How to Maintain Healthy Nails After Fungal Treatment

Fungus is present on everybody’s nails, but it only becomes a problem when it starts to cause damage. After successful treatment, the fungus gradually fades away and is replaced by healthy nail growth.

The best fungus treatments are prescription topical products, such as efinaconazole (Jublia) and tavaborole (Kerydin). These require daily applications, and it may take a year before the fungus disappears.

Wash Your Feet

Practicing good foot hygiene is the best way to prevent future fungal nail infections. Wash your feet with soap and water every day, especially between the toes. After washing your feet, dry thoroughly. Fungi thrive in damp areas, so keeping your feet clean and dry is key to avoiding infection.

It’s also important to change your socks often and wear shoes made of materials that breathe, such as leather or suede. Avoid tight-fitting shoes and choose acrylic socks instead of cotton, which can keep your feet from breathing. If you go to a nail salon, be sure to ask for an antifungal polish and toenail clippers that are cleaned and sanitized frequently.

You might get a prescription-strength antifungal polish or cream to apply directly to the infected nails, which contains a medication like ciclopirox. The medication works by causing the infected nail to die, and healthy new nail growth grows in to replace it. This takes time, and some people need a year or more before their infected nails are completely replaced with new healthy ones.

You can also use home remedies for your fungal nail treatment such as a diluted vinegar soak to soften the nails before applying another antifungal treatment. The acetic acid in the vinegar can help kill fungus and provide relief from itching and pain. Use the soak daily and always thoroughly dry your feet and toes afterward.

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Soak Your Toes

Keeping your feet clean and dry can help prevent fungal nail infections. If you do get one, a good home treatment is to soak your nails in white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The acetic acid in the vinegar can reduce (but not cure) fungus, and it may also kill bacteria that cause the greenish discoloration. Fill a basin with two parts water and one part vinegar, and soak your toes twice a day for about 20 minutes. If you don’t have vinegar, you can use baking soda instead.

If you’re not comfortable using the vinegar, consult to a podiatrist at Doubleview Podiatry to prescribe an antifungal nail treatment like Lunula Laser to treat fungal nail infections, polish or gel that you paint on your nails. These products usually contain a drug like ciclopirox or terbinafine. They are most effective for surface fungus, and it can take up to a year before you see results. Your doctor may trim your nails and file away the affected areas to thin them, which can help the medication penetrate the nail bed better.

You can also apply a topical tea tree oil ointment to infected nails. This can be diluted and applied directly with a cotton swab or nail brush, or added to your foot soaks. Consistent use can be as effective as other treatments.

Change Your Socks

After fungal treatment, you need to keep up with the basics of good nail hygiene. You can do this with over-the-counter antifungal polishes that are applied to your nails with the same brush as traditional nail polish. They may improve the look of discolored nails, but they will not cure a fungal infection. If you choose to use them, it is important that your nails and feet are clean and dry — especially between your toes. You should also trim your nails straight across to prevent the fungus from spreading to other nails. You should also wash and sanitize your clippers, files and scissors with rubbing alcohol.

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Fungus infections are more likely to affect toenails than fingernails because fungi thrive in warm and moist places. This is why it’s important to wear shoes that allow your feet to breathe and to avoid socks made of materials like cotton that retain moisture. If you have to wear tight shoes, try to alternate pairs often and put on fresh socks every day. You should also throw away old shoes and slippers that may contain fungi. You can use a shoe sanitizer or an ozone cabinet at home to disinfect these items.

Nail fungus can take 4 to 6 months for a fingernail and up to 18 months for a toenail to grow out completely and be replaced by healthy nail growth. To help you speed up the process, it’s a good idea to treat yourself with an oral antifungal medication. These drugs can significantly increase the chance that your nails will clear up and not return.

Trim Your Nails

Whether you have a nail fungus or not, keeping your nails short and clean will help keep them healthy. Fungus thrives in warm and moist environments, so wear socks that wick away perspiration. Avoid shoes that restrict circulation to your feet and that press against your nails. If you have to wear a shoe that isn’t your favorite, consider switching to flip flops in public showers, spas, locker rooms, and gyms. You should also wear sandals or flip flops in public pools and showers.

Infected nails may look thick, brittle, discolored, crumbly, or even separate from the nail bed. Toenails that are separated from the nail bed can be painful and difficult to trim.

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If you have a fungal nail infection, your dermatologist will usually start treatment by trimming the infected nails and cleaning around them. They might soak them first or scrape off some of the fungus that is on or under your nail(s). After the nails are trimmed and cleaned, they will apply an antifungal topical treatment, such as clotrimazole (Lotrimin), terbinafine (Lamisil), or tavaborole (Kerydin). These products are typically applied daily, and can take up to a year before you see results.

Your doctor might also prescribe oral medication to kill the fungus and help your nails grow out without an infection. Oral medication options include terbinafine, itraconazole (Sporanox), or fluconazole (Diflucan). You must take these medications every day for several months to see a positive effect.