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How do I Choose the Best over-The-Counter Nail Fungus Treatment?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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Usually, the best over-the-counter nail fungus treatments contain antifungal ingredients and come in nail lacquer form. You may also get results from over-the-counter remedies that contain herbal treatments, such as tea tree oil. Some people also report that topical ointments that contain camphor may help. Unfortunately, however, many over-the-counter nail fungus treatments fail to get rid of nail fungus completely, so a person may get better results from prescription medication.

Among the best over-the-counter nail fungus treatments are antifungal nail lacquers that can be painted directly on the affected nail. Usually, you use this type of treatment by painting it on the affected nail every day until a new nail grows in that is free of the fungus. Most over-the-counter nail fungus treatments of this type also include instructions for painting a little of the lacquer on the skin immediately surrounding the affected nails. This may help prevent the spread of the fungus.

Many people also assert that they see results when they treat nail fungus with over-the-counter concoctions that contain tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is an herbal remedy that is said to have virus-, bacteria-, and fungus-fighting capabilities. It is derived from the tea tree plant and has long been used in alternative medicine. If you prefer a natural remedy to a drug treatment, you may buy tea tree oil and drip or paint it on the affected nails. Alternatively, you may use an over-the-counter nail fungus treatment that contains tea tree oil as one of its ingredient rather than using tea tree oil alone.

Though it is not intended for this purpose, some people find that topical ointments that contain camphor are helpful for treating nail infections. If you opt to try this, you may apply it liberally to clean, dry nails right before you go to bed at night. Then you may cover your hands with gloves that provide good airflow and absorb moisture, or if the fungus is on your toenails, you can cover your feet with white cotton socks. Some people also rub the ointment on their feet and hands for a softening effect.

While over-the-counter nail fungus treatments are usually safe, you cannot predict how your body will react to them. As such, you may do well to seek a medical professional’s advice before using over-the-counter treatments and home remedies. Additionally, you may protect your skin and overall health by discontinuing the use of these treatments if you develop irritation or side effects.

It is important to note that while there are over-the-counter nail fungus treatments, they often prove ineffective. Even those that seem to improve a case of nail fungus often fail to get rid of it completely. Instead, you may get better results by seeing your doctor for an evaluation of your nail condition and requesting a prescription treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By Raynbow — On Aug 30, 2014

I like to use pure tea tree oil on mild nail fungus. I apply it at night before bedtime to give it time to work. It seems to help keep minor fungal infections from spreading, however a stronger medication is probably needed for more serious nail fungus issues.

By Spotiche5 — On Aug 29, 2014

@rundocuri- I have been through the same thing trying to treat my nail fungus, and I have found that if the issue hasn't resolved itself after 3 rounds of treatment, it's time to see the doctor.

Red, flaky, irritated areas around the nail, discoloration of the nail, and a nail that looks as if it is peeling or lifting off the finger or toe are all signs that the fungus is not going away. If over-the-counter treatments do not correct these problems after using them for a while, a prescription medication from your doctor should do the trick.

By Rundocuri — On Aug 28, 2014

Sometimes it is hard to tell if an over-the-counter nail fungus treatment is working. Often they seem to improve the symptoms of nail fungus, but they return when you stop using them. It makes it confusing to know when to stop using them, and when to see your doctor for treatment. Has anyone else had this experience when treating nail fungus?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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