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Nail Fungus Causes and Treatment: How to Get Rid of it?

Nail Fungus Causes and Treatment: How to Get Rid of it?

Are you wondering why you have a fungal nail infection and how you can get rid of it? Check out this article to learn about nail fungus causes and treatment.

Nail Fungus Causes


The primary cause of fungal nail infection is from fungi growing in, on, or under the nail. Fungi tend to thrive in moist, warm environments. That is why it can be more common to get a toenail fungal infection than a fingernail fungal infection. Your feet may trap moisture if you’re in socks and shoes all day.

The fungus that causes nail fungal infection is the same one that can cause ringworm, athlete’s foot, and jock itch. If you already have cases of the mentioned, then there is a great possibility that it can infect your nails.

Contact with people with the infection

It is possible to get a fungal nail infection from another person. However, it is rather uncommon. You can contract the infection, for example, if you get a manicure or pedicure at salon and the same tools used on a person with the infection were used on you. The fungal infection can transfer if tools were not sanitized properly.

Healthy Nails vs Unhealthy Nails: The Signs to Spot

Chances of Getting Nail Fungus

The true cause of a nail fungal infection is fungi, but certain factors can increase your risk for developing the infection, like:

  • Having a chronic medical condition, for example: diabetes, which put you at risk for infections due to poor immune response.
  • Weakened immune system in people who have comorbidities such as diabetes, cancer, peripheral artery disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.
  • Going into a public swimming pool
  • Nail injury (fungus can easily go under the nail)
  • Skin injury around a nail
  • Having moist toes or fingers for an extended period; this is particular in people who handle fish, laundry, and other related occupations, etc.
  • Wearing closed-toe shoes, like boots or tennis shoes

One study found that men are more likely to get a fungal nail infection than women. The same study also found that people with family members who frequently get fungal infections were likely to contract them, too.

Being older (65 years or older) can also raise your risk of a nail fungal infection. Older adults tend to have weaker immune systems and poorer circulation.

nail fungus causes and treatment

Nail Fungus Treatments

Oral medications

Typically, a doctor will prescribe oral medications to help treat your nail fungus. Doctors usually prefer oral medications over topical drugs because oral medication delivers quicker results.

A doctor may recommend that you take the medicine for 6-12 weeks. However, you may not see the final result until the nail fully grows back. And it might take around four months or so until the infection is fully gone.

Treatment also depends on how long the patient has had the infection and the severity. Some may just require oral meds, while others, topical.

Some examples of oral medication for nail fungus include:

  • Itraconazole
  • Terbinafine
  • Fluconazole

However, oral medications may not be an option for everyone. For instance, a doctor may not prescribe them if you have congestive heart failure or liver disease. Some people may also experience side effects from oral medications, like liver damage or skin rashes.

Medicated nail cream

Some doctors give their patients antifungal cream. Typically, you soak the infected nail first, then rub the cream into it.

However, you may need to make the nail thinner before using the nail cream. Some lotions that have urea may thin your nails. Otherwise, a doctor may use a tool like a file to make the nail surface thinner.


In some cases, a doctor may have to surgically remove the infected nail. They may do this to directly apply the antifungal medication under the nail.

Additionally, not everyone will respond to medication. Therefore, a doctor may suggest permanent nail removal, especially if the infection is painful or severe.

Home Remedies for Nail Fungus

You may try the following home remedies to address your case of nail fungus. However, always do so under the supervision of your doctor. No scientific basis has been established and more research is needed.

Mentholated topical ointment

Surprisingly, mentholated topical ointments could help treat nail fungus. One study asked 18 people to use it to treat their nail fungal infection for 48 weeks. Fifteen people experienced a positive treatment effect, and all 18 participants said they were satisfied or very satisfied with how their nails looked after the treatment.

Ozonized oils

Oils infused with gases, like sunflower oil and olive oil, could greatly benefit people with nail fungus. One study asked people to use ozonized sunflower oil to treat their nail fungal infection. About 90.5% of the people said the ozonized oils cured the condition, while 9.5% said it improved their condition.

Snakeroot extract

Snakeroot extract can also be beneficial for people with nail fungus. A study found that it can be as effective as a specific antifungal treatment (ciclopirox).

Key Takeaways

Nail fungus causes and treatment may seem simple and straightforward. But as will all types of medical conditions, it is best to first consult your doctor. They are in the best position to diagnose and prescribe the treatment for your case.

Learn more about Nail Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Nail fungus: Overview, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/symptoms-causes/. Accessed January 6, 2020

Tinea pedis and onychomycosis frequency in diabetes mellitus patients and diabetic foot ulcers, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5017097/ Accessed January 6, 2020

Fungal Nail Infections, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047123/ Accessed January 6, 2020

Nail fungus – Diagnosis and treatment, 6 January, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/diagnosis-treatment/d. Accessed January 6, 2020

Novel Treatment of Onychomycosis using Over-the-Counter Mentholated Ointment, https://www.jabfm.org/content/24/1/69.full Accessed January 6, 2020

Therapeutic efficacy of topical OLEOZON® in patients suffering from onychomycosis, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1439-0507.2010.01898.x Accessed January 6, 2020

Double-blind clinical trial for evaluating the effectiveness and tolerability of Ageratina pichinchensis extract on patients with mild to moderate onychomycosis,  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18671197/ Accessed January 6, 2020

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Written by Den Alibudbud Updated May 05
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.