Treating Onychomycosis at Home: What You Need to Know

Do you suffer from an embarrassing fungal infection called onychomycosis? If so, you have come to the right place. Discover the ways to treat this condition safely and efficiently at home.

Quick facts: Treating Onychomycosis At Home

  • ✅ Approximately 70% of onychomycosis cases are caused by the fungus Trichophyton rubrum. (Dermatology Times)
  • ✅ Up to 10% of the population is affected by onychomycosis. (UptoDate)
  • ✅ The most common home treatment for onychomycosis is over-the-counter topical antifungal creams and ointments. (Mayo Clinic)
  • ✅ Oral antifungal medications are sometimes prescribed for onychomycosis, but can cause serious side effects. (American Academy of Dermatology)
  • ✅ Laser treatments for onychomycosis have been shown to have a success rate of up to 80%. (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology)

Checkout this video:

Overview of Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails that is caused by dermatophytes, yeasts, and molds. It is often caused by warm and moist environments which allow these fungi to thrive. Common symptoms of onychomycosis include changes in the nail’s appearance, discoloration, and detachment from the nail bed.

In this article, we’ll discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments for onychomycosis.

Common symptoms

Onychomycosis, also known as nail fungus, is a common fungal infection that affects the nails. Typically caused by mold-like fungi called dermatophytes, it most commonly attacks the toenails.

Symptoms of onychomycosis include:

  • Discoloration of the nail, which can range from yellow to brownish or white spots and streaks;
  • Thickening or crumbling of the nail;
  • Separation of the nail from the underlying skin;
  • Rough or ragged edges;
  • Fragile or brittle nails;
  • Pain when wearing tight-fitting shoes or walking barefoot.

When onychomycosis is mild, it can often be treated at home with over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments. However, more severe cases may require prescription medication and medical care. To prevent reinfection in mild cases, it is important to maintain good foot hygiene practices such as cleaning and drying feet thoroughly after bathing and changing socks daily if one’s feet are prone to sweating.

Types of Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis is an infection of the toenail or fingernail caused by fungi and is one of the most common nail diseases. The condition can be divided into four distinct types: distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO), white superficial onychomycosis (WSO), proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO), and candidal onychomycosis.

  • Distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO) is the most common type and typically causes discoloration and separation of the nail from the nail bed, called “onycholysis.”
  • White superficial onychomycosis (WSO) affects only the surface layer of the nail and can cause white spots to appear.
  • Proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO) attacks under a fold near the base of a toenail, causing thickening and discoloration.
  • Candidal onychomycosis is caused by yeast, not fungi, and causes thick, yellow patches to form over both fingernails and toenails.

No matter which type of Onychomycosis you have it is important that treatment be undertaken immediately as leaving it untreated can lead to more serious infections with stronger fungi or bacterial infections in addition to potential permanent damage to your nails or even worse conditions like crippling arthritis from nail fungus.

Causes of Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis, also known as nail fungus, is a common fungal infection of the nails that can be caused by different types of fungi. It is most commonly caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungus that lives on the surface of the skin and nails. Onychomycosis can also be caused by yeast and molds.

Let’s look at the main causes of this condition:


Trauma to the nail is one of the common causes of onychomycosis. Nails can be damaged from any number of sources, from stubbing a toe to dropping something heavy on the nail. Traumatic events can cause damage to the nail or even break it off entirely, leaving an open wound that’s vulnerable to fungal infection.

Another common cause of trauma-related onychomycosis is repetitive irritationrubbing or cutting your nails too short, or wearing ill-fitting shoes that pinch and rub your nails. In addition to creating an opening for fungal spores to invade, these mechanical irritations can also weaken the strength and integrity of your nails, making them more susceptible to future infections.

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene is one of the primary causes of onychomycosis, a fungal infection of the nail. Onychomycosis occurs when fungi, such as dermatophytes and yeasts, infects one or more nails. Poor hygiene includes:

  • Not washing your hands before touching your fingers or toes;
  • Not cleaning between your toes after showering or bathing;
  • Wearing uncomfortable shoes that trap sweat and moisture within them.

Fungal skin infections can also be passed on through close contact with someone who suffers from them. As such, people should take care to maintain good hygiene practices to help prevent the spread of foot fungus in a family or other social setting.

Additionally, people should wear adequately fitting shoes and practice daily foot care that includes changing socks regularly and cleaning between toes with an anti-fungal solution to help reduce their chances of developing onychomycosis.

Excessive moisture

Excessive moisture can lead to Onychomycosis, or nail fungus. When the nails are exposed to too much water, it can create an ideal environment for fungus to grow and spread. As a result, individuals who swim or partake in activities that involve frequent exposure to water should always try and wear protective gear such as gloves or shoes that cover their feet while they are swimming.

Moisture can also be caused by certain medical conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, and athlete’s foot. Similarly, wearing tight-fitting shoes or socks that aren’t breathable can enable fungus to thrive in the warm and damp environment created by the fabric. Individuals with these types of medical conditions should consult with their doctor about treatment options for Onychomycosis.

Diagnosis of Onychomycosis

Diagnosis of onychomycosis is essential for the successful treatment of the condition. The common signs and symptoms of onychomycosis include discoloration of the nail, brittleness, and lifting of the nail. A clinical examination may be necessary to determine the presence of the fungus. Additional diagnostic tests including

  • skin scrapings,
  • nail clippings, and
  • magnification

may also be recommended in order to confirm the diagnosis.

Visiting a doctor

If you suspect you have onychomycosis, it is important that you visit a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and to discuss the most appropriate treatment plan. Your doctor may take a sample of the affected area, if needed, to better diagnose your condition.

During your consultation, they will discuss your current health status and lifestyle habits. This information will assist them in prescribing the best course of treatment for you. Your doctor may recommend using over-the-counter or prescription topical medications or oral antifungal medications for this condition. In some cases, laser or ultraviolet light therapy may be recommended to kill the fungus causing onychomycosis. If you are looking for ways to treat onycholysis at home, there are some home remedies and lifestyle changes you can try as well.

Only your doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis and ensure that your condition is properly treated with an appropriate course of action.


When a diagnosis of onychomycosis is suspected, a physician might order additional tests to confirm it. Depending on the type of fungus that’s causing the infection, a dermatophyte test may be performed wherein scrapings or clippings from infected nails are cultured in a laboratory to identify the specific fungus.

Other tests that might be done include a potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation, which involves removing material from the infected nail and then examining it under a microscope to look for fungal elements. In cases where fungal elements aren’t visible using KOH, your doctor might also order blood tests or take skin and nail samples for examination by an independent laboratory for additional analysis.

Treatment Options

Onychomycosis, or fungal infection of the nails, is usually treated with antifungal medications, either in topical or oral form. Other treatments may include laser therapy, topical treatments, and in some cases, surgical removal of the nail.

In this article, we will look at the various treatment options for onychomycosis and the potential risks associated with each:

Over the counter medications

Over the counter medications for onychomycosis include antifungal creams and ointments. These products can typically be found in most drugstores or pharmacies, and should be applied directly to the affected nail or skin. Topical over the counter antifungal creams and ointments work by killing off fungus, reducing inflammation, preventing the spread of infection, and helping the affected area heal.

The active ingredients in over-the-counter treatments can vary, but they often contain miconazole, clotrimazole, or econazole. For best results, it is important to follow instructions carefully while applying treatment as directed by your healthcare provider.

Prescription medications

Prescription medications for treating Onychomycosis are available from your physician or dermatologist. Types of medications may include topical antifungals, such as clotrimazole, or oral medications, such as terbinafine. These medications target the fungus and fight to eradicate it while also providing relief from symptoms associated with Onychomycosis, such as pain and discomfort.

Depending on the severity of your Onychomycosis, your doctor may recommend a combination of topical and oral antifungals. Additionally, some newer prescription antibiotics are being used to treat nail fungus more effectively than traditional treatments. Side effects vary depending on the type of medication being used but could range from nausea to liver damage in extreme cases.

It is important to always follow the dosage and usage instructions given by your doctor when taking prescription medication for treating Onychomycosis at home.

Natural remedies

Natural remedies are a promising treatment option for onychomycosis, commonly referred to as toenail fungus. Natural remedies have fewer side effects and the cost is usually lower compared to traditional treatments such as oral medications and topical creams.

Natural remedies range from:

  • Dietary changes
  • Topical applications of tea tree oil or oregano oil
  • Homeopathic treatments
  • Certain vitamins like zinc can be taken in order to boost the body’s ability to fight off the fungus.

While natural remedies may not be as effective as traditional treatments, they may provide an option for those who don’t want the hassle or side effects often associated with prescription medications. Furthermore, those who are pregnant or nursing may find natural remedy options a better choice due to the lack of potential harm from drug interactions during pregnancy or breastfeeding. As always, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before beginning any at-home treatment plan.

Preventing Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that can affect the nails and the skin surrounding them. To prevent the infection from occurring in the first place, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of infection. These include managing your diabetes, practicing good nail hygiene, and avoiding contact with contaminated surfaces.

Read on to learn more about preventative measures you can take to avoid developing onychomycosis:

Keep your nails dry

One of the most important steps you can take to prevent onychomycosis is to keep your nails as dry as possible. Moisture encourages the growth of fungi, so keeping your nails and the surrounding skin dry is critical in preventing fungal infections.

  • This can be done by keeping your hands and feet dry (especially between your toes) by drying them thoroughly with a clean cloth after washing or swimming, and by avoiding prolonged contact with water.
  • Additionally, you should avoid applying nail polish too often or for prolonged periods of time because nail polish can seal in moisture that fungi need to grow.
  • You should also wear protective footwear when walking in areas where fungi are known to exist (such as public pools, gyms, locker rooms, etc.).

Wear protective shoes

When it comes to preventing onychomycosis, one of the most important things you can do is wear protective shoes. Open-toed shoes and sandals are some of the most common causes of onychomycosis, as they expose your feet to a variety of fungi and bacteria that can enter your body through small cuts or scrapes.

Covering your feet with closed-toed shoes and socks (have them made out of breathable materials such as cotton) will help reduce your risk for onychomycosis. Additionally, using antifungal powder in areas that may be exposed to more moisture, such as the toe area, can help prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria.

Avoid biting your nails

Nail biting is a common issue that can help spread onychomycosis. Even if you don’t notice any nail fungus, putting your fingers in your mouth can spread bacteria and fungi from other surfaces to your nails, leading to an infection. So, avoiding the temptation of biting your nails is important if you wish to prevent onychomycosis.

It is also important to keep your hands clean and dry, as the moisture created by sweating can make it easier for fungal spores to take hold of the skin or nail. Therefore, showering with soap regularly and ensuring that you properly dry your feet afterwards can be beneficial in preventing onychomycosis. Aside from this, trimming and filing down your nails regularly can also reduce the risk of developing an infection by removing excess bacteria or fungi around the nail bed.

FAQs about: Treating Onychomycosis At Home

Q: What is the best way to treat onychomycosis at home?

A: To treat onychomycosis at home, you can apply antifungal creams, ointments, or lacquers directly to the nail. You can also use oral antifungal medications as prescribed by your doctor. Additionally, you can use natural remedies such as tea tree oil and vinegar to help treat the infection.

Q: How long does it take to treat onychomycosis at home?

A: Treatment time can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the type of medication or remedy being used. Generally, it can take up to 12 weeks to see results.

Q: Are there any risks associated with treating onychomycosis at home?

A: As with any medical treatment, there are some risks associated with self-treating onychomycosis at home. Over-the-counter treatments may not be strong enough to treat a severe infection and may cause skin irritation. Additionally, oral medications can interact with other medications and may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and headache.

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