How to Fight Nail Fungus: Effective Strategies for Healthy Nails

Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, can be an unwelcome and persistent problem. Characterized by discolored, thickened, and sometimes brittle nails, this condition affects both fingernails and toenails. Fortunately, several strategies can help combat nail fungus effectively. Here’s a comprehensive guide to fighting nail fungus and achieving healthier nails.

Understanding Nail Fungus

Nail fungus is caused by various fungal organisms, with dermatophytes being the most common culprits. The condition can also be triggered by yeasts and molds. It often starts as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the nail and can spread deeper, leading to nail discoloration, thickening, and crumbling edges.

Preventative Measures

  1. Maintain Good Hygiene:
    • Wash your hands and feet regularly.
    • Keep your nails short, dry, and clean.
    • Avoid walking barefoot in communal areas such as gyms, locker rooms, and pools.
  2. Wear Breathable Footwear:
    • Opt for shoes made of breathable materials to reduce moisture buildup.
    • Change socks regularly, especially after sweating.
  3. Avoid Sharing Personal Items:
    • Do not share nail clippers, files, or footwear.
    • Use sanitized tools for manicures and pedicures.

Home Remedies

  1. Tea Tree Oil:
    • Known for its antifungal properties, applying tea tree oil directly to the affected nail twice daily can help.
    • Use a cotton swab to apply a few drops of undiluted tea tree oil.
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar:
    • Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water to create a soaking solution.
    • Soak the affected nails for 30 minutes daily.
  3. Baking Soda:
    • Create a paste with baking soda and water and apply it to the affected nail.
    • Alternatively, add baking soda to your shoes to absorb moisture.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

  1. Antifungal Nail Creams and Ointments:
    • Look for creams containing clotrimazole or terbinafine.
    • Apply as directed, usually after soaking the nails to soften them.
  2. Medicated Nail Polish:
    • Products like ciclopirox (Penlac) can be applied daily to the nail and surrounding skin.

Prescription Treatments

  1. Oral Antifungal Medications:
    • Medications such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or itraconazole (Sporanox) can help eliminate the fungus from within.
    • These are typically prescribed for 6 to 12 weeks but might require several months to see full results.
  2. Topical Antifungal Treatments:
    • Prescription-strength topical treatments can be more effective than over-the-counter options.
    • These are often used in conjunction with oral medications.
  3. Laser Therapy:
    • Laser treatment is a newer option that uses focused light to destroy the fungus.
    • It’s a relatively painless procedure with promising results.

Lifestyle and Dietary Adjustments

  1. Boost Your Immune System:
    • A strong immune system can help fight off fungal infections.
    • Ensure a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E and biotin.
  2. Stay Hydrated:
    • Drink plenty of water to maintain overall nail health.
  3. Avoid Nail Trauma:
    • Be gentle with your nails to avoid creating entry points for fungi.

When to See a Doctor

  • If home remedies and over-the-counter treatments do not show improvement within a few weeks.
  • If the nail becomes increasingly painful, red, or swollen.
  • If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, as nail fungus can lead to more serious complications.


Fighting nail fungus requires a combination of good hygiene practices, home remedies, over-the-counter treatments, and, in some cases, prescription medications. By adopting these strategies and maintaining a proactive approach, you can restore your nails to their healthy state and prevent future infections. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options tailored to your specific condition.