The 5 Best Nail Fungus Treatments
Once fungus arrives it can be a slow and often invasive process to clear up the infection. The best nail fungus treatments can speed up the healing process and help remove the fungal infection. Since fungus usually shows up as a slight discoloration of the nails, it can fool anyone into believing the altered state of their nails is due to an inferior bottom coat of nail polish.
According to sources at the Mayo Clinic, the real telling sign is that as the infection manifests, the nail thickens and crumbles, spreading to your other nails. Although there are plenty of medical treatments available to stave off the infection, some can take up to a year to work and others are way more invasive than you may be comfortable with. Not to mention, popular oral treatments can be expensive and carry side effects as severe as toxic liver damage.
As with any medical issue, you should always seek the advice of a physician before diagnosing and treating fungal infections. According to Dr. Michael J. Trepal, DPM, Academic Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, if the nail is causing pain or growing in thickness, you should seek the help of a qualified physician. “In these cases nail pathology can lead to bacterial infections, ulcerations and quite possibly gangrenous changes.”
But, you may still opt for an over-the-counter (OTC) nail fungus treatment once you learn what products work best. Dr. Trepal advises that while there is anecdotal evidence that OTC treatments work, there aren't any definitive scientific, randomized studies that clearly show their efficacy. Starting treatment at the onset of a fungal infection gives folks the best chance at removing the infection for good. As Dr. Trepal explains to me, “The only method that definitely gets rid of [nail fungus] in most if not all patients is to permanently remove the toenail.”
Clearly, that’s an ideal solution for folks looking to keep their nails. That’s why many turn to home treatments that contain natural and synthetic anti-fungal ingredients that fight the infection. In fact, Consumer Reports found that on milder cases of fungal infections prescription topical creams work at a similar rate as popular DIY treatments like tea tree oil which has potent anti-fungal properties.
If you're looking to save your nail and you don't require a prescription, try one of the best nail fungus treatments while you discuss options with your doctor.
1. The Best Overall: Funginix Natural Toe Fungus Treatment
Recognized by the American Podiatrist Medical Association, this natural nail fungus treatment has anti-fungal ingredients that destroy infections. Using this trusty polish can help prevent the infection from spreading to other nails because it contains undecylenic acid a fatty acid that prevents the growth of fungus. Formulated with tea tree oil and clove, a potent spice with substantial anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, the thick viscosity of this polish absorbs quickly into the skin making it easy to keep up with consistent applications. As a bonus, it comes with not one but two 1-ounce bottles. One Amazon reviewer says, "This product seems to be working much better than any other over the counter product for toe nail fungus. I know it takes a long time to clear up, but I've used other products for over 2 or 3 years, with only varying degrees of success. Two things, it applies much easier and dries much faster than any other product I've used. Then the results seem to be more positive. I've only used it for about 2 months, but so far it is superior to everything else."
2. The Best Spray: Footlogix Anti-Fungal Tincture Spray Formula
If you frequent bath houses, gyms, or other places that expose you to fungus, protective measures can prevent the growth of an infection. This tincture spray contains clotrimazole, an anti-fungal medication that’s used to stop the growth of fungus and eliminate damaging hot spots on the surface. Since it’s formulated with panthenol and avocado oil, it’s going to nourish the skin around the nails which is great for folks that are in the onset of a fungal infection because it’s less likely to dry out the skin. This is a great spray to keep in your gym bag to prevent and treat nail fungus.
3. The Best All-Natural: Zane Hellas Fungus Stop Anti-Fungal Nail Solution
Clinically proven to rapidly treat fungal infections with 100 percent natural ingredients, this nail polish will give you healthy nails in just four weeks. The active ingredient that promises to kill the infection is a carvacrol which is what gives oregano its spicy flavor and potent healing properties. With powerful antioxidant and anti-fungal properties, carvacrol rapidly protects against harmful organisms like fungus. Formulated with moisturizing emollients like olive oil and almond oil, this polish is sure to kill off fungal infections without having to remove the nail.
4. The Best For The Surrounding Skin: Probelle Anti-fungal Natural Treatment Kit For Sensitive Skin
This three-step treatment is loaded with FDA-approved ingredients to fight fungal infections. The colorless, lightly-scented formula treats and protects the nails and surrounding skin with an antimicrobial solution that’s gentle on sensitive skin. It comes with an anti-fungal soap, a natural fungal liquid treatment, and a natural fungal gel to use on the affected nails. Using the three products of this kit can clear up fungus within weeks. One fan raves, "This Kit is the perfect guide to help you with fungus. The combination of the gel, the dropper, and the soap makes the process a total [success]. I had a fungus in my toe after going to a pool party and nothing that I used was helping to cure the fungus. Since the first week that I started using the probelle kit I was seeing the difference in my toe. This combination is magical. Great (f)ormula and most important gentle on the skin."
5. The Best For Itchy Toes: Soothing Epsom Foot Bath Salts
Itchy inflamed skin can be a nightmare once fungus spreads to the surrounding skin. Killing the infection while receiving soothing relief sounds too good to be true, but reviewers on Amazon are finding this Epsom foot soak to be a dream come true. Epsom salt has a unique ability to slough off dead skin while soothing inflamed skin and even fighting microbial, fungal, and bacterial infections on the skin. Formulated with tea tree oil, this foot bath is going to be a great way to stop the fungus from spreading and causing damage to the nail and skin. It comes with a nail solution that contains nourishing jojoba oil and seriously potent ingredients like camphor oil to continue to treat the infection post-bath. With nearly 4,000 Amazon reviews and a 4.6-star rating, these salts are a fantastic addition to any bath. One fan says, "After 4 weeks of usage, this cured my athlete's feet and cleared my toe nail fungus by 50%. My left foot was also aching as a result from a lot of running and wearing dress shoes for 8 hours a day. I was most impressed by this product for getting rid of that pain. Basically, I just put 3 table spoons and add 3 gallons of hot water and soak for at least 20 mins a night in a bucket."
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This post was originally published on February 21st, 2018. It was updated and republished on June 17th, 2019. Additional reporting by Amy Biggart.