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Topical Nail Care Solutions

Topical Nail Care Solutions
When it comes to treating onychomycosis, or nail fungus, topical nail care solutions are an affordable and easily accessible option. Because there are several brands that are available without a prescription, many people try these products in an attempt to avoid going to the doctor’s office.

The three most common over-the-counter antifungal solutions are Lamisil (terbinafine), Lotrimin (clotrimazole), Tinactin (tolnaftate) and Micatin (miconazole). Lamisil, Tinactin and Micatin are available as creams, gels, sprays or solutions. Lotrimin comes in a lotion, cream or solution. They are sold under numerous brand names. All of these products are classed as antifungals, and they are designed to be applied to the nail and the skin surrounding the nail to kill fungal infections. In general, topical nail care solutions are one of the least effective methods of treating onychomycosis. Over-the-counter topical solutions are the weakest products available, and they are only effective a small percentage of the time.

How Topical Nail Care Solutions Work

The active ingredients in over-the-counter topical solutions for nail fungus are intended to weaken cell membranes, causing fungal cells to leak out. This eventually leads to the death of the fungus. Many of these products contain other ingredients that are intended to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms that are often associated with fungal infections such as burning, itching or cracking of the skin.

Are Topical Nail Care Solutions Effective?

Fungal infections live beneath the surface of the nail. Because the nails are designed to protect the skin on the tops of the fingers and toes, they are very durable. As a result, it can be extremely difficult for topical medications to actually penetrate the nail and reach the site of the infection. In cases of moderate to severe nail fungus, over-the-counter topical nail care solutions often do not work. Prescription solutions are available, and they often contain the same ingredients as their over-the-counter counterparts. The difference, however, is that the concentrations are much higher. Prescription strength topical treatments are more likely to clear fungal infections than over-the-counter methods.

In addition to prescription-strength versions of medications that are available over-the-counter, there are several other prescription antifungal medications that are applied topically. Topical antifungal medications that are only available by prescription include ciclopirox, econazole, ketoconazole and oxiconazole. Each is used to treat different types of fungus. Econazole, ketoconazole and oxiconazole are effective in clearing fungal nail infections caused by yeasts or dermaphytes. Ciclopriox is usually only used to treat cases of superficial onychomycosis that resides on the surface of the nail rather than under the nail and is effective in as many as 30% of cases. Prescription topical nail care solutions are more effective than over-the-counter products, but they still are less effective than other treatments such as oral medication or laser treatments.

Topical antifungal medications are often seen as a good first step in trying to get rid of nail fungus. When they work, they can save you a considerable amount of money when compared to the cost of other treatments. They are also much safer than oral medications, and, when used regularly, they can prevent reinfection.

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