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Does Over-the-Counter Toenail Fungus Treatment Work?

It’s nearly always sandals season in Florida, but are funky-looking toenails causing you to feel self-conscious and keep them hidden? 

If you notice that one of your toenails is discolored, crumbly, thickened, or even has a strange odor, you could have toenail fungus. You should know that it’s a common problem, affecting up to 14% of people in the United States.

The risk of developing toenail fungus increases with age, and people who are immunocompromised, live with diabetes, or who have poor circulation are also more likely to be affected.

A problem with toenail fungus is that it’s stubborn;  it can recur even after you’ve cleared it up. Many products on the market aim to treat toenail fungus, but how successful are they in truly clearing it up? 

No matter what type of foot or nail problems you’re dealing with, the dedicated team at South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers is here to help. We build trust with our patients, listen carefully, and create customized treatment plans that match your unique needs.

Toenail fungus: An unsightly nuisance

We’ve talked about the unpleasant and quite obvious symptoms of toenail fungus, and it’s enough to make you want to stick your feet in the sand — or otherwise conceal them — forever. 

If left untreated, toenail fungus can spread to other toes and even to other people through sharing nail clippers and other personal items like towels, as well as in public places like locker rooms and pool areas. 

Unfortunately, as a fungal infection entrenches itself in your nail, it can cause your toenail to actually lift away from the nail bed. 

When you visit your South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers podiatrist, they can carefully examine your nails, assess the severity of your fungus if they suspect one, and even take sample toenail clippings for testing to learn the specific type of fungus.

Are over-the-counter toenail fungus remedies at all successful?

Many over-the-counter (OTC) products promise to treat toenail fungus, including: 

These products are available in stores or online, but studies show that even though they may improve the appearance of your toenail, they typically don’t eradicate the fungus because they don’t get to the root of the problem. 

There’s also a lot of discussion about using products that contain tea tree oil or applying Vicks VapoRub® to fungal nails to treat them.

The biggest obstacle to success with OTC antifungal treatments and home remedies is that they don’t penetrate the nail or nail bed, which is what’s needed to put an end to fungus.

Podiatrists have also long prescribed oral antifungal medications, but they have risks since they can cause concerning side effects, such as skin rash and liver damage. 

Laser treatments

There’s hope if you’re struggling with nail fungus, however. We offer an effective antifungal nail polish and innovative laser treatment for fungal nails. The difference with laser treatment is that it employs intense light that actually irradiates your nail.

Laser fungal nail treatments have exploded in popularity because they’re:

Laser treatment halts the growth of the toenail fungus so your healthy nail can grow out, which takes about 6-9 months. Expect to see changes in your nail at about the three-month mark, though. 

After you receive treatment, we make recommendations about how to prevent your toenail from getting infected again. It’s important, for example, to change your socks daily, wear shoes that fit and aren’t too tight, wash your feet daily and dry them thoroughly, and use an antifungal foot powder. 

You should always be sure to wear flip-flops in the locker room as well, and never share nail clippers or scissors with others.

Get your feet in tip-top shape by calling the South Florida Foot & Ankle Centers office that’s most convenient for you, or book an appointment online. We’re located in Royal Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Palm Beach Gardens, and Belle Glade, Florida.

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