You cannot cure nail fungus by yourself once it occurs. But good nail hygiene may reduce your risk of developing the infection in the first place.
- Keep your nails clean and dry. This helps prevent the fungi from proliferating under the nails and invading the tissue
- Do not bite your nails or try to dig out ingrown toenails. Doing either of these things puts you at risk for an infection.
- Dry your feet completely after bathing and use a good-quality foot powder.
- Wear shoes and socks that provide good ventilation. Tight shoes that trap perspiration create a perfect environment for fungi to grow and multiply. Wearing open-toed shoes, or shoes that provide good ventilation with socks that wick moisture away from your feet will help keep your feet dry. If you perspire heavily, consider changing your socks several times day. Taking your shoes off occasionally during the day and after exercise will help wick moisture away from your toes.
Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.
In some cases, surgical treatment of nail fungus may be necessary. Temporary removal of part of an infected nail may reduce pain and allow topical antifungal agents to be applied directly to the underlying tissue. When a nail fungus does not respond to any other treatment, permanent removal may be considered. With permanent removal, the nail plate and the nail matrix (the tissue from which the nail grows) are removed. Permanent removal may eliminate the pain associated with a thickened nail plate, and when done correctly, prevents a deformed nail from growing back.
Good nail care is especially important for people with diabetes and for people with suppressed immune systems. Because diabetes affects nerves and blood supply in the feet, nail infections that would be relatively minor in someone without diabetes may lead to serious complications such as foot ulcers in diabetics. Similarly, people with suppressed immune systems, like people with HIV/AIDS or those treated with immunosuppressants after organ transplantation, may be at a higher risk for developing serious complications after fungal infections. For all of these people, preventing nail infections is an important part of daily self-care.
The cure rate is good for most people with nail fungus using the new antifungal drugs, but relapses do occur. Cure rates with the newer antifungal drugs are better than for the older drugs. While the rate of relapse is lower using the new drugs than older treatments, relapses do occur. It is important to practice good nail hygiene after treatment is stopped to reduce the risk of relapse or re-infection.
The new antifungal drugs can cause liver damage in rare cases. People taking these new drugs must have their liver function tests monitored via blood tests by their prescribing doctors.
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