Oral versus topical medication for fungal nail infections

Wondering how to start treating your fungal nail infection?

Wondering how to start treating your fungal nail infection? Read on to compare oral and topical medications, and to find out which treatment is right for you.

Not only can fungal nail infections wreak havoc on our self-esteem — particularly in the summer months, when most of us wish to trade in the heavy socks for flip flops — but they can also cause a great deal of discomfort, spread easily between your toes and, eventually, make even walking and moderate exercise painful.

For these reasons, it is important that you find an effective and manageable fungal nail infection treatment. Read more about the treatment options available, and the differences between applying a topical medication to the affected nail, and taking a course fungal nail tablets, in order to find the right solution for you.

What is a Fungal Nail Infection?

A fungal nail infection — also known as onychomycosis — is a common condition affecting one or more nails, usually the toenails. The infection will gradually develop over time, eventually causing discolouration, a thickened or ‘brittle’ texture, distortion, and an unpleasant odour. It may also cause pain, particularly when wearing shoes or walking, and spread to other toenails.

Fungal nail infections have a number of causes, from sustaining a nail injury or walking barefoot in damp areas (such as swimming pool changing rooms), to wearing artificial nails or visiting a nail salon that does not practice the proper hygiene procedures. Toenail infections are much more common, as the dark, moist environment created within our shoes is ideal for the growth and spread of the fungus.

Nail fungus does not go away by itself, and though it is unlikely that it will lead to further health complications, it can be a source of anxiety, embarrassment, and discomfort. Fortunately, there are effective fungal nail infection treatment options available, but ensuring that you find the right medication for you will save you time, anxiety, and money in the long run.

What Fungal Nail Infection Treatments Are There?

Fungal nail infections are infamous for being difficult to get rid of and, depending on the severity of the infection, it can take a while to eradicate it entirely. As a result, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible after you have seen signs of an infection; this will help you to avoid further discomfort and embarrassment, and reduce the risk of it spreading to the rest of your toenails, and other members of your household.

Some people choose to apply a topical solution. An antifungal nail paint such as Trosyl can be applied to the surface of the nail; over time — and with consistent use — its antifungal properties can kill off the fungus in your nail.

Also available is fungal nail infection cream. This is applied to the affected area and, with continued use, will gradually penetrate the nail.

Alternatively, many people choose to turn to oral medication. Lamisil (terbinafine) tablets are both effective at treating fungal nails; as with any treatment for fungus, however, they take some time to clear the infection.

Topical Treatments

Antifungal nail paint and fungal nail infection cream are both capable of eradicating an infection, but many people can struggle to continue using the product for as long as they need to. It can take some time for a noticeable change to occur in the infected nail and, if topical fungal nail infection treatments are not used consistently, the infection will have an opportunity to worsen, and potentially spread to other nails.

In general, it is necessary to apply a prescription strength antifungal nail paint once every twelve hours, for between six and twelve months.

Over-the-counter topical treatments are not as powerful or as effective as prescription strength oral medication is against fungal infections, but they are generally well-tolerated, with minimal side effects.

Oral Medication

While fungal nail tablets have more potential side effects than topical solutions, they are far more effective at reaching the source of the infection quickly, as oral medication can enter into the bloodstream, rather than needing to penetrate the hard outer nail. As a result, those taking fungal nail tablets should begin to see positive results much more quickly.

Lamisil tablets contain the active ingredient terbinafine hydrochloride, which is also available in its generic form.

Results are most typically seen after following a twelve-week course of fungal nail tablets. They work by killing the fungus causing the infection and preventing it from causing further damage. While they will not be able to repair any part of your nail that has already been damaged by the infection, they will clear the way for a new, healthy nail to begin growing in its place.

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