For people who don’t want to take oral drugs, there are some topical treatments. An antifungal lacquer is painted onto the nail and surrounding skin (like nail polish) once a day. The treatment is generally continued for a year. Topical antifungal creams are another option. Topical treatments are less effective than oral medications. But they may be preferred for patients who can’t/won’t take oral medications. In some cases, topical medications may be used in combination with oral drugs.
Dermatologist, Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., says patients can try some home remedies. Although they may not be as effective as oral medications, the treatments are less toxic. Tree tea oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) contains antifungal and antiseptic compounds. It must be applied two to three times a day. It can take six months to have an effect on fingernails and 12 months for toenails. Oil of oregano is reported to also have some antifungal properties, but may cause skin irritation in some people. White vinegar soaks are used by some people to fight fungal infections. However, there is little science to back up these claims.
Ciraldo says vinegar may be a better option for nails that are green, which is more likely a bacterial infection. Bleach is not recommended for fighting nail infections. Although bleach can kill fungi, it is very damaging to the skin and cuticle and can affect re-growth of the nail. Ciraldo says an important part of fighting fungal nail infections is to keep the affected nails dry. Use a hairdryer on the nails after taking a shower or bath. Athletes should use a hairdryer on the toenails after working out to eliminate perspiration. She also recommends people who wash their hands frequently use an antibacterial gel rather than soap and water.