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Treatments for toenail fungus:
Over-the-Counter Treatments

Toenail fungus (onychomycosis) occurs when fungi, yeast or molds invade the nail. Feet offer to warm, moist environments, conditions which are ideal for the invading fungus to grow and thrive. The recommended treatment, particularly for severe cases of infection, is usually prescription antifungal medication, but over-the-counter (OTC) medications may provide relief in some cases.

Over-the-counter medications for toenail fungus have proven to be relatively ineffective when compared to prescription medications such as Lamisil, Sporanox and Diflucan. As prescription medication can be expensive and in rare cases yield serious side effects, such as rashes and liver damage, many people turn to over-the-counter products or household remedies.

Over-the-counter antifungal treatments take a variety of forms. In some OTC medications, the active ingredient is a synthetic compound such as clotrimazole or undecylenic acid. Others are based primarily on natural or herbal remedies such as tea tree oil. At least one widely marketed product, Zetaclear, is a homeopathic remedy. Homeopathic remedies are typically highly diluted containing only miniscule amounts of the compounds on which they are based.

Often, the products contain a proprietary blend of compounds, sometimes a synthetic compound combined with herbal remedies or sometimes only a combination of herbal and natural remedies. For example, FungiCure Anti-Fungal Liquid by Alva-Amco, contains undecylenic acid combined with Vitamin E and Aloe.

Some topical treatments are packaged and marketed particularly for treatment of nail fungus. Others are simply marketed as topical antifungals and are used for various types of fungal infections of the skin and nails including athletes' foot, ring worm and "jock itch."

The antifungal products aimed at treating nails may contain other ingredients, often specifically for the stated purpose of enhancing the medication's absorption through the largely impermeable nail plate. For example, Tineacide by Blaine Labs contains urea. Urea, in a concentrated preparation, is used to soften and remove the damaged nail.

It is very important to understand what medication a product contains. In some cases, it is recommended that certain antifungal products not be used if the person is taking specific prescription or non-prescription medicines where there is a possible interaction.

Side Effects of OTC Treatments of Toenail Fungus

There is a common misconception that topical over-the-counter antifungal treatments have no risks of side effects. Any medicine has some risks. While topical treatments don't carry the serious risks, such as liver damage, that the oral pharmaceuticals do, there are risks. The most common side effects of topical OTC antifungal treatments are skin rash, hives, blistering, burning, itching, peeling, redness, stinging, or swelling. If any of these symptoms is present, you should discontinue using the medication and, if the condition persists, consult a health care professional.

More information on OTC Treatments of Toenail Fungus

For more information on specific over-the-counter antifungal treatments for onychomycosis, follow the links below: