Creams & topical treatments for toenail fungus are often the first choice for nail fungus treatment. That said, they're still a good option for people with mild cases of toenail fungus or for those who can't take oral antifungals. These medications help a new nail grow free of infection by slowly replacing the infected part. Oral antifungal medications can cause side effects, such as rash and liver damage. Or they may interfere with other prescription medications.
You may need occasional blood tests to check your progress with these types of medications. Healthcare providers may not recommend oral antifungal medications to people with liver disease or congestive heart failure or to people taking certain medications. You can buy antifungal creams, gels and nail polishes in-store and online without a prescription. You might want to try one of them first if the infection doesn't look bad.
Some people also rely on home remedies such as menthol ointment, tea tree oil, mouthwash, or snake root extract, but studies show conflicting results. If your symptoms don't improve with home treatment, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or a podiatrist. They may recommend a prescription topical medication or an oral antifungal pill that you take for two or three months. Oral treatment is usually more effective, but it may interact with other medications.
In addition, oral treatment can affect the liver, so you may need liver function tests while you are taking the medication. Fungal toenail infection, known as onychomycosis, is a common but difficult condition; toenail fungus treatments include a wide range of options with varying success rates. Sometimes home remedies such as applying tea tree oil or vinegar are recommended for the treatment of nail fungus. So far, only a few studies have looked at topical treatments for nail fungus with nail polishes or creams.
As long as it returns, your doctor will likely give you a cream or other treatment to put on your nail bed to keep fungi away. Laser treatment for toenail fungus may temporarily improve the toenail, but it has a lower cure rate than oral medication. In addition, the fungal infection reappeared in many participants, so it is likely that neither treatment could increase the chances of eliminating the fungus in the long term.