Nail fungus removal: Nail polish, cream or tablets?

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What medicines are used to treat nail fungus? Nail polish or cream? Oral tablets or other medication? Many people who suffer from mycosis of the nails ask this question.

The subject is annoying regardless of whether the fingernails or toenails are affected.

I want to introduce you to the nail polish treatment methods and explain how to use them.

Anyone suffering from nail fungus likes to hide their feet in shoes or try not to show their hands openly. The disease, also called onychomycosis, is uncomfortable and persistent. 

Nail fungus is prevalent and affects up to 30 percent of the world’s population. It can be triggered by mold, yeast, or filamentous fungi (dermatophytes). The thread fungi are responsible for nail fungus infection in most cases.

Frequently, an untreated athlete’s foot is the cause. The fungus is already on the skin of the foot and can penetrate the nails through minor injuries in the nail area. Nail fungus, on the other hand, can also cause an athlete’s foot.

A healthy immune system can usually fight off the pathogen. However, if the immune system is weakened, the germs can spread and lodge easily. People with diabetes and circulatory disorders or similar diseases are particularly at risk of contracting a fungal infection.

A nail affected by nail fungus can be recognized by a yellow-brownish, sometimes darker discoloration, which is usually visible at the beginning of the nail edge. Another sign is that the shape and thickness of the nail are changing, and the nail is separating from the nail bed.

The most crucial information about nail fungus treatment in brief

  • There are several over-the-counter medicines for nail fungus: creams and nail polishes. These are used in the early stages.
  • Nail fungus does not heal on its own. The infection can be treated by a nail polish of means.
  • The treatment of nail fungus on the hands usually takes about half a year and usually 9-12 months on the feet. This is due to the slower nail growth of the toenails.
  • If the fungal infection has progressed, additional tablets can be prescribed by a doctor.

Treating nail fungus requires a lot of patience. The therapy usually lasts several months.

How can nail fungus be treated?

On the one hand, nail mycosis can be treated externally, and the following remedies are available:

  • Nail polish
  • Cream

On the other hand, internal nail fungus therapy is also possible with:

  • Tablets

Further options, which are used much less often:

  • Laser
  • Home remedies

Nail fungus remedy for external treatment

External therapy for nail fungus is the most common method. The advantage is that the active ingredient can be applied directly to the affected area of the nails.

Especially if the fungus is still in its early stages, the treatment can be started with an active ingredient-containing nail polish or cream.

Nail polish against nail fungus

Antifungal nail polishes containing active ingredients are a trendy means of treating fungal pathogens. This is due, among other things, to the ease of use and the excellent suitability for everyday use. 

The nail fungus is applied superficially to the entire nail and is absorbed into the nail plate within a few minutes.

In thickened nails, it is advisable to remove part of the diseased nail substance with a disposable file before treatment. Alternatively, a podiatrist can file down the nail.

There are both waterproof and water-soluble nail polishes against nail fungus. The waterproof ones need to be removed with a nail polish remover. They also differ in the frequency of use between several times a week, daily application, and once-a-week application to the nails.

An example of water-soluble nail polish is  ProClearz Fungal Shield. The nail polish is antifungal (fungicidal), antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Cream against nail fungus

Creams or ointments are the second options for topical treatment of nail fungus. Creams also work locally and directly on the affected fingernail or toenail.

The application of the cream against nail fungus is more complicated. So that it stays on the nail where it is supposed to work, the cream must be fixed with a plaster bandage over the nail of the toes or fingers. The plaster can slip easily, and therefore the nail fungus treatment is a little more laborious than a nail polish. 

Depending on the manufacturer, the nail polish creams contain the following active ingredients: bifonazole and urea. The bifonazole kills fungi, and the urea dissolves the horny layer of the diseased nail.

This is also the great advantage of nail fungus cream. The urea can dissolve thickened toenails or fingernails, which often occur with advanced nail fungus. This allows the fungicidal agent to penetrate the nail and fight the fungus directly.

A drug against the fungal pathogen that contains both urea and bifonazole is the

Clear 40 HA. It is used for nail fungus with a thickened nail plate, as it softens infected nail material so that it can be removed.

The Clear 40 HA is intended for the first two weeks of nail fungus treatment. During this time, the horny layer of the thickened nail should be dissolved. The cream is applied daily, i.e., seven times a week.

After 14 days, the nails should be treated with another medication, cream, or nail polish.

The two treatments combine the advantages of nail polish forms of therapy.

In the first phase of the nail fungus treatment, the horny layer is removed in the first two weeks. In the second phase, the therapy is continued with a cream or a nail fungus polish (preferably with ciclopirox).

This is the best remedy for nail fungus.

Unfortunately, none of the remedies can promise a safe cure for the infection. 

If none of the above works for the fungal disease, there are other options …

Internal treatment with tablets

In severe cases, tablets are used to treat nail fungus.
In severe cases, tablets are used to treat nail fungus.

In addition to creams and nail polishes, nail fungus can also be treated with tablets (with active ingredients such as terbinafine). The drugs are taken and fight the fungus on the nail from the inside out. The active ingredient is transported to the site of action via the bloodstream and thus acts on the nail bed.

Taking tablets is used when:

  • It is a very advanced fungal attack on the nail and skin
  • The nail root or the nail bed is affected
  • Several nails are concerned at the same time
  • The use of nail polishes or creams does not help.

All tablets against nail fungus are available on prescription and must, therefore by a doctor, depending on the symptoms prescribed for the infection. You can find the side effects of the individual active ingredients on my page on tablets against nail fungus.

These nail fungus remedies cannot be bought at the pharmacy to treat nail fungus without a prescription. Terbinafine, itraconazole or fluconazole are prescribed against the causative agent of nail fungus.

More nail fungus remedies

In addition to the traditional remedies against nail fungus (nail polish, cream, and tablets), there are also other therapy options. On the one hand, laser treatment, on the different hand homeopathy, and home remedies.

Nail fungus laser

Treatment of onychomycosis on the toe with a nail fungus laser.
Treatment of onychomycosis on the toe with a nail fungus laser.

Especially when nailing fungus symptoms (both toenails and fingernails) are well advanced, and the infections are deeper, doctors resort to an alternative method: laser therapy against nail fungus.

This remedy for nail fungus is proper when treating the fungi with creams or nail polishes is not effective and internal treatment of nail fungus (taking tablets) is not possible. 

The laser treats the pathogen directly on the nail. The healthy nail substance is spared.

A disadvantage of the treatment is that the costs are not covered by statutory health insurance. The laser treatment for nail fungus costs around $ 70-120 per session. If a fungus is lasered, treatment should be supplemented with local antifungal drugs.

Do home remedies such as tea tree oil and vinegar help against nail fungus?

Baking powder, tea tree oil, alcohol, urine, acetic acid, apple cider vinegar, vinegar, garlic, toothpaste, lavender oil … The list of home remedies that can be used for many diseases and to treat nail fungus is long!

There are a number of measures on the Internet that can be used to treat fungal infections (triggered by dermatophytes). Can they be used for nail fungus treatment?

Is there an insider tip for nail fungus?

One thing can be said in any case: The therapy with home remedies against nail fungus has not been investigated in studies. 

Treating nail fungus: experiences

The application of a nail fungus cream is quite complicated because the horn-loosening cream has to be fixed with a plaster bandage. In addition, the dressing must be changed daily and the softened horny layer removed with a scraper.

The water-solublenail polish can be washed off with water, and therefore no extra nail polish remover or alcohol swab is required to remove the nail polish residue.

In addition, no filing of the diseased nail tissue is required, which is very convenient. The active ingredient of the water-soluble nail polish can penetrate deep into the nail plate and act there against the pathogen.

The waterproof nail polish has the advantage that it only needs to be used once a week. In addition, you can wear a cosmetic, colored nail polish over the medical nail polish to hide unsightly-looking nails.

However, filing and cleaning of the nail plate always occur after a week. A nail polish remover or alcohol swab is required to remove the residue from the nail polish.

Self-medication from nail fungus

Whether a nail fungus on the fingernails or toenails (med .: onychomycosis) has to be treated internally or externally with creams or nail polishes is usually decided by the type and severity of the diseased nail.

Many of the drugs are available over the counter. However, before use, it must be clarified whether the nail is affected by nail fungus or another cause of the nail change.

If the nail fungus is in the early stages, self-medication, i.e., therapy from home, can be started.

If half of a nail plate, the nail root, or more than two nails are affected, you should see a doctor who can accurately diagnose the infection based on the symptoms.  It can also make sense to have medical foot care carried out for nail fungus.

In this case, active ingredients in tablets or capsules can be used, which help against nail fungus from the inside out if external therapy is not sufficient.

In addition, self-medication with a nail fungus cream, nail polish, or sprays is not recommended for people with immunodeficiency, chronic diseases such as diabetes (often in combination with circulatory disorders), pregnancy, or breastfeeding. The treatment of the fungi should always be discussed with a doctor.

No self-medication for:

  • Advanced nail fungus
  • One or more nails that stand out
  • People with immunodeficiency or chronic diseases
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Children and adolescents under 18 years of age

Children and adolescents under the age of 18 should also not be treated without consulting a doctor. It is also essential that the cause of the infection is clarified.

Conclusion on nail fungus treatment

If the fungal infection of the nails is still in the early stages, the nail polish from Proclearz can be used, for example. Treatment is straightforward, and the active ingredient Proclears are both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.

Another advantage is that the product is water-soluble.

If it is about nail fungus with a thickened nail, then combination therapy of cream and nail polish can be carried out

Nail fungus removal: Nail polish, cream or tablets?
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