ointments are used for external application and can be used when the fungal infestation affects the superficial nail layers. However, if the fungus is advanced, it is recommended to use tablets. The following table shows all dosage forms, duration of application and their active ingredients.

Dosage form duration of application active ingredient
Varnishes, tinctures up to 6 months Amorolfin, Ciclopirox
Ointments up to 3 months Urea, Bifonazol
Tablets and capsule 3 months Terbinafine, Itraconazole, Fluconazole

To find the right preparation for you, you should seek medical advice. That way you are on the safe side. You should also bear in mind that it takes time for the active ingredient to penetrate the cuticle. Fungi have a long time to survive, it can be weeks, months or even years. Therefore, you should use the preparation regularly and until your nail grows back healthily.

Can I also use home remedies against nail fungus?

Many people use home remedies to fight nail fungus. These are usually always in the house and are much cheaper than the preparations against nail fungus. Home remedies such as vinegar, medicinal plants and tea tree oil are often used.

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Many people like to treat their nail fungus with home remedies. (Image source: Louis Hansel / Unsplash)

However, there are hardly any studies that prove that home remedies help fight nail fungus. For this reason, we recommend using home remedies as a support in addition to treatment with preparations. However, if only home remedies are used to fight the fungus, there is a high risk that the fungus will develop further and infect other nails or parts of the body.

When should I see a doctor?

At first, you can treat the nail fungus yourself, if it is still in the early stages, with anti-fungal medication from the pharmacy. However, if you do not treat the fungus, there is a risk that it will spread to the nails and skin. If you do not notice any reduction after 2 weeks, it is time to see a doctor. First you should see your family doctor, if the infection is more advanced, he or she will refer you to a dermatologist.

Furthermore, you should see a doctor directly if several nails or the whole nail is infected by the fungus. Diabetics should consult a doctor directly in case of nail fungus and not treat themselves! The doctor will take a sample from the affected nail and have it examined to rule out other diseases and to determine the type of fungus. Once the type is determined, the medication will be adjusted. If it is an advanced infection, he will probably prescribe tablets.

Who is susceptible to nail fungus?

The following groups have a higher risk of catching nail fungus:

  • People with a weak immune system: The immune system is responsible for fighting fungi, viruses and bacteria and thus protecting the body. People who have a weak immune system do not manage to fight against it and are therefore more susceptible to nail fungus.
  • People with diseases like diabetes or psoriasis: Diseases like diabetes and psoriasis, weaken the immune system and the skin of the affected person. These conditions make it easier for fungi to invade the skin.
  • Elderly people: With age, the immune system weakens and the skin becomes drier, this is ideal for nail fungus.
  • Athletes: Athletes sustain some injuries, depending on the sport. This is the perfect entry point into a person's body for fungi, which usually lurk in the locker rooms.

Some groups are more susceptible to nail fungus than others. This is because the body usually cannot fight the fungus well or because of their living conditions.

How long does nail fungus treatment take?

Treatment is a long process that requires a lot of patience. This is because nail fungus is only considered cured when the nail has grown back healthily. It also takes time for the active ingredients of the preparations to penetrate the various layers of the nail. Fingernail fungi heal in about 6 months, while toenail fungi take 12 months to heal completely. For this reason, it is important to follow through with the treatment consistently and with a lot of patience!

Treat nail fungus: The best tips & tricks to treat nail fungus

With the following tips and tricks, you can successfully treat your nail fungus. It is important that you persevere and do not lose patience. You will also find general tips on how to prevent nail fungus!

Treat nail fungus with home remedies

Home remedies are very popular for treating nail fungus. They are cheap and usually already included in every household. We recommend that you do not treat nail fungus exclusively with home remedies, but use them as a support. The following home remedies are often used against nail fungus:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Tea tree oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Baking soda

Note that the effect of home remedies against nail fungus has not been scientifically confirmed! The individual home remedies are discussed below.

Apple cider vinegar

The acidic substance of apple cider vinegar is said to kill the fungus. For this purpose, a foot bath is recommended, whereby the vinegar is mixed with water. Or you can apply the mixture to the affected area with a cotton swab several times a day.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is often used against nail fungus. It is said to prevent the fungus from growing and to kill it. It is also well-tolerated. You should rub the affected area with tea tree oil 3-4 times a day. A foot bath is also possible. Note, however, that tea tree oil has a strong odour of its own.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice is also said to help against nail fungus. You will need fresh lemon juice. Apply it to the affected area with a cotton swab in the morning and evening. It should be applied for several weeks.

Baking soda

Everyone has baking soda in the house, so this treatment is very common. The baking soda is supposed to dry out the fungus and should therefore be applied after showering. For application, you should mix the baking soda with water until a sticky liquid is formed.

Treating nail fungus with medication

As mentioned above, you can treat nail fungus with different medications. You can buy many of them without a prescription at the pharmacy. You can also buy some in drugstores. However, you can only get tablets with a prescription. A distinction is made between the external and internal treatment of nail fungus.

External treatment

External treatment of nail fungus is done with varnishes, tinctures or ointments. These are available in drugstores, but also in pharmacies. We recommend that you buy these products at the pharmacy. External treatment is used for mild fungal infections or for fungal infections in the early stages. It is applied directly to the affected area.

Internal treatment

If the infestation is more advanced and very stubborn, it must be treated internally. Your doctor will prescribe tablets for this purpose. These are only available on prescription and cannot be purchased over the counter. Taking the tablets will fight the fungus from the inside. However, you should still use the polishes. The combination is ideal for combating nail fungus.

General tips to prevent nail fungus

Most of the time, nail fungus develops from athlete's foot. Therefore, foot hygiene plays an important role in the prevention of nail fungus. You should take the following tips to heart if you want to prevent nail fungus:

  • Always dry your feet well: After every contact with water, for example, showering, swimming or even bathing, you should dry your feet well.
  • Wear good shoes: Footwear is also very important for prevention. You should not wear shoes that are too small, they should be airy and comfortable.
  • Don't wear the same pair of shoes too often: To make sure your shoes dry well after a day, we recommend that you change your shoes regularly.
  • Change socks regularly: This is very important. Make sure your socks have high cotton content.
  • Wear slippers: Fungi lurk especially in swimming pools and saunas, so always wear slippers.
  • Do not share shoes/socks/towels: Always use your own clothes, this way you are less likely to catch it.

With these tips, you can avoid nail fungus and the lengthy treatment or even re-infection!

Conclusion

You can treat nail fungus yourself. After you have diagnosed nail fungus, you should not hesitate to treat it. The fungus can quickly develop and spread to other nails. It can also spread to the skin. Basically, you fight the fungus externally with medication, but if the nail fungus is very advanced, you will also need internal treatment.

Your doctor will prescribe tablets for this purpose. It can take a long time for the nail fungus to disappear completely. Therefore, you must remain patient and consistently follow through with the treatment.

Picture source: 123rf / 88674830

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