What is Onychomycosis Treatment?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Onychomycosis is a common cause of finger and toenail discoloration. In some cases, the fungus responsible for the infection can lead to thickening and disfigurement of a nail, possibly resulting in pain and inflammation. Onychomycosis treatment is recommended, even when an infection does not cause physical pain, in order to prevent the fungus from spreading. Doctors generally suggest that people with onychomycosis seek professional medical advice before trying to treat infections on their own. Most infections can be managed with oral antifungal medication and topical creams, but severe cases may require surgical care.

A podiatrist or primary care doctor can inspect a nail and collect a sample scraping to confirm the presence of a fungal infection. After determining the nature and severity of the condition, he or she can explain different onychomycosis treatment options. If the infection is limited to a small surface area of the finger or toenail, a topical solution containing ciclopirox may be the only treatment needed. The solution is usually applied in the doctor's office after the nail is sterilized, and a patient may be prescribed a vial of the solution to reapply at home.


Most cases of onychomycosis affect a larger area of the nail, cuticle, and underlying nail bed. Since topical creams are not be able to penetrate deep into nail beds, additional onychomycosis treatment is often needed. Oral antifungal drugs containing itraconazole or terbinafine are usually very effective at eradicating nail fungi in a matter of weeks. Patients typically need to take medications daily for up to 12 weeks to ensure that fungi are completely gone.

If a nail becomes painful or loose due to a severe fungal infection, a doctor may recommend a combination of oral, topical, and surgical onychomycosis treatment. A surgeon might choose to remove the affected nail by chemically peeling it off or manually cutting it from the base. After removing the nail, the underlying bed is treated with topical ointment and dressed with a bandage to protect it from injury. A patient usually needs to avoid using the hand or foot as much as possible until the nail grows back, which may take several months.

After successful onychomycosis treatment, it is important to take preventive measures against a recurring infection. A person can protect toenails by wearing moisture-resistant socks and shoes and avoiding going barefoot in public places. Hands should be washed regularly and gloves should be used when doing dishes or performing housework. In addition, it is essential to keep nails trimmed and clean to lessen the chances of a new infection.



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