Fungal nail infections will not get better without treatment. Treating a fungal nail infection can take a long time, and it is important to say that treatment is only necessary if the person is bothered by the look or feel of the nail. Here Caidr's pharmacists walk you through the options available.
A fungal nail infection can also infect the skin (or vice versa), so often goes hand-in-hand (pardon the pun) with athlete’s foot, a fungal infection between toes and on the soles of the feet. If this is the case, you should get this treated at the same time as your nails. Your pharmacist can help in the first instance, suggesting an antifungal nail cream or lacquer, and a nail softening cream. Be warned, it’s a long game and aims to remove the infected nail or halt the spread of infection until it grows out. Athlete’s foot, and to a lesser extent fungal nail infection – can spread by sharing towels, bed linen, shoes and nail clippers or scissors. You should wear shoes or sandals in communal areas such as changing rooms, especially if the floors are warm and moist. Keep feet well-aired and avoid shoes that make them feel hot and sweaty. Try to keep your nails as short as possible.
There are specific treatments for fungal nail infections that are available at the pharmacy in the form of fungal nail lacquers. These come in various types from applying once a week or applying daily for the first month. Either way, treatment time is 6 - 12 months and commonly won't work without other treatment methods alongside. Nail lacquers have the best chance of working if they are started at a very early stage.
If the base of the nail bed (known as the lunula) is affected, or if you have more than a few fingers and toes affected, it may be worth speaking to your doctor for prescription based treatments with a course of antifungal tablets for a few months instead. Your doctor will likely ask you to take nail clippings to confirm the diagnosis before considering you for anti-fungal tablets. Again, treatment is a long game – at least 3 to 6 months, and you may need to repeat some blood tests to check on your liver along the way.