Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, is a contagious infection that may affect one or more toenails. Fungus on the toenails produces several obvious symptoms. The affected toenail will change colour to yellow or brown, will become thick and overgrown and may smell. Severe cases of toenail fungus may cause the toenail to crumble or fall off. It is difficult to cure fungus on the toenails, but there are numerous over-the-counter and prescription treatments available to treat the condition.
Rub undiluted tea tree oil on the affected toenail each day. The oil can be rubbed into the top of the nail or applied to the underneath of protruding nails. Tea tree oil is a potent fungicide and antiseptic but may cause skin irritation in sensitive people.
Rinse your toenails with apple cider vinegar after showering and then dry them thoroughly with a hair dryer. This will help cure fungus on your toenails and prevent new infections from forming by lowering the pH of your toenails.
Soak your toenails in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. The Mayo Clinic states that soaking for 20 minutes daily is generally adequate but warns that there is no documented evidence that this treatment is effective.
Go barefoot as often as possible to keep your toenails dry and exposed to sunlight. Toenail fungus requires dark, damp conditions to thrive. Avoid going barefoot in places where you may be exposed to fungal or bacterial infections, however, such as in public showers and around pools.
Sanitise all nail grooming tools after each use to prevent spreading the fungal infection to other toes. You can easily do this by rinsing nail clippers and other tools with alcohol.
Visit your doctor to have infected portions of your toenail removed. This is usually done by filing the toenail down or by dissolving the affected nail with urea and bifonazole paste.
Apply an anti-fungal cream to your toenails. Some anti-fungal creams are available over-the-counter, but these are rarely strong enough to be effective at curing fungus of the toenails. Your doctor may prescribe a topical medication containing ciclopirox or amorolfine to treat your infection.
Take an oral anti-fungal medication, such as itraconazole or terbinafine, if your toenail fungus fails to respond to other treatments or causes significant discomfort when walking or wearing shoes. Oral medications typically must be taken for 3 months or longer, and some may cause severe side effects.
Have your toenail removed surgically. This treatment option is generally only used as a last resort but may be necessary when the fungus continues to spread despite treatment or when mobility is impaired. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, affected toenails may be temporarily removed to enable topical treatment application or may be permanently removed to prevent a deformed nail from regrowing.