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Nail fungus

Just What You've Been Waiting For: All About Nail Fungus

Here's the main thing you need to know about nail fungus: AVOID. Seriously, the best way to treat this stubborn condition is to prevent it in the first place. I've compiled a few suggestions on how to do just that, plus some treatment options if you wind up with an infection.

What it is: Nail fungus is an infection of the nail bed. It often begins as a white or yellow spot under the nail, then spreads to the entire nail. Full-blown fungus usually makes the nail thick, brittle, and yellowed, with crumbly edges to the nail. (You can see pictures if you like, but you've been warned: it ain't pretty.)

How it's transferred: Fungi thrive in warm, dark, damp places, then happily transfer to your toenails or fingernails.

How to avoid it: Never walk barefoot in a public place such as a shower or swimming pool; instead, wear flip-flops to protect your feet from potential fungus hangouts. If you've battled nail fungus before, wear shoes and socks that "breathe," rather than nylons or socks that trap moisture. Take your own tools to nail salons, and never use the Jacuzzi-type foot-soaking tubs — they're harder to sanitize, so you risk picking up someone else's fungus.

To find out how to treat nail fungus,


If you already have nail fungus, you have my condolences. This is one stubborn infection, and it won't go away on its own. In fact, left untreated, the fungus will grow and grow, and it may spread to other nails. While it won't kill you, it's smart to tackle it rather than ignore it.

The best bet is to see a doctor, who may prescribe an antifungal medicine such as Lamisil. (See the little guy up there? He's their fungal spokesperson.) This type of medicine helps new nails grow without fungus, but it takes months to grow a new nail. You may also need to have tests to make sure your liver stays healthy while you take the medicine. Worse yet, these medications can run into the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

Over-the-counter treatments are more or less worthless. Any drugstore will have topical anti-fungal products, but read the label; most, if not all, treat the skin around the nail, but not the nail itself. Folk remedies include using tea tree oil on the nail every night, but that's a hit-or-miss plan. Some people swear by using Vicks Vapo-Rub on the nail; while I haven't had nail fungus, the hypochondriac in me thought I did, and I wore Vapo-Rub to bed for two weeks. (Sexy.) It turned out that my fungus fears were for nothing, but the Vicks treatment did improve some of the discoloration left over from wearing red polish.

As you can see, battling nail fungus is not easy. Once again, it all goes back to prevention. If you can avoid picking it up, please do.

Join The Conversation
Amy89 Amy89 8 years
Nail fungus is very painsome condition and it can be spread to the other parts of the body. I think use such cream which can counter the germs, stop the further spreading and grouth for new nail. I think it is not as time taking to be cure as other skin condition like skin condition vitiligo (white spot disease see: ) such diseases like vitiligo take very long period to be cured. I think small care of hygene with medicine is engough to get rid from the nail fungus. Thanks
jenni536 jenni536 9 years
I'm not sure if what I have is fungus or just discoloration...the manicurist at the salon I go to said it was just discoloration, but I'm not so sure. Anyway, I tried the Vicks last night and I swear my toenails look brand new today! Overnight almost ALL of the discoloration disappeared! I don't know if it's really cured or not, but I'm going to keep applying every night for at least a week just to make sure.
sfbutterfly24 sfbutterfly24 9 years
This is exactly why I don't go to the places w/ Jacuzzi tubs and have found a sanitary place to make my toes all pretty. So worth the extra money to not get toe fungus so so so gross!!!
Beauty Beauty 9 years
ur_momm, you make a good point. Nail polish is definitely not going to help things.
tglynn tglynn 9 years
ok, I know it sounds REALLY WEIRD...but that nail fungus mascot pictured there, Digger, I have a plaster figurine of him! LOL, ok, so I was at my derm and I said "omg! it's digger! such a cute nail fungus!" and she just gave him to me! LOL. probably the best conversation piece I have now.
pinkerbell03 pinkerbell03 9 years
I have it too, *sigh*. I noticed whitish patches on my nail, and thankfully I saw a podiatrist in time. I am very lucky, it's an infection just on the top on the nail, and all I have to do is sand the top of the toe nail, and the white spots go away. He said it'll never go deeper than this. Ugh, not so glamorous, and not so fun to talk about either, lol.
Dubn8tr Dubn8tr 9 years
I have fungus on my pinky toes. I used to go to camp and swimming pools all the time as a kid and I'm pretty sure that's where it came from. Our parents never let us do so much as walk on hotel floors w/o flipflops. I've found that vinegar works. I put some in a little bottle, and use a q-tip like I would a nail polish brush. The nail is visibly clearer when it grows out.
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
Hmmm, I think I have it, damn you public swiming pool!
adrianrny adrianrny 9 years
About 13 years ago I had a fungus on my thumbnail--I took lamisil cream, tablets, i tried everything. Finally, someone suggested tea-tree oil. The fungus I had for months cleared up in days.
KimBurnett KimBurnett 9 years
ur_momm, I have it too on my big toe. Since you can admit it, so can I. I did a course of Lamisil with my doctor a few years ago when it had spread to my fingernail. The fingernail cleared up, but the toe did not completely. The doctor told me that some people have a harder time than others clearing up fungal infections. I guess I'm one of the lucky few. The nail is not all gross and yellow and ridged..but it is a little sore when pressure is applied. I think I got this at a nail salon. I do my own nails now.
ur_momm ur_momm 9 years
ok well am i the only one who actually has this or am i just the only one willing to admit it? lol it sucks, ive had it for years on 3 toenails including my big toe, its not painful or uncomfortable, its just not pretty. plus putting on nail polish is really NOT good for it so theres no hiding it. i considered going to the doctor, but im not excited about the whole blood test thing :S these suggestions for treating it arent really that encouraging :(
karisaamy karisaamy 9 years
Ok so those tub lines are way too small for a pedicure place. Those are more for the at home places.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Here are the tub liners. And Stayplus, you're right — sometimes doctors remove the nail entirely, but it will take months and months for them to grow back. I get so icked out by the idea.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 9 years
I'm more scared of the toenail monster than the acutal fungus ahahah. Seriously the toenail monster has to be the worst animated character for a drug in the history of pharmaceutical ads. Followed closely by the Nasonex Bee ( oddly voiced by Antonio Banderas).
lawchick lawchick 9 years
Bella are you saying there are liners for the jacuzzi things? If so where can you get them? I have been to all the nice spas where I live and they all use the jacuzzi things, and like Amybdk, I love the soaking part!
lightheaded lightheaded 9 years
That commercial always comes on when I am eating dinner!
stayplus stayplus 9 years
Er, I thought the treatment for nail infections was to pull the whole nail out and disinfect under the nail bed and then wait over a few agonizing weeks for a new nail to grow out.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Yuck. It's all about sanitation.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Amybdk — no, you don't have to skip it. You can bring your own bin liners, which will keep your feet safer. I personally never put my feet in the Jacuzzi-style tubs. They are so difficult to clean after every use. Stainless steel tubs are much better; I know that Bliss, for instance, uses a new one every time and disinfects them after each use. So you can definitely keep soaking your feet. Just take a few precautions. :)
CocoChic CocoChic 9 years
:rotfl: at the title!
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
Ugh. I've never gotten it, and I don't plan to. Prevention all the way!
anoz anoz 9 years
I am so terrified of foot fungus... you can get it anywhere! My friend uses an over-the-counter topical ointment though.
amybdk amybdk 9 years
Man! The foot soaking is one of the most enjoyable aspects of a pedicure! So next time I got for a pedi should I request we skip this part of it? :(
cookie23 cookie23 9 years
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
Those commercials make me want to vomit. I hope I never get that. :sick:
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