how to use topicals to get rid of toenail fungusYou have toenail fungus. You've done your research and you're still pretty confused by all information out there. You know you want to use a topical treatment but there are so many choices-- everything from tea tree oil, to homeopathic remedies, to Jublia. Which one should you choose?

Get Your Nails Tested

First, before you can decide how to treat your nails it's important to determine if your nails have fungus. As a Seattle podiatrist who sees a lot of toenail fungus, I often send my patients nails to a lab to be tested. Once I know its fungus then I work with my patients to determine the best strategy for them.

What to Expect From Topicals

Over the years, there have been many different topical medications prescribed for treatment of fungal nails. Unfortunately, the success rate called, “complete cure” (killing the fungus plus restoring a normal appearing nail) is often very low (about 20%). That's why I typically don't advise my patients to choose this method by itself if they want a greater chance of having clear nails. 

As of 2021, we are now recommending a newer topical called Tolcylen, which is much more effective than other fungal nail products. 

How to Get the Most Out of Topicals

So although I don't recommend using topicals alone, if you choose to go this route here are ways to obtain better results:

  • Treat your nails with the topical daily for 9-12 months (it can take that long for your nail to grow out)
  • Disturb the top of the nails (a brief, light rubbing) daily with an emery board; this will also help with topical penetration.
  • Kill the fungus harbored in your shoes by using an ultraviolet shoe sanitizer on a daily basis.
  • Treat the skin around the nails with a topical antifungal (i.e. Lamisil, Tinactin) to minimize the exposure of the nails to fungus in the skin.

If you've tried using topicals alone and are dissatisfied with the results, call us 206-368-7000. We use the Pinpoint FootLaser™ in addition to topicals and a shoe sanitizer for the best results in getting rid of toenail fungus.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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