Lamisil (containing the active ingredient terbinafine) is an antifungal medicine used to treat fungal nail infections. Lamisil is only available as a cream, although terbinafine can be found as tablets, gels or sprays for treating athlete's foot, ringworm and pityriasis versicolor. You can buy Lamisil from a pharmacy or supermarket. The terbinafine tablets for treating deeper fungal nail infections and other conditions are only available on prescription.
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.
Lamisil cream can be purchased to try and treat early fungal nail infections, although your doctor may recommend prescription terbinafine tablets if they think the creams are not likely to work on the fungal infection depending on severity.
Lamisil works by killing the fungus which treats the infection and symptoms. For nail infections with cream, treatment can be needed for a long time such as a year. Topical treatments such as Lamisil 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.