Prescription oral medications that help eliminate nail fungus include terbinafine, sold under brand name Lamisil, and itraconazole, the generic form of Sporanox, according to Mayo Clinic. Prescriptions for the medicated nail polish ciclopirox, sold under brand name Penlac, and antifungal cream are also options.
A prescription for terbinafine or itraconazole typically lasts six to 12 weeks, Mayo Clinic states. These drugs allow the new nail to grow without becoming infected. A complete, fungus-free nail typically takes at least four months to develop fully. Terbinafine or itraconazole are not as successful when patients are more than 65 years old. Use of oral and topical prescriptions enhance treatment.
Oral medications have certain side effects, including skin rash and liver damage, reports Mayo Clinic; therefore, doctors do not often prescribe them to people with underlying medical conditions, such as liver disease or congestive heart failure. Doctors sometimes use blood tests to monitor patients' reactions to the drugs.
Once a day, the patient brushes the medicated nail polish ciclopirox onto nails and adjacent skin, Mayo Clinic explains. Each week, she removes the layers, and the process begins anew. Some patients must use ciclopirox for an entire year to eradicate the fungus. In another approach, the patient massages medicated cream into the affected area after soaking the nails . To enhance this process, the doctor first thins the nails by filing, or the patient applies a urea lotion to thin the affected nails.