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Fungal Nail Infections (cont.)

Prevention

After your fungal nail infection has been successfully treated, take steps to prevent the infection from recurring.

  • Before bed, thoroughly wash and dry your feet or hands and apply a topical antifungal, such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or ciclopirox (Penlac), directly to your skin or nail. Use the topical medicine for 1 year.5
  • Keep your feet and hands dry. Dry skin and nails are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your dry feet or hands after you take a shower or bath.
  • Wear dry cotton socks and change them 2 or 3 times a day if necessary.
  • Wear sandals or dry roomy shoes made of materials that allow moisture to escape. Injury to the tips of the toenails because of tight shoes may be the biggest single factor that leads to a fungal nail infection returning.5
  • Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when using a public pool or shower, and let them dry between uses.
  • Don't share shoes, socks, nail clippers, or nail files with others.
  • Avoid injuring your nail. Cutting nails too short is a common cause of nail injury. If you decide to get artificial nails or have a manicure, go to a salon that uses sterile instruments. Nail manicure and certain nail products can damage the nail or cuticle, making the nail more susceptible to infection.
  • Control chronic conditions such as diabetes.
  • Stop smoking.

Home Treatment

If you have a mild fungal nail infection or are concerned about the risks of oral antifungal medicine, try an antifungal medicine you put directly on your skin (topical medicine), such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or ciclopirox (Penlac). You can also use a topical antifungal to prevent athlete's foot, which can cause fungal nail infections. But topical medicines may not be as effective as oral medicines in treating fungal nail infections.

Some people consider tea tree oil or cream to be an effective alternative for treating and preventing athlete's foot and mild fungal nail infections.6 There is little research on how effective tea tree oil is for fungal nail infections.

After an infection has cleared up, use daily measures to prevent reinfection.

  • Before bed, thoroughly wash and dry your feet or hands and apply a topical antifungal, such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or ciclopirox (Penlac), directly to your skin or nail. Use the topical medicine for 1 year.5
  • Keep your feet and hands dry. Dry skin and nails are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your dry feet or hands after you take a shower or bath.
  • Wear dry cotton socks and change them 2 or 3 times a day if necessary.
  • Wear sandals or dry roomy shoes made of materials that allow moisture to escape. Avoid tight, enclosed shoes. Injury to the tips of the toenails because of tight shoes may be the biggest single factor that leads to a fungal nail infection returning.5
  • Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when using a public pool or shower, and let them dry between uses.
  • Don't share shoes, socks, nail clippers, or nail files with others.
  • Avoid injuring your nail. Cutting nails too short is a common cause of nail injury. If you decide to get artificial nails or have a manicure, go to a salon that uses sterile instruments. Nail manicure and certain nail products can damage the nail or cuticle, making the nail more susceptible to infection.
  • Control chronic conditions such as diabetes.
  • Stop smoking.
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