Protecting Your Feet

3 Approaches to Treating Toenail Fungus

In most situations, toenail fungus is an aesthetic issue that can cause your nails to become discolored, thick, and brittle. If you are trying to achieve clear nails, there are several ways to kill the fungus and return to normal-looking nails.


Ointments for toenail fungus can range from self-care to prescription-strength medications. A popular self-care strategy is to use vaporizing/medicated chest rub on the affected toenails. You will need to use the product at least daily until the healthy nail grows out. Prescription ointments work in a similar way, but will not necessarily work faster. The main challenge with toenail fungus is that you not only need to kill the fungus, which lies in the nail bed, but toenails grow slowly, so it seemingly takes forever for the treatment to work. Sometimes having the affected toenail removed, then treated can make the process easier since the medication will go directly to the source of infection. If you have thickened toenails, there is little point in trying ointments since they will not be able to penetrate the nail.

Systemic Medications

Systemic treatments are oral antifungal medications, which can be ideal if you have many toenails affected by fungus. Due to the slow growth of toenails, systemic treatments also take time to work. Some people are not candidates for systemic treatment because they have underlying health issues that either could cause or worsen liver problems or they have vascular disease. Poor blood flow to the extremities means the medications will not reach the target area and would not be effective. Before starting a systemic treatment, your doctor will want blood tests to check your liver function, and you may need additional testing throughout treatment to keep a check on your liver enzymes. If you are not good at remembering to take daily medications, this treatment may not be ideal for you.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy tends to be one of the best options in the treatment of toenail fungus, but it is less commonly used, often because it may not be covered by insurance. Typically, the laser is used for a few minutes each month, and you may have three or more treatments. The short treatment duration and minor time commitment make laser therapy ideal for most people. Additionally, since the fungus is killed at the source of infection, it is also a better option for people with other medical conditions that would otherwise be excluded from treatment. Most people experience complete destruction of the fungus and clear nails after one treatment cycle.

Regardless of the treatment method, it is important to take precautions against reinfection. Toenail fungus is notoriously easy to catch, but difficult to eliminate. If you are experiencing toenail fungus, reach out to a foot treatment center near you.