Podiatry MythBuster: What Won't Cure Your Fungal Nail Infection

Mar 04, 2021

Let's start with what a fungal nail infection actually is. 

Also known as onychomycosis, fungal nail infection occurs beneath the surface of the nail plate and can make the nails appear discoloured: yellow, brown or even green/black. The nail can become very thick, crumbly and porous in texture which may make the nails difficult to cut and cause pain when wearing footwear. 

Home Treatment Options for Fungal Nail Infections
Contrary to popular belief, there are no effective home remedies for onychomycosis. Some over the counter remedies may be effective in mild cases.

#Myth 1: Vicks Vapour Rub
There are many myths regarding the effectiveness of applying vicks vapour rub onto the nail itself. Some people may think they are seeing good result as this treatment may help to reduce the yellow discolouration of the nails. However, vicks vapour rub contains a bleaching agent which means it’s improving the colour but not treating the fungal infection.

#Myth 2: Apple Cider Vinegar 
A lot of our patients would have dipped their toes in this one before they came to see us. Apple cider vinegar contains Malevich acid which has antifungal properties. However, there are no studies shown that apple cider vinegar has any effect on the most common type of fungus found in toenails and for now, it remains a folk remedy which has varying results. I have to admit that since the beginning of my podiatry career I have yet to see apple cider vinegar treat onychomycosis with success. 

#Myth 3: Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is the most commonly recommended natural anti-fungal treatment. However, again there is no evidence to suggest that it is effective in treating fungal nail infections. In fact, World Health Organisation deemed tea tree oil unsafe for use on toenails as the strength of the oil changes over time and it might cause skin burns. 

So What Actually Works?

If you think you may have a fungal nail infection it is best to book an appointment with a podiatrist. The only way to know if there is a fungal infection in the nail it to have the nail tested for fungal presence. There are many nail conditions which appear similar to fungal infections such as damaged, thickened nails, psoriatic nails or nails with yellow nail syndrome etc. 

Many people start to lose hope after trying many treatments and remedies. Some people think it's a condition they are going to have to just live with. However, there are treatment options available with good success rates. As it can take 9-12 months for a nail to fully grow, there is no quick fix for onychomycosis and treatment requires a bit of patience.

Topical Sprays and Lacquers
Amorolfine based nail lacquer available over the counter under a brand name CuraNail seems to be the strongest antifungal agent to target fungal nail infections. However, because the infection is actually under the nail plate, it may be difficult for the lacquer to reach the site of the infection if the nail is very thick and the infection is advanced. 

Oral Antifungal Medications
The most commonly prescribed antifungal medication for onychomycosis is a tablet called terbinafine. This is taken orally for 3-9 months depending on the severity of the infection. 

Lacuna Treatment
The lacuna treatment involves drilling micro-holes into the nail plate and applying an antifungal spray onto the nails. The micro-holes allow the antifungal spray to penetrate through the nail plate and directly to the site of infection. This prevents the infection from growing further and allows healthy nails to grow out. To find out more, click here.

Laser Treatment
Cold lasers may be used to treat fungal nail infections, however at the moment there is poor evidence to suggest success of this therapy. 

Fungal skin infections should also be treated and socks should be washed at about 60 degrees in order to kill any fungal spores. Did you know that fungal nail infections usually start on the skin and then migrate towards and under the nail plate? Once the infection has cleared, it is important to keep up a healthy foot care regime in order to reduce the risk of re-infection 

If your own nails appear yellow, thickened or discoloured and you feel you already tried everything, fear not. We are here to help. Make sure to check out our Instagram and Facebook for some of our success stories with some of the most stubborn infections that we've seen. If you would like to talk to a podiatrist to see what we can do for you call us on 0838241454 or click here to book your consultation today.

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