There are two broad categories for nail fungus treatment: 1) oral (systemic) medications such as Lamisil or Diflucan prescribed by your doctor, and 2) Topical treatments in the form of creams and nail lacquers (e.g Loceryl, Funginix, ZetaClear and Nail-Rx) that are applied directly to the affected nail(s). (Toenail fungus home remedies are also available.)
If you are in the process of treating a nail fungus infection topically, you’ll know that treatment times are long (averaging around 6 months for fungus fingernails and 12 months for toenail infections) and you have to stick to a schedule of application (sometimes twice-daily) without interruption. It can get frustrating as days and weeks can go by without you noticing any improvement.
So here’s a method that can help.
It involves setting a baseline and tracking the changes in your infection and appearance of your nails over the course of the treatment. This will help you monitor progress and should encourage you to stick to the treatment schedule. But remember to check with your doctor if you have a nail fungus. And, before applying any treatment, make sure you read, understand and follow the instructions provided with your product. Note also that some of the home remedies are ‘experimental’ and not ‘designed’ for the treatment of nail fungus.
Sticking to your nail fungus treatment
First, get out your diary or electronic calendar at the start of your treatment and mark a big X. Then add another X (or set a reminder) every subsequent month for 6 months.
Then either draw a nail-shape on a piece of paper and photocopy it 6 times or download and print out our nail fungus treatment template, using the links below. We have two templates to choose from:
- Simple nail fungus treatment tracker – this tracks the extent to which the nail has been infected
- Detailed nail fungus treatment tracker – in addition to tracking the extent to which the nail has been infected, there is space for additional information on the health of the nail such as it’s color and texture.
At the beginning of your treatment, and once a month thereafter, shade in the area of your nail affected by the fungus. And, if using the detailed template, make brief notes on the color, texture brittleness and overall appearance of your nail.
Then, work out a treatment routine to help you remember to apply the treatments on a regular basis. For example if your treatment requires a nighttime application, try to insert this into your nightly routine. For example, shower – brush teeth – apply nail fungus treatment – go to bed. (I’ve found wrapping a ribbon around my toothbrush reminds me that I need to apply the treatment straight after I’ve brushed my teeth.) Topical treatments will only work if the antifungal medications they contain are able to penetrate the nail and reach the fungus. If you can, scrape away any thickened surface areas of nail above the fungus to assist this penetration and allow the treatment to dry completely over the surface of the nail.
Remember that you may need longer than 6 months to cure the condition, as you’re only completely free of infection after a full nail growth cycle. A fungus toenail can take up to 18 months to grow our completely. Fingernails are faster – at around 6 months. But if you persevere with your treatment and are consistent you’ll ensure you get rid of those unsightly yellow nails once and for all. You can always print out more templates to help track this ‘growing out’ period as well.
Note that similar guidance also applies when applying antifungal cream to deal with other fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot, Jock Itch or Ringworm. Continue treating even after all visible signs of the infection have disappeared. When it comes to ringworm cure for example this means that you’ll be applying a topical antifungal cream to where your ringworm used to be.