What About Alternative Treatments?

Paints, lacquers and oils.

Other fungus treatments such as lacquers and oils may be used, but need to be applied very diligently to the affected nails over a long period of time and may have only a 10% success rate. Examples include tea tree oil, which is a natural substance extracted from a plant native to Australia. However, the treatment of fungal infections by this method can be long and laborious so many people do not continue long enough with it to see any potential benefits.

Another topical antifungal medication is called ciclopirox or Penlac™. This involves painting onto the infected nails and skin once a day, then after seven days removing with alcohol and reapplying. Used daily like this for about a year it has been shown to bring results in some cases of nail fungus infection.

In addition to these examples, there are many other natural remedies and branded topical fungus treatments available either over the counter or on prescription.

Oral Medication

Oral medication may also be taken, but GPs are often reluctant to prescribe these potent drugs, that need to be taken daily, as liver damage can be a possible side effect. For this reason a liver function test must be carried out whilst on the medication. This nail treatment method is successful in 60-67% of cases.

The most widely prescribed oral fungus treatments of this sort are terbinafine (Lamisil ™) and itraconazole (Sporanox™). Patients are often prescribed these drugs for up to twelve weeks and it could take several months to clear an infection. You won’t know for sure if it has worked until the nail has completely grown back. As these drugs are not effective in treating all kinds of onychomycosis, it is important that the right diagnosis is made before starting treatment.

As well as potential liver damage if not monitored carefully, side effects of antifungal drugs can include skin rashes and upset stomach. Doctors may not prescribe these for patients with liver conditions, heart disease or for patients who are already taking other medications.


If your nail is badly infected or very painful your doctor may suggest removing it. The nail will normally slowly grow back over the course of up to a year.

Our team of podiatrists each has over 20 years’ experience of diagnosing and treating fungal nail infections. We were at the forefront of adopting laser technology as the practical, safe and effective alternative to these methods.

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