If it’s your first time with toenail fungus, know that once it takes hold, this infection is stubborn and challenging to eliminate. Unfortunately, over-the-counter medications are often not up to the challenge.
Toenail fungus affects up to 14% of the general population, which explains why there are so many over-the-counter products. Unfortunately, many of these products are long on promises but short on results.
To shed some light on the challenges of treating fungal toenails, our team of podiatry experts here at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle pulled together some important points about treating the issue with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
What does toenail fungus look like?
Toenail fungus starts small — a white or yellowish spot appears on your nail. Quickly, this white spot grows, and your nail thickens and becomes brittle, often crumbling away. The edges of the nail can become ragged, and the nail itself may lift away from the nail bed, causing discomfort. In some cases, the affected nail might emit a foul odor.
At this point, the fungal infection is likely in your nail bed, well below the surface of your toenail.
Failing to get below the surface
The over-the-counter products available for toenail fungus are topical, which is why many of these treatments are ineffective.
If you start treatment at the first signs of a problem, an OTC topical solution may help. These medications typically contain one of the following ingredients:
- Undecylenic acid
These medications treat the fungus on the skin around your nails and the surface of the affected nail, but they don’t get into your nails or reach your nail bed.
Addressing nail fungus where it counts
Treating the fungus where it lives is essential, which we can do with prescription oral medications. These antifungal medications take a systemic approach and kill the fungus in places where topical ointments can’t reach. These medications have 63%-76% cure rates.
For milder cases of toenail fungus, we offer stronger topical medications than OTC options, which come in brush-on formulas, including nail polish.
In severe cases of toenail fungus, OTC products won’t help. In fact, we may have to remove the nail to eliminate the fungus.
Whichever approach is best for you, treating toenail fungus always takes time and patience. Even after the fungus is eliminated, healthier toenails still need to grow out, which can be a slow process and take up to a year.
To treat tough toenail fungus, contact one of our 14 locations in Tennessee to make an appointment today.