Depending on the severity of the infection, there are different treatment options, including topical medications, oral antifungal medicines and surgery. Topical medications may be useful when the infection affects less than half the nail, states eMedicineHealth. Topical medications can include antifungal creams and medicated nail lacquers.
A typical nail lacquer used for fungal toe infections is ciclopirox. This treatment option requires that the nail lacquer be applied every day, and the treatment can last up to a year. However, this treatment is approximately 10 percent effective, notes Dr. Weil. Some creams used for toenail fungus include ketoconazole and terbinafine.
Although topical medicines may help, an oral antifungal medicine must also be used with it to kill the fungal infection. Fluconazole and itraconazole are some oral medicines prescribed by doctors. These medicines can take up to 4 months to work, but there are side effects associated with them, including liver damage, states Mayo Clinic.
For a severe fungal infection, different types of options are possible for nail removal, including using a chemical agent or surgery. Another option is laser treatment in conjunction with an antifungal cream.
The cause of toenail fungal infection is fungi that grow in a warm and moist environment, such as inside shoes. Mild cases of nail fungal infections may not cause any symptoms, but a severe infection can cause nails to become thick and yellow. Thickened nails can lead to pain. Treatment is important in this case. However, even when treatment cures the infection, a fungal infection can reoccur in the future.