How to treat and prevent fungal nail infections

How to Treat & Prevent Fungal Nail Infections: Is it Safe?

Fungal Nail Infections are very embarrassing and difficult to treat. Most of us have experienced nail fungal infections.

Some infections get cured on their own, only when they’re very minor. Others require immediate medical attention as once the fungi enter the bloodstream, the infection can spread to anywhere in your body internally. Hence, we must treat the nail fungus almost immediately.

Identifying Nail Fungal Infection

There are various types of nail fungus infection. Some are caused by a weakened immune system, whereas, some are caused by injuries, moisture, humid environment, bacteria and fungi buildup.

Their symptoms are often described well:

  • Discolouration of the nails
  • The foul and nasty odour from the infected nail
  • A white spot under the nail
  • Infection in the nailbed
  • Chalky powder from the nails
  • Difficulty in trimming the nails
  • Pain, redness, swelling, and inflammation around the nail
  • Rough and patchy skin
  • The slow growth of the nail and other fingernails near it

Treating Nail Fungal Infection

As soon as you figure out the type of nail fungal infection you have, you should start the treatment almost immediately.

If you delay the treatment, the fungi may penetrate the nailbed, enter the bloodstream and cause damage to many other organs. It can even lead to death in extreme cases.

There are many over-the-counter antifungal medicines, topical creams, and gels available for the treatment of nail fungus.

However, if the fungus is in the beginnings stage, you can even opt for home remedies. Since some antifungal medicines have digestive organs damaging effects, people prefer home remedies to nullify these side-effects or replace the antifungal medicines completely.

What are some of the most common over-the-counter medicines and other ways that can treat nail fungus?

Terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole are some of the most commonly available antifungal medicines. You should take them for 6-12 weeks.

  • Topical Creams:

Although oral medicines have side-effects, topical creams have almost no side-effects. You may rarely experience a burning sensation.

These creams can be used after you soak your nails in lukewarm to warm water.

Don’t apply nail polish on your nails as it can stop your nails from breathing. Use medicated nail paints instead.

These nail paints don’t allow your nails to have a lot of moisture built-in so the fungi can’t thrive.

  • Surgical Removal of Nail:

If your nail infection doesn’t get better, your doctor may plan to remove it. Once removed, it takes about 12 months or more for the nail to grow well.

  • Laser Treatment:

Some dermatologists say laser treatment can kill fungi; however, less evidence supports this. Also, it is expensive.

  • Home Remedies:

You can always try some home remedies before seeing a doctor or along with antifungal medicines to accelerate the process of killing fungi.

What are some of the most common and effective home remedies for the treatment of nail fungus?

  • Essential Oils

Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy. These include lavender essential oil, lemongrass oil, tea tree oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, eucalyptus oil etc.

You shouldn’t take them orally. Mix them in a carrier oil such as coconut and olive oils and apply topically or add a few drops of essential oils in your foot soak to clear out fungus.

  • Aloe Vera Gel

Applying aloe vera gel on your nails or simply dipping your nails in aloe vera gel solution can help reduce the antifungal activity.

It has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties.

  • Zinc-rich Diet

Zinc has been proven to help in the absorption of various nutrients and minerals. It further destroys the fungi and prevents them from multiplying.

You can add zinc-rich foods to your diet or even spray zinc oxide on the affected area twice a day.

  • Baking Soda

There are many studies that prove the effectiveness of baking soda. The paste of baking soda should be applied to the affected area twice a day or you can sprinkle it directly on dry foot.

Baking Soda foot soak has also proven to clear out fungal infections.

  • Epsom Salt

Salts have been very useful in cleansing the nails and clearing out bacteria and fungi. It can prevent the overgrowth of fungi and also helps to keep the pH of your skin normal.

How can you prevent nail fungus infections?

If you take proper precautions, you can prevent the risk of nail fungal infections.

Experts suggest going for a routine check-up every six months so your doctor can advise you what you should eat to clear out various infections.

Here are some simple ways to prevent nail fungus infections.

  • Wash your hand and feet regularly with cold as well as warm water.
  • Disinfect your nails after you trim them, do not let bacteria buildup.
  • Trim your nails regularly and don’t forget to smoothen the edges.
  • Disinfect your nail cutter/clipper after every use so the fungus doesn’t spread.
  • Let your nails breathe, do not keep them covered always by wearing shoes, socks and gloves.
  • Get a pedicure only after ensuring your beautician has disinfected the tools.
  • Do not use nail polish too often as it contains chemicals that are very harmful.
  • Wash your feet thoroughly after swimming in a public pool.
  • Avoid humid and moist environment for your nails.
  • Make sure you moisturize your nails only with gel-based moisturisers.
  • Treat injuries immediately as they may turn to fungal infections.

Conclusion

A severe infection may cause permanent damage to your nails, surrounding skin and may even reach internal organs through the bloodstream.

You may have a weakened immune system when the fungus affects you so make sure you eat a lot of Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin Bs and other minerals to strengthen your immunity.

Treat the nail fungus before it spreads as it can be difficult to treat. Also, most treatments take about a month to a year’s time to cure the infection completely.

There will still be chances of the infection returning, so make sure you maintain good hygiene and always reduce humid and moisture buildup in your nails.

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/symptoms-causes/syc-20353294

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/preventing-nail-fungal-infection

https://www.singlecare.com/blog/home-remedies-for-toenail-fungus/#baking-soda

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322895 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353300

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/otc-home-remedies-foot-fungus

https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/nail-infections.html

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