Q: Help! I have ugly toenail fungus. I don’t want to take an antifungal pill as I’m afraid of toxic side effects. Is there a natural alternative?
A: I see lots of toenail fungus in the office. It’s a common problem that increases with aging!
The preferred conventional oral treatment is Sporanox pulse therapy daily for a week followed by a three-week rest, repeated for three months. A clipped nail sample should be sent for culture before treatment. Expect a 60% to 70% cure rate. It’s unsafe for people with heart disease, may damage the liver, and interacts with other drugs. So your doctor has to watch carefully!
Consider tea tree oil, a safe natural over-the-counter remedy. It’s a powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent. Apply with a clean Q-tip twice a day. Use for three to six months. Be sure to keep your nails trimmed.
Tea tree oil may not have as high a cure rate as Sporanox and it’s not as well studied…because it’s not a drug! However, if it works for you, you’re in business.
A safe but pricier topical treatment available by prescription is Penlac. Apply twice a day for eight to twelve months.
To prevent toenail fungus, avoid tight-fitting shoes. Wear flip-flops in communal showers and dry thoroughly. Apply antifungal powder to soles of feet and in between toes.
Dr. Alan Inglis
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