How Do You Treat Toenail Fungus That Keeps Coming Back?

Toenail fungus can cause your nails to thicken and discolor, making you feel self-conscious about wearing sandals or going barefoot. Unfortunately, it's also incredibly difficult to treat—the fungus is wedged in between your toenail and the nail bed underneath, so it's difficult to reach it with antifungal agents like iodine or creams. Your toenail fungus will keep reproducing and returning if you don't manage to destroy it all. If your toenail fungus keeps coming back, read on to learn how you can finally keep it away. 

Avoid Reinfecting Your Nails

When you're treating toenail fungus, it's important to make sure that you don't keep accidentally reintroducing the fungus to your nails. The fungus can rub off on any surface that your toe comes into contact with, and you may keep reinfecting yourself with the fungus unless you take steps to destroy it.

Every time you take off your shoes, you should scrub the inside of them with isopropyl alcohol to kill any fungus that may have rubbed off your toenail, and wash your socks in hot water after taking them off. You should also soak your nail trimmers in isopropyl alcohol between uses in order to destroy any fungus that may have transferred to them after using them to trim your nails.

Take Oral Antifungal Medication

One of the reasons why toenail fungus is difficult to treat is that it hides on the underside of your toenail. It's difficult for over-the-counter topical antifungal medication to penetrate your toenail in order to kill the fungus. Oral antifungal medication is typically more effective since it will circulate throughout your entire body whenever you take it, including the nail bed underneath your toenail.

You can get oral antifungal medication by scheduling an appointment with a podiatrist. They'll take a sample of your toenail and test it in order to determine if your symptoms are caused by fungus. If you have nail fungus, they'll discuss possible treatment options, including the use of oral antifungal medication to destroy the fungus that's under your toenail.

Use Laser Treatment to Quickly Kill the Fungus

A podiatrist can also use laser treatment to kill the fungus that's underneath your toenail. The laser penetrates through your toenail and heats up your nail bed, and the fungus will die if it's exposed to high heat. Laser treatment is a quicker option to kill the fungus than oral antifungal medication, but it's more expensive. It also may require you to undergo multiple treatments until all of the fungi have been eradicated.

Get Surgery as a Last Resort

The quickest way of all to get rid of toenail fungus is to surgically remove the infected toenail. A podiatrist will numb your toe with an injection and then cut the infected toenail off. If the fungus has spread to the very base of your toe, the podiatrist will also remove the nail matrix located there. The nail matrix is where your toenail starts growing. If it's infected by fungus, it will spread to your toenail when it starts growing again. Removing your toenail is the most drastic option to treat a nail infection, but it may be necessary if no other treatment method works or if your nail infection is very painful.

Nail fungus is difficult to treat, and many over-the-counter remedies are inadequate because they can't penetrate the toenail in order to kill the fungus. If you've been unsuccessful in treating your toenail fungus at home, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist and ask them about your treatment options. You and your podiatrist will discuss whether oral antifungal medication, surgery, or laser treatment will be your best option for treatment. If you opt for antifungal medication or laser treatment, make sure you clean your shoes and socks well to avoid reintroducing fungus to your toenail or spreading it to your other toes.

Contact a local podiatrist to learn more.