The Complete Guide to Preventing and Treating Toenail Fungus

By Jeff Strauss

Key Points

  • Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection that affects millions of people worldwide.
  • It is characterized by the growth of fungus in and around the toenail, leading to discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nail.
  • While toenail fungus is not a life-threatening condition, it can be unsightly, uncomfortable, and persistent if left untreated.
  • In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various preventive measures and treatment options to help you effectively manage toenail fungus.



How to Prevent Toenail Fungus Infection

Outside of nail fungus being unsightly and potentially embarrassing, it can be very difficult and long treatment to eliminate once established, therefore prevention is the best approach.


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  1. Maintain Proper Foot Hygiene:

    • Keep your feet clean and dry, especially after activities that cause perspiration.
    • Use mild soap and warm water to wash your feet daily, ensuring you clean between the toes.
    • Dry your feet thoroughly, paying close attention to the spaces between the toes.
  2. Wear Appropriate Footwear:

  3. Practice Good Nail Care:

    • Trim your toenails straight across, avoiding excessively short cuts or rounding the edges.
    • Regularly disinfect nail clippers or other pedicure tools to prevent fungal transmission.
    • Avoid picking at the skin around the nails, as this can create an entry point for fungus.
    • Nail salons if they do not clean their equipment properly can also be a source of spread. Only go to reputable salons where they have a high degree of hygiene and you know they clean their equipment properly.
  4. Protect Your Feet in Public Areas:

    • Wear shower shoes or waterproof sandals in public showers, gyms, and pool areas. These areas are where fungi thrive and are the most common areas for toenail fungus spread.
    • Use a clean towel or disposable tissue to cover surfaces before sitting or placing your feet on them.
  5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle:

    • Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support your immune system’s ability to fight off infections.
    • Exercise regularly to improve blood circulation, which aids in maintaining healthy nails.



How to Treat Toenail Fungus Infection

Once you have toenail fungus, its important that you use the best treatment possible so it does not continue to spread as it can be harder to eliminate once established. Depending on several factors including your health condition will determine the best treatment for you, which is why seeing a doctor is very important as soon as possible.

Related: Best Toenail Fungus Treatment According to Top Dermatologist


  1. Over the Counter Treatments and Antifungal Products:

    • Topical antifungal creams, ointments, and sprays may be effective in some cases. All it takes is a walk down the isle of the local pharmacy to see all of the options. The biggest issue with these treatments is limited penetration to the nail bed where the infection is occurring. While these products are where most people start, this is rarely where they finish.
    • Look for active ingredients like clotrimazole, miconazole, or terbinafine, which have anti fungal activity
    • Follow the instructions carefully and continue treatment for the recommended duration and beyond to avoid it from coming back
  2. Prescription Medications:

    • This is considered the gold standard for most nail infections and may include, oral antifungal medications and prescription topical antifungals medications which have higher penetration to the area of infection and can include a combination of these.
    • Commonly prescribed oral antifungals include terbinafine, fluconazole, and itraconazole.
    • Commonly prescribed topical medications include ciclopirox lacquer and efinaconazole topical solution
    • Only a doctor can determine which treatment options are best for you and your condition.


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  3. Laser Treatment:

    • Laser therapy has emerged as an alternative treatment for toenail fungus. The data is still out on this one as an effective treatment option.
    • It involves using laser light to target and destroy the fungus while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed.
    • Multiple sessions may be required, and results can vary.
  4. Surgical Intervention:

    • In rare cases where conservative treatments fail, surgical options such as nail removal may be considered.
    • This allows for the direct application of antifungal medication to the affected area.
    • Surgery is usually a last resort and reserved for severe infections.
  5. Home Remedies and Natural Treatments:

    • While there is limited scientific evidence, some individuals have reported success with home remedies.
    • These include tea tree oil, vinegar soaks, hydrogen peroxide, and essential oils like oregano or lavender.
    • It is important to note that natural treatments may not be as effective for everyone and should be used with caution.

    While a number of toenail fungus remedies and treatment combinations exist, it’s been shown that the most effective cure rate – up to 89% – is a combination of oral and topical prescription medications.

    Learn More: Top dermatologist Dr. Neil Sadick weighs in on the most effective way to cure toenail fungus and prevent reinfection.


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Cure Toenail Fungus for Good with a Complete Approach

In conclusion, toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, while common and not life-threatening, can be a persistent and bothersome issue that calls for preventive measures and appropriate treatment.

Maintaining proper foot hygiene, wearing suitable footwear, practicing good nail care, protecting your feet in public areas, and leading a healthy lifestyle are all key to preventing this fungal infection.

In the event you contract toenail fungus, there are various options available for treatment – ranging from over-the-counter antifungal products and prescription medications to alternative methods like laser treatment and home remedies. It is essential, however, to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options based on your specific health condition.

Don’t let toenail fungus keep you from putting your best foot forward; arm yourself with this knowledge and take the necessary steps to ensure your toenails stay healthy and fungus-free.


About the Author: Jeff Strauss received his pre-med/biology degree from Villanova University and has become an industry expert in the field of dermatology, with 20 plus years of experience. He is also the CEO and Co-Founder of Distinct Dermatology Inc.


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