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Medications for Fungal Infections of the Nails


Nail fungus is often hard to treat, recurring infections are not unusual, and over-the-counter remedies are generally ineffective. As a result, your dermatologist may prescribe an oral medication, such as Terbinafine (brand name Lamisil®)  or Itraconazole (brand name Sporanox®), to treat the infection.

Using an Oral Medication

Your doctor may recommend an oral medication if you are diabetic or at risk for cellulitis, experience discomfort or pain in the infected area, or seek treatment because you consider the infection to be unsightly. Using such a medication will help you to grow a new nail that is free from fungus and gradually replaces the portion of your nail that has become infected. The results will not be evident until new nails grow in which can take 6 months for fingernails and twelve months for toenails. Like other medications, these anti-fungal drugs can also cause side effects that range from liver damage to skin rashes, and your doctor may hesitate to recommend them, based on your medical history.

Other Ways to Treat Nail Fungus

If your infection is not severe, your doctor may suggest treating the infection with Ciclopriox topical solution (brand name Penlac®), an anti-fungal nail polish that you will apply on a daily basis. After seven treatments, you will use alcohol to clean the nail and begin a new set of applications at once. Note that some patients have been successful in clearing their nail infections when they have used Penlac® for approximately a year.

Treating the Infection with Topical Cream

Your dermatologist may also recommend using a topical cream, along with a urea-based lotion that will enhance its absorption. Since topical creams are used to control nail infections rather than cure them, they can also be used with oral medications. At times, doctors also file the surface of the nail to reduce the infected area being treated and ensure that the topic cream will be effective.

Using Surgery to Treat the Infection

When a nail infection is extremely painful or quite severe, doctors sometimes suggest removing the entire nail. When this is done, a new nail may take an entire year to re-grow completely.



“PubMed Health – Terbinafine.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2010.

“PubMed Health – Itraconazole.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2010.

“Nail Fungus: Treatments and Drugs –” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2010.

“PubMed Health – Ciclopirox Topical Solution.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2010.

“Disease, Condition, & Injury Fact Sheets | NYU Langone Medical Center.” NYU Langone Medical Center . N.p., n.d. Web. 22 June 2010.

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