Toenail fungus treatment helps eliminate the unsightly and notoriously stubborn problem that affects approximately 35 million people in the U.S. (1).
Medically known as “onychomycosis,” toenail fungal infections are caused by various fungal organisms (fungi) resulting in nails becoming discolored, thick and more likely to crack and break.
Quality of life, in terms of self-esteem and social interaction, is adversely affected when fungal nail infections are present (2).
However, a fungal nail infection is more than a cosmetic problem. The nails serve several important functions and, when they are infected by fungal organisms, these functions are severely impaired.
Treatment is especially important in those with diabetes and for those with a compromised immune system as fungal infections can lead to complications such as secondary infections.
The good news is that there are several treatment options available and with proper treatment, many people can get rid of toenail fungus. Nail fungal infections are best treated in the earliest stages. Patients who use the treatment exactly as prescribed and for as long as prescribed will be the most successful.
Stopping the medication too early may result in a return of the infection.
For some, however, infections can be difficult to treat. Researchers are looking for better ways to treat nail fungus, with less side effects.
Best Toenail Fungus Treatment
1 Arishine Fungus Treatment
For those looking for one of the best products on the market, Arishine Fungus Treatment is the choice. While fungus can often be an embarrassing condition to deal with, this fungus treatment comes in a design that is similar to a pencil. This makes it simple to conceal and easy to use. Considering application is required three times a day, its size is a big bonus.
Additionally, its formulation also uses some of the best and well-known ingredients to resolve issues with toenail fungus. While it is designed to primarily resolve the issue of toenail fungus, it could also lead to healthier and stronger nails after continued use. It has an all-natural ingredient list has proven to be one of the more successful treatments available.
2 Fungi-Nail Anti-Fungal Treatment
If you’re looking for a solution that comes in an ointment rather than a polish application, Fungi-Nail has a great product. As an FDA-approved medication, it is by far one of the safest and most efficient products on the market.
With a mixture of eucalyptus, tea tree oil, and aloe vera leaf relief from itching and burning is a core focus.
As an ointment, the frequency of application is less than other products which may make it easier to use for those who may lead a busy life during the day. One of the best parts of this treatment is its ability to not only treat the symptoms of toenail fungus but also the root cause making it a highly reliable product.
3 FineVine Antifungal Balm
If you’re looking for something a little more solid in terms of texture, FineVine’s Antifungal Balm presents a solid choice. This antifungal treatment not only does what it promises but promotes overall skin health that could help to prevent future problems.
Though it does include some of the more standard antifungal ingredients, this balm also includes unique elements such as lavender, coconut, and olive oil to soothe some of the prevalent symptoms of itchy, scaly, or cracked skin.
One of the best aspects of this treatment is its all-natural formulation. Made with 100% all-natural products and no fillers, or chemicals makes this an ideal choice for a variety of lifestyles. The only slight drawback for some will be the texture of the balm, which is normally fairly hard when it first comes out of the container.
4 Purely Northwest Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak
For those looking for a multi-purpose solution, Purely Northwest’s Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak is an interesting choice. Unlike other forms or applications, this treatment focuses on the soothing nature of a foot bath for antifungal needs. Made from Epsom salt, sea salt, and other oils to both soften and heal infected skin.
Made from all-natural ingredients with no synthetic fragrances or dyes, this is one of the purest forms of treatment available. As you may have guessed, the main drawback of this treatment is the need to use it as a foot soak.
This may prove slightly problematic for those who may need a more aggressive treatment option. If you’re looking for an additional component to your treatment or have a mild condition, this product may be just what you’re looking for.
5 Remedy Wash Antifungal Soap
As an all-around option, Remedy Wash Antifungal Soap is one of the best out there. As an antifungal soap, it presents a simple, medicated way to assist in the treatment of toenail fungus.
It focuses on the use of tea tree oil, aloe vera, and mint to wash away bacteria while also providing a soothing effect.
One of the other benefits that come with this treatment is its multi-purpose use. While it can be used on feet specifically as an antifungal solution, it can also be used all over your body to promote healthy skin and nails. This makes it easy, convenient, and cost-effective.
6 Perfect Nail Solution Toenail Fungus Treatment
This 2-step topical antifungal treatment has a lot to offer. Perfect Nail’s formulation of tea tree oil and oregano oil not only soothes but also focuses on removing the yellowing that may occur on infected nails.
With an all-natural approach, this proves to be a superb choice.
The main drawback here is the use of multiple steps to achieve the overall goal. With the further need to use a foot soak, this may not be ideal for many people. Though this is the case, we still think its formulation and success rate make it an ideal choice for those with the time to use it.
7 Majestic Pure Revitalizing Nail Treatment
With its combination of oils as the focus point, Majestic Pure’s antifungal treatment provides a liquid solution for users. With its premeasured dropper, this is ideal for those who may prefer an easy and alternative solution to traditional balms and ointments.
The inclusion of clove, does leave a slight smell that may not appeal to some. If you’re open to it and want something without a greasy feel this is an optimum choice.
8 Scobuty Biological Repair Fungus Treatment
Scobuty’s antifungal treatment takes a more medicinal approach to toenail fungus treatment with a great deal of success. By combining deacetylated acid, salicylic acid, and angelica dahurica this proves to be one of the more successful applications around.
With its applicator form, this is an easy treatment to consider for those who need something in a hurry.
9 Funginix Anti-fungal Treatment
Fuginix Antifungal Treatment is made of a combination of undecylenic acid, tea tree oil, lavender oil, and menthol to not only treat fungus but soothe chronic symptoms.
With its fast-absorbing formula, users can anticipate possible relief in as little as five minutes making it a solid choice for those in immediate need.
10 Dr. G’s Clear Nail Antifungal Treatment
Dr. G’s Clear Nail Antifungal Treatment is highly accessible and makes a great choice who may want something found in a local grocery store.
Though highly accessible, the formulation proves to also be solid with a standard ingredient list of antifungal products such as tea tree oil.
How We Rank
With the many varieties of toenail fungus treatments out there, it was important to pick those that would be not only effective but long-lasting and convenient. To begin our rankings, we chose to look at the ingredient list. Though there are many claims out there, we wanted to make sure the products we chose had an ingredient list full of beneficial oils and antifungal properties.
Products that had teat tree and eucalyptus oils, such as Purely Northwest and Remedy Wash, were given higher preference due to their scientifically-backed efficiency. Additionally, those that had active ingredients such as chitosan, angelica, or O-hydroxybenzoic acid were also placed higher on the list – like our first pick Arishine Fungus Treatment.
While looking at active ingredients, we also wanted to avoid those with proprietary blends or inactive ingredients that have no proven basis for use in an anti-fungal formulation. Products that had too many unknown ingredients or artificial dyes, fillers, and binders were also left off of the rankings to ensure the purest and most efficient options were presented.
Lastly, we wanted to choose high-quality products that provided users with convenience. Toenail fungus is not often looked at in a positive light, so it was important to highlight products that were efficient but could be used in multiple ways or multiple locations. This why we chose easy to use and dispense products like Fungi-Nail Anti-Fungal Ointment, which also happens to be FDA approved. Products that came in the form of pencil applicators, like Arishine Fungus Treatment, were given preference over larger jars or containers if their ingredients and other elements checked out.
After all that, we determined the top 10 best toenail fungus treatments on the market.
1 Toenail fungus treatment helps prevent the spread of infection to the surrounding areas. Nail fungal infections are highly contagious, and it is possible that an infection may spread to other healthy nails.
Fungus does not only infect nails. Sometimes it can spread to the surrounding skin on the foot. This may result in athlete’s foot, a condition marked by itchy, red, cracked skin.
Fungus thrives in a warm, dark, moist environment. People who wear heavy footwear and sweaty socks all day are more susceptible to the spread of nail fungal infections to the other areas of the feet.
2 Toenail fungus treatment helps prevent the spread of infection to other parts of the body. While infections do not typically spread beyond the foot for most people, for some, it does happen.
If a toenail fungus spreads to the skin and causes it to crack, bacteria can sneak in and cause infections. For patients who are diabetics and those who are immunocompromised, it is important to address those issues.
Bacteria can lead to conditions like foot ulcers or cellulitis. Cellulitis is a potentially serious bacterial skin infection. The affected skin appears swollen and red and is typically painful and warm to the touch.
In severe cases of cellulitis, the infection can enter the bloodstream and lead to a widespread infection throughout the body (3).
3 Toenail fungus treatment can help prevent foot pain. When early warning signs of infection are ignored and treatment is delayed, nail fungal infections can eventually make the nails thickened and deformed.
The nails can thicken to the point that they cause discomfort when wearing shoes (due to the nail pressing on the inside of a shoe and causing pain) or even making it more difficult to walk.
Sometimes, even something as simple as putting on socks can be painful.
4 Toenail fungus treatment improves daily activity levels. As nails become thicker and more painful, many people find their condition affects their ability to perform and enjoy daily activities. Just putting pressure on the area can be problematic.
Treating the infection can improve mobility and help individuals get back to their normal routine — without toe and foot pain.
5 Toenail fungus treatment can prevent ingrown toenails. Nail fungus can sometimes lead to an ingrown toenail. This common condition occurs when the corner or side of a toenail grows into the soft flesh. The result is pain, redness, swelling and, sometimes, an infection. Ingrown toenails usually affect the big toe.
One of the ways to prevent an ingrown toenail is to trim nails straight across.
However, toenails that are thickened and deformed by a fungal infection are difficult to trim, resulting in sharp edges that can grow into the skin.
Treatment of a fungal infection can help restore the damaged nail to one that is healthy and easy to cut and maintain.
6 Toenail fungus treatment prevents the loss of nails. A complication of the growth of fungus is that it causes the separation of the nail from its nail bed. If left untreated, the infection can grow deeper, which can cause the nail to become weak or brittle to the point that it eventually falls off.
In some occasions, the loss of nail can be permanent.
With proper and consistent treatment, nail loss can be prevented.
7 Toenail fungus treatment can improve the appearance of feet. One of the most common complaints of toenail fungal infections is how they make people feel insecure about the appearance of their feet.
Fungal toenail infections take some time to treat. Even once the fungi are killed, patients still have to go through the slow process of waiting for their nails to grow out and healthy nail to grow in.
With a little patience, however, individuals will confidently be able to put their toes on display.
On average, a toenail grows out in 12 to 18 months.
For a severe infection, a healthy-looking nail, however, may be unrealistic, but patients can expect the nail to look better and feel more comfortable.
Seeking treatment early on is the best way to preserve the appearance of the nail.
8Toenail fungus medications may cause allergic reactions. While it is not common, there are situations in which antifungal treatments may cause an allergic reaction. With the wide array of treatments currently available, an allergic reaction could stem from both oral or topical use depending on an individual’s health history.
Allergic reactions often result in rashes, hives, or mild skin irritation. In some cases, there may be slight facial swelling if a topical application is used. In other cases, however, the reaction could become more severe or life-threatening. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, it is highly advisable to consult a physician before using antifungal treatments to lessen the chances of a severe reaction occurring.
There are several treatment options available, and the side effects depend on the type of treatment used.
1 Medicines that are applied to the nail may cause mild symptoms. There are currently several topical medications that have been approved by the FDA and reported side effects include redness and swelling, an ingrown toenail, and stinging or burning when the medication is applied (4).
2 Oral antifungal medications are much more effective than topical treatments, but they have more side effects. Side effects of oral medications include headaches, dizziness, stomach and bowel problems, and rashes.
3 Oral drugs may interact with certain medications, such as cholesterol-reducing, blood-sugar-lowering medications, antidepressants and heart medications, as well as certain sleeping pills (5).
4 Oral medications may cause liver damage. The primary concern is liver toxicity, because these medications are metabolized by the liver. Doctors may not recommend them for people with liver disease.
Occasional blood tests may be performed — usually a baseline and then midway through the treatment — to evaluate the effects of these types of drugs on the liver.
To get rid of the infection, all infected areas need to be treated. Toenail fungus is very hardy and may recur if it is not killed completely. Oral antifungal medications are typically the first choice because they clear the infection more quickly than topical drugs. They are usually taken for six to 12 weeks.
It may take four months or longer to eliminate an infection (6).
Medicated topical treatment (nail polish) is painted on the infected nail and surrounding skin once a day. After seven days, the layers are wiped clean with alcohol and fresh applications begin again. This type of nail polish may need to be used daily for almost a year.
Medicated topical treatment (nail cream) is rubbed into the infected nail after soaking it in warm water for ten minutes and drying it. These creams may work better by first thinning the nails. This helps the medication get through the hard nail surface to the underlying fungus. To thin nails, doctors recommend applying a nonprescription lotion containing urea, or the doctor may thin the surface of the nail (debride) with a file or other tool.
What is the best treatment for toenail fungus? This depends on several factors, including the severity of the infection, patient preference and overall health. While oral medications have the highest success rate, many patients try to steer clear of side effects by trying a topical treatment first.
Mild infections can be treated with a medicine that is applied to the nails to get rid of the infection. This treatment helps keep new fungus out while the nails grow. It is important, however, to diligently apply these medications as directed to get the best results. When more aggressive treatment is needed, prescription antifungal pills are the go-to. Not only do antifungal pills work more quickly than medicine applied to the nails, they and also have a higher cure rate.
For a severe infection, or when other treatments do not work, a dermatologist may recommend removing the nail(s) to get rid of the infection. Various lasers are also being used for nail fungus. However, further studies are needed to establish the efficacy of lasers in the treatment of nail fungus.
What is the best over-the counter-toenail fungus treatment? There are several over-the-counter treatments available to treat nail fungus in the form of liquids, solutions and creams. But because they do not penetrate the nail, they work best in infections of the skin or nail surface. Common topical antifungals include clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF®) and terbinafine (Lamisil®). When the fungus has invaded the nailbed, over-the-counter treatments may not be strong enough.
Are there any alternative therapies or home remedies to treat toenail fungus? Although these may not be as effective as prescription medications, they might be worth a try.
Small studies suggest that a medicated chest rub, such as VapoRub, might kill the fungus in up to 38 percent of people. Larger studies are needed to confirm if it truly helps (7).
Some small-scale clinical studies show that when applied topically, tea tree oil may improve the appearance of the nail, but there is not enough evidence to suggest that it is effective in curing nail infections. Although home remedies typically have fewer side effects, there is little scientific evidence that they work.
If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, you should not use home remedies for toenail fungus. Contact your doctor for the appropriate course of action.
How do dermatologists diagnose nail fungus? A dermatologist examines the nails and nearby skin to check if the fungus has spread.
Before giving you the diagnosis, your dermatologist may also take some samples. Collecting a bit of debris from beneath a nail, trimming off part your nail, or scraping off a bit of skin can be very helpful. These samples are examined under a microscope to find out what is exactly causing the problem. Many nail problems can look like a fungal infection, but are in fact another condition such as psoriasis.
What causes fungus on toenails? Tiny, microscopic organisms called fungi cause a fungal nail infection. The most common cause is a type of fungus called dermatophyte. The fungi thrive in warm, dark and moist places like the feet. You are more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, such as communal showers, locker rooms and gyms.
Other ways you can get a fungal nail infection is by sharing an infected nail clipper or towel, or if your nails are frequently moist or you often wear sweaty socks and shoes.
Can a toenail fungal infection be spread from person to person? Yes. Toenail fungus can be contracted by sharing objects of personal hygiene (towels, for example) or other infected items, such as shoes or socks. It can also be transmitted by direct contact with a person who is suffering from toenail fungus (by touching the toenails or the skin around them) although this is less common.
How does laser treatment for toenail fungus work? Laser therapy is the latest buzz in the treatment of toenail fungus. The aim of laser treatment of fungal infections is to heat the nail bed to temperatures required to disrupt fungal growth, while at the same time avoiding pain and damage to surrounding tissues.
How effective is laser treatment for toenail fungus? Although there is some evidence that lasers can kill fungal organisms, clinical studies in humans are limited so far (8). In addition, no long-term studies of effectiveness are available. The results of one study, published in a 2016 issue of Podiatry Today, showed that laser is not a reliable monotherapy for toenail fungus treatment. Whether or not it could have a role as adjuvant therapy with either oral or topical antifungals (especially for treatment-resistant infections) needs to be studied.
How much does laser treatment cost? The cost differs from one provider to the next but averages about $1000. Insurance companies tend to view toenail fungus as a cosmetic problem, so many patients trying this type of treatment will have to pay for it out-of-pocket. People with diabetes may get coverage, because toenail fungus in diabetics can lead to other sorts of infections.
What is the best treatment for severe toenail fungus? For severe cases, oral medications may not be adequate to clear the infection. In these cases, the nail is temporarily removed and antifungal medication is directly applied to the infected area under the nail. Permanent removal of a nail that is continuously causing pain and has not responded to any treatments may be recommended for some patients.
How long does it take for toenail fungus to go away with topical treatment? The FDA has approved four medicines that are applied to the nail to treat fungal infections. Topical treatment helps keep new fungus out while the nails grow. Toenails typically take 12 to 18 months to grow out. This type of treatment is not recommended for moderate to severe infections because it does not penetrate the nail deeply enough to kill all of the fungus in the nail bed and prevent the infection from recurring. It also does not work as quickly as oral medications to clear the infection. You may need to use this type of nail polish daily for almost a year.
How will I know if the treatment is working? You will know that the treatment is working and the infection is clearing up when you see growth of a new, healthy nail from the base of the nail bed. The new nail will grow slowly outwards from its base, and it may be six months to a year after the treatment has finished before the nails look normal again. It can take 18 months for a toenail infection to grow out completely.
Does a toenail fungal infection go away on its own? Toenail fungal infections do not go away on their own. Many choose to forgo treatment if the infection is minor. The severity is judged by looking at the degree of discoloration, nail thickening and pain. Left untreated, however, the infection can spread and eventually damage the nail.
Why do toenail fungal infections keeping coming back? One of the difficulties people with toenail fungal infections face is having to deal with recurrence. Patients who have a genetic predisposition to fungal infections, and those who are immunocompromised, or who have diabetes, are likely to experience relapse. The fungi that cause infections thrive in warm, moist environments and live in shoes, socks, bathrooms, gyms, dorm showers and many other places. The risk of re-infection is high and taking careful precautionary measures is important.
How can I prevent a toenail fungal infection? There are several steps to take, including: Wearing flip flops or shower sandals when walking in warm, moist areas like gyms, locker rooms, spas, public showers and pools. Putting on a clean pair of socks every day and whenever your socks get sweaty. Alternating shoes; Fungi thrive in moist places like damp shoes. You can reduce this growth by giving shoes 24 hours to dry out before wearing them again. Keeping your nails short. This helps prevent fungi and other germs from getting under your nails. Never sharing nail clippers, shoes, skates, towels and other personal items. Keeping your feet clean and dry. Choosing a reputable nail salon that properly cleans and disinfects its manicure and pedicure instruments.
If you have toenail fungus, should you throw away shoes when you get treatment? Fungus can live in footwear for an extended period of time, giving you another infection. If you just finished treating nail fungus, throw away shoes, boots, skates and other footwear that you wore before you started treatment. Inadequate laundering of socks can also be a source of reinfection following treatment.
Washing socks separately in hot water is recommended. Lower temperatures will not kill the fungus and can transfer spores to other fabrics in the same load. For white cotton socks, you can use chlorine bleach along with the hot water to disinfect the fabric.
Does Vicks VapoRub kill toenail fungus? Its active ingredients, camphor and eucalyptus oil, may help treat toenail fungus. In a pilot study, 15 of the 18 participants (83 percent) showed a positive treatment effect; 5 (27.8 percent) were cured at 48 weeks; 10 (55.6 percent) had partial clearance, and 3 (16.7 percent) showed no change (9).
While the results of this study are promising, doctors are hesitant to recommend this over-the-counter product as a treatment due to limited studies evaluating the specific effects of VapoRub on fungal infections. Prescription medications are the only clinically proven treatments so far.
Does vinegar kill toenail fungus? While vinegar contains acetic acid, which has antimicrobial properties, there is not enough evidence to support using vinegar as an effective treatment in eliminating toenail fungus.
However, a vinegar soak may soothe and ease symptoms, especially when the infection has spread to the skin (athlete’s foot), and is unlikely to cause any harm. Individuals with diabetes should consult with their physician before trying this method.
Is toenail fungus something to be concerned about? Yes, in general, toenail fungus could have a severe impact on general health if there is an existing history of certain conditions including diabetes or a suppressed immune system. It is highly recommended that toenail fungus issues be addressed as soon as possible to avoid any detrimental effects.
Is toenail fungus common in children? No, toenail fungus is not common in most children. It can, however, occur often as the cause of toenail fungus stems from exposure to both moisture and warmth. Parents who observe possible toenail fungus on children’s feet should seek medical attention from a pediatrician as soon as possible to avoid any possible complications.
There are several toenail fungus treatment options available for those suffering from this common condition. These include topical and oral medications as well as surgery and laser treatment.
Fungal infections normally develop over time, and may go unnoticed until symptoms appear. Signs include discolored, thick, cracking nails that can be painful. Although this condition can be unsightly and embarrassing for some, it is typically not dangerous.
People with diabetes and other chronic conditions that weaken the immune system, however, are at greater risk of developing potentially dangerous complications caused by these infections.
Topical treatments applied directly to the nail are reserved for minor infections, while oral medications work best for moderate to severe infections.
Side effects of topical treatments are mild, while oral medications can cause side effects that range from headaches and stomach issues to liver problems.
Toenail fungal infections are notoriously stubborn to eliminate. Patients who follow their recommended treatment exactly as prescribed and for as long as prescribed will have the most success.