Toenail fungus is a common fungal disease that often begins after a foot rash has spread to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow patches that grow under the nail bed. If left untreated, the fungus can harden the nail and spread to other fingers.
"The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the toenail, and the more toenails affected, the more difficult it is to treat the toenails even with effective therapies," says Dr. Shari Lipner, board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. /Weill Cornell Medicine Mushroom often starts in a moldhealthy footbetween the toes or on the soles of the feet. At this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medications, which include onychomycosis medications. In addition to understanding the stage and severity of onychomycosis when purchasing medications, you should carefully evaluate the ingredients and type of onychomycosis treatment based on its location.
We've researched dozens of toenail fungus treatments and rated them based on the following attributes: price, drug form, ingredients, and treatment area. We also had a dermatologist from oursCouncil of medical expertsreview the content of this article for medical accuracy regarding the progression of onychomycosis and what you need to know about how to treat it.
What to look for in the treatment of nail fungus
Onychomycosis, if left untreated, can become a difficult problem to treat and will greatly affect what medication you will need. In fact, it's best not to wait until the problem becomes serious before starting treatment, especially if you hope to stick with OTC products.
"Onychomycosis is very difficult to treat, and even under the supervision of a dermatologist, it is not always possible to get rid of it," says Californian dermatologist Caren Campbell, MD. "Given how difficult treatment is, it's best to see a dermatologist as soon as possible to avoid getting worse."
Moreover, the fungus can spread to other nails and other areas of the body, adds Dr. Campbell, which is another reason why early treatment is ideal. If you notice that the fungus is spreading or your toenails have become thick and yellow, you may need a prescription product or seek help from a certified dermatologist.
dr. Lipner says onychomycosis begins like athlete's foot: "It starts with a rash on the foot and spreads to the nails," she says.
Since athlete's foot treatment is different from nail fungus treatment, attention should be paid to where on the foot the problem occurs. Athlete's foot can be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal ointments, sprays, and powders, but if the fungus has made its way under the nail or surrounding skin, says Dr. Campbell, treatment should focus on topical creams, ointments, and pastes. , ororal medications.
Zinc undecylenate and undecylenic acid are FDA-approved ingredients for the treatment of onychomycosis.Also, if you seek help from a dermatologist, they will likely prescribe medications in the "azole" family. "The compound interferes with the synthesis of the fungus cell membrane," says Dr. Lipner, which essentially kills the fungus.
One common azole medication used to treat onychomycosis is Jublia (efinaconazole). Other commonly prescribed medications include the active ingredient terbinafine, which is usually prescribed as oral or topical lamisil.
Treatment of onychomycosis can take many forms, but oral, topical and homeopathic remedies are the most common.
Oral medications have been shown to be effective, but take time to work.
"Lamisil also has the lowest side effect profile of the oral antifungals and acts as a fungicide that destroys the fungus by blocking its ability to 'breathe' or produce the oxygen molecules it needs to survive," says Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and director of OptiSkin Treatment Center in New York.
But there are a few conditions that can make people ineligible for oral antifungals. The same comorbidities, including chronic kidney failure (with dialysis) and kidney transplantation, immunodeficiency, diabetes, cancer, and peripheral arterial disease that make someone more susceptible to toenail fungus also increase the risk of adverse drug reactions . Talk to your doctor to make sure you can safely take oral antifungal medications.
However, if you qualify for oral medications, you can take a multi-pronged approach: "I prefer oral and topical medications if patients really want a chance of recovery because onychomycosis is so difficult to treat," she says. Doctor Campbell.
You can also opt for oral medication if more than one nail is affected.
"[You] can use [Lamisil] if multiple nails are involved," says Michelle Henry, MD, founder of Skin & Aesthetics Surgery in Manhattan, "because oral treatment is much more effective at removing the fungus."
Topical treatments(such as amorolfine and ciclopirox) can help treat minor onychomycosis. They cause fewer and less serious side effects. However, it is difficult for them to penetrate the nail plate, which makes the treatment longer and the effectiveness low.
"Azole antifungals, such as Jublia, inhibit fungal elements involved in the biosynthesis of key fungal elements, such as fungal cell membranes," says Dr. Markowitz. He adds that "topical therapies can be effective, but require lengthy and costly regimens with no established method of predicting outcomes." This could mean daily topical treatment for 52 weeks.
Natural preventive measures can be effective, but when fungus occurs, a research-backed, FDA-approved oral antifungal is the best choice. Garlic has antifungal properties, and when used in a foot bath, it can bring relief.
"Given that prescription topical medications require at least a year of daily use to work in only two-thirds of mild to moderate cases, it's hard to recommend a natural over-the-counter treatment," says Dr. Markowitz.
You can also try tea tree oil in combination with other, more traditional treatments, says Dr. Henry, and even with white vinegar: "I often recommend a white vinegar soak: patients [put] a quarter cup of white vinegar in a bowl and soak the nail. Once or twice a day."
Full recovery may take up to 18 months; while you wait, Dr. Campbell suggests washing your socks in hot water to prevent reinfection and using anti-fungal powders such as Zeosorb in your shoes. Keep in mind that 20 to 25 percent of treated patients do not recover from fungal nail infections.
"I always advise patients that even oral medications work [only] about 60% of the time, so it's often a chronic condition," Dr. Campbell says.
Frequently asked questions
How long should you use the drug for nail fungus?
Antifungal medications take some time to fight off the fungus. Most products recommend using twice a day for one to two weeks, but the reality is that you'll probably need to treat your fungus much longer."Nails take a year to grow," says Dr. Campbell. "Oral treatment usually lasts three months, [while] topical medications need to be used for 12 months."If you are treating ringworm at home and nothing has changed after using the product for the recommended time, consult your doctor for treatment recommendations and next steps.
Can topical nail fungus treatments cause irritation?
The active ingredients in most antifungal medications are quite strong. This means they can cause burning, stinging, swelling, irritation, redness, bumps, and other skin irritations. If this occurs during use, consult your physician. However, most people can easily use antifungal creams and gels with a healing and soothing effect.
"Terbinafine or lamisil are usually well tolerated," says Dr. Henry. "However, undecylenic acid is often contained in OTC medications [and] can cause skin irritation if used incorrectly."
Below you will find the best nail fungus remedies available on the market today.
Lamisil Terbinafine Hydrochloride Antifungal Cream 1%
Heals ringworm all over the body
Strong prescription cream
Only for mild infections
We chose Lamisil Terbinafine Hydrochloride antifungal cream as our top choice as it works for a variety of infections including onychomycosis. dr. Lipner highly recommends a prescription cream because it can treat athlete's foot before it spreads to the nails. It works by killing the fungus and preventing it from growing. If you're looking for something stronger to treat an infection, Terbinafine is also available as an oral prescription medication - the recommended treatment for more serious nail fungus.
Price at time of publication: $20
Active ingredients:Terbinafine hydrochloride |Dosage:Apply between the toes twice a day for 1 week or twice a day on the bottom and sides of the feet for 2 weeks. Add only the amount prescribed by your doctor or indicated on the package. |use:For the treatment of athlete's foot and feet, itching and mycosis of other parts of the body; relieves itching
Enriched with five skin care oils
Easy-to-use applicator in the form of a brush
Only for mild infections
It does not heal the nail plate
The antifungal antifungal nail ointment uses an innovative design to address many forms of fungal infections found on the feet. Its wide tip applicator applies to larger areas of the foot, such as the soles of the feet and between the toes. Then the smaller applicator works around the cuticles and under the nail.
When applied, the ointment of maximum strength kills fungi with the active ingredients zinc undecylenate andundecylenic acidhelp in the treatment of nail fungus. The ointment also relieves itching and burning that can accompany infection, while healing the skin. For best results, apply twice daily to clean, dry feet.
The ointment also relieves itching and burning that can accompany infection, while healing the skin. For best results, apply twice daily to clean, dry feet.
Price at time of publication: $16
Active ingredients:Zinc undecylenate 20% and undecylenic acid 5%Dosage:The applicator in the tube and brush delivers the right amount. Apply a thin layer to the affected area twice a day or as directed by your doctor. |use:Treats and prevents fungal infections; fights foot fungus and mycosis
The best hydration
Purely Northwest Foot & Body Oil with Tea Tree Oil
Relaxes muscles with Epsom and sea salt
A completely natural solution
No synthetic fragrances
Essential oils can be potential allergens
If you are looking for an all-natural way to treat toenail fungus, this foot bath may be for you. Not only is a foot soak a relaxing way to end the day, the ingredients used in the Purely Northwest bath includeEpsom salt, sea salt, tea tree oil and other oils. These ingredients soothe the skin while fighting foot and nail mycosis.
The combined ingredients have a drying effect on the fungi and prevent their spread. The benefits of soaking also include healing cracked feet and relieving pain.
Made in the USA, this product contains no artificial colors or fragrances, making it a great all-natural solution. But the results, depending on the severity, may take longer to show when the soak is used over-the-counter or over-the-counter.
Price at time of publication: $30
Active ingredients:Epsom Salt, Dead Sea Salt, MSM & Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils |Dosage:Add 1.5 tablespoons of foot soak to every gallon of water. Stir with your hands until the salt dissolves. Add extra salts for a stronger or more aromatic foot bath. Soak your feet for about 15-20 minutes. |use:Cures mycosis of the whole foot; removes the smell of food and pain
The best foot fungus treatments in 2023
The best soap
Truremedy Naturals Remedy Body Wash with Tea Tree Oil
Great for athletes and people working out at the gym
Cleans and deodorizes
It also treats acne, candida and rashes
Fragrance oils can be overwhelming
Medicated soap is another way to deal with nail fungus and other forms of fungus that can develop on your feet. Remedy Soap specifically tackles fungal infections by combining all-natural ingredients:tea tree oil, aloe vera, peppermint and eucalyptus.
Tea tree oil soothes the skin while peppermint balances the body's natural oils. Then eucalyptus works on the unhealthy skin on the feet and around the nails.
This product is intended for athletes and gym minded individuals as exercise caused by perspiration can often cause yeast infections. Remedy has created a product that is gentle enough to be used daily to cleanse the body. In addition to treating nail fungus, the soap also relieves athlete's foot, athlete's foot,groin mycosisand body odor.
Price at time of publication: $30
Active ingredients:Tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and peppermint oilDosage:Use as a standard body wash, apply and lather all over the body. Leave the soap on for 30 to 60 seconds before rinsing. |use:Cleans bacteria and fungus all over the skin; heals and helps prevent acne
The best gels and lotions to soothe sunburns, soothe skin inflammations
Penetrates under the nail bed
Tea tree and lavender soothe the skin
Guaranteed money back
Results may take several weeks
Only for foot and nail mycosis
Funginix Healthy Nail Formula uses a unique blend of ingredients to eliminate toenail fungus while healing the skin. Undecylenic acid kills nail fungus and prevents them from regrowing, while tea tree oil and lavender soothe the skin.
For optimal results, apply the solution to the cuticles and skin around the nail. This helps the product penetrate the nail bed and get rid of the fungus. Do not apply the solution like nail polish. Funginix recommends daily use of the solution and patience as onychomycosis often takes longer to heal.
The best thing about Funginix is that it offers a 90-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the results.
Price at time of publication: $24
Active ingredients:Undecylenic acid (10%) |Dosage:Apply to the cuticle and edge of each infected nail twice a day using a brush applicator. Allow the solution to absorb for five minutes. |use:Treats nail fungus on and around the feet
We found the best foot warmers for people with arthritis
The best system
Probelle onychomycosis reconstruction system in 2 steps
It both cleanses and heals
Colorless and odorless formula
Gentle on irritated skin
Probelle fights nail fungus by creating a multi-step solution that will cleanse the problem area and prevent fungal growth. In the morning, use Probelle Coconut Oil Body Wash to cleanse the area, then apply nail polish to dried nails. In the evening, apply a natural antifungal nail gel to the affected area and let it dry. Probel claims that94th placeof people in a clinical trial saw system improvement within six weeks.
The Probelle treatment system not only uses a unique combination of cleansers, polishes and gels to achieve results, but also uses coconut oil lauric esters. But the company also says more serious infections can take up to a year to heal due to nail growth time.
Customers say the formula is gentle on their skin and shows results after just a few weeks of daily use.
Price at time of publication: $50
Active ingredients:Laurin esters |Dosage:Wash with a cleanser like regular soap. Apply enough liquid to cover the affected areas, then apply the gel. |use:Heals and fights nail fungus
The best healing nail polish
Arishine nail fungus treatment
Practical applicator with a brush
Treats discoloration, brittleness and cracking of nails
Simple treatment on the go
It only works on the nail plates
The healing process may be slow
Arishine Nail Conditioner has the look and feel of a pencil. Perfect to keep in your bag or pocket while you're at work, the touch-up pen allows you to apply nail polish on your nails three times a day with ease of treatmentnail fungus problem.
The Arishina treatment uses two percent deacetylated chitin, three percent O-hydroxybenzoic acid, and Angelica dahurica as active ingredients to fight fungus and heal damage. This solution can help treat discoloration, brittle, cracked, rough and cracked nails. Ultimately, this healing nail polish can lead to stronger and healthier nails.
Arishine is made of natural ingredients and is not tested on animals. The treatment requires three applications a day and should be used for four to 12 weeks, although improvement can be seen in as little as two weeks. Arishine offers customers a Satisfaction Guarantee.
Price at time of publication: $26
Active ingredients:Deacetylated chitin (2%), O-hydroxybenzoic acid (3%) and Angelica dahurica |Dosage:The applicator automatically delivers the right amount with two to three clicks. Apply around the nail on the cuticles and under the nail. |use:Treats fungal infections on and around the nails; helps heal discolored, brittle nails
Early and frequent treatment of ringworm is important for healthy skin. If you are looking for an antifungal treatment that can solve many problems, we recommend itLamisil Terbinafine Hydrochloride antifungal cream. If you are looking for a treatment aimed at fungus under the nails, we recommend itAntifungal ointment for nail fungus.
as we chose
To find the best cure for toenail fungus, we asked four dermatologists to tell us what to look for when choosing a product - and how to know when you need to step up your game and go for something heavy with a prescription. The experts we spoke to include:
- Shari Lipner, MD, certificirani dermatolog w New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine
- Orita Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin Treatment Center in New York City
- Michael Henry, MD, founder of Skin & Aesthetics Surgery in Manhattan
- Caren Campbell, MD, a California dermatologist
They suggested a combination of oral and topical medications, especially those containing antifungal ingredients such as zinc undecylenate, terbinafine, and efinaconazole.
Armed with this information, we scoured the Internet for the highest-rated OTC drugs that make it easier to fight nail fungus (since it can takebloodtime, so you need something comfortable!). We also looked for products that hit the fungus hard at the source, such as creams and polishes, as well as soothing ones, such as healing soaks and scrubs, to keep the rest of your feet healthy while you work to revitalize your nails.
What the experts say
“The most common manifestation of toenail fungus is a white-yellow discoloration of the nail, which is thick and filled with yellow-white keratin debris. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail and the more affected nails, the more difficult it is to treat the toenails even with effective therapies.”— Dr. Orit Markowitz MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin Treatment Center in New York
Why you should trust Verywell Health
As an experienced health writer,Danielle Zoellnerknows how important it is to find the right product for your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed various medical and health experts, reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and field knowledge combine to help readers like you find the best products for your everyday life.
Additional accounts of the story were written by Jennifer Nied and Sarah Bradley
over 10 years,Jennifer Niedhas reviewed products, interviewed experts, analyzed ingredients and studied scientific research, and claims to help readers like you understand what works under certain conditions. Each product in this section has been selected based on physician recommendations, published research, and real customer reviews.
Sarah Bradleyhas been writing health content since 2017, from product reviews and disease FAQs to nutrition explanations and food trends. She knows the importance of getting sound, expert-approved advice on over-the-counter products that deal with everyday health issues, from gastrointestinal issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.
We chose the Lamisil Terbinafine Hydrochloride AntiFungal Cream as our top pick because it works to address a variety of infections, including toenail fungus. The prescription-strength cream comes highly recommended by Dr. Lipner because it can treat athlete's foot before it spreads to the toenails.How do you treat onychomycosis in 2023? ›
A combination antimycotic therapy (oral and topical) should be aspired to. Interval treatment: 400 mg daily (2 x 2 capsules à 100 mg per day [400 mg]) for 1 week, then three weeks' break = 1 pulse. Three pulses (1 week itraconazole + 3 weeks' break) or 3 months for toenail infection.What is the most successful fungal nail treatment? ›
Terbinafine and itraconazole are the 2 medicines most commonly prescribed for fungal nail infections. These usually need to be taken once or twice a day for several months to ensure the infection has completely cleared up.What is the newest treatment for toenail fungus? ›
Toenail fungus causes thickened, separating, and discolored nails. Fungal nail infections are very common . Nearly anyone can develop toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis. Laser therapy is a newer, promising treatment option for nail fungus.What is the number one cure for toenail fungus? ›
Terbinafine for toenail fungus treatment
The best pill for toenail fungus is terbinafine. Evidence suggests it works better than the alternatives with the fewest side effects. Terbinafine results in resolution of toenail fungus 76% of the time.
These drugs are often the first choice. One option is itraconazole (Sporanox). These drugs help a new nail grow free of infection, slowly replacing the infected part. You typically take this type of drug daily for 6 to 12 weeks.How do I get rid of toenail fungus forever? ›
Taking antifungal pills for two months can cure an infection under the fingernails. Usually three months of treatment cures a toenail fungal infection. Antifungal pills, however, can cause side effects. Your dermatologist will watch you closely.Has anyone cured nail fungus? ›
Fungal nail infections can be difficult to cure, and treatment is most successful when started early. Fungal nail infections typically don't go away on their own, and the best treatment is usually prescription antifungal pills taken by mouth. In severe cases, a healthcare professional might remove the nail completely.What happens if you have toenail fungus for years? ›
If toenail fungus is left untreated, it can spread to the surrounding skin on the foot, causing another condition known as athlete's foot. An athlete's foot is a condition resulting in itchy, red, and cracked skin, which can become very uncomfortable.Does hydrogen peroxide get rid of toenail fungus? ›
Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that isn't meant for killing toenail fungus. This medication is for treating cuts, burns and scrapes. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hydrogen peroxide can kill some types of fungi, such as yeasts and moulds.
Vicks Vaporub softens and lightens toenails. This makes it look like the fungus is being treated. Vicks may have some antifungal qualities, but it is unable to penetrate the toenail well enough to cure the infection. Many topical antifungal medications have this issue.How long does Vicks take to cure toenail fungus? ›
“Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up the notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months…”What kills toenail fungus the fastest? ›
The fastest way to eliminate the infection is through toenail laser treatment. Laser nail therapy specifically targets the microorganisms under your nail while leaving the keratin intact. In just a few treatments, the infection can be entirely eliminated.Why does Vicks Vaporub work on nail fungus? ›
Vicks Vaporub softens and lightens toenails. This makes it look like the fungus is being treated. Vicks may have some antifungal qualities, but it is unable to penetrate the toenail well enough to cure the infection. Many topical antifungal medications have this issue.Why is it impossible to get rid of toenail fungus? ›
As the infection progresses, nails will often become thickened, crumbly and malformed. Although the fungus affects the appearance of the nails, it actually lives on the layer directly beneath the toenail. That's why it's so difficult to treat.