Fungal nail infection & fungal nail treatment
Complete guide (2020)

Published on: 09-05-2020
Fungal nail infection & fungal nail treatment | Complete guide (2020)

If you are suffering from a fungal nail infection. Chances are you have had it for a long time, tried several fungal nail treatments and failed. So how do you get rid of this fungal nail infection?

The truth is: treating a fungal nail infection isn't easy!

In this complete guide we will outline all do's and dont's for succesful fungal nail diagnose, tips and treatment.

Curious? Keep on reading!

In this article:

  1. What causes fungal nail infection?
  2. Fungal nail symptoms
  3. General Practitioner (GP)
  4. Podiatrist
  5. NHS information
  6. Fungal nail pictures
  7. The secret to succesful fungal nail treatment
  8. What helps against fungal nail infections?
  9. Home Remedies
  10. Medication
  11. Laser treatment
  12. Creams and ointments
  13. Medical nail solution
  14. Treatment tips
  15. Prevention
  16. ProtectAir
  17. Cost of fungal nail treatment?
  18. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  19. Resources: scientific whitepapers and case studies

What causes fungal nail infections?

How did I get this nail infection?

Fungal nail infections are caused by fungi that naturally exist on your body. Fungal nail infections are very common.

The fungal nail infection starts when bad fungi have a good warm and moist breeding environment, which allows them to thrive. Fungal nail usually starts starts with athlete's foot which - when nails are damaged - can infect your nails.

There are several ways your fungal nail infection could have started. Many simple precautions can be taken to prevent infections on your feet, hands and nails. These precautions, combined with good personal hygiene and being aware of the risks of fungal nail infection, will surely help in minimising (future) infections.

Sources of fungal infections

Even though it is very hard to determine exactly what could have caused your fungal nail infection. We will summarise some of the most common causes of fungal nail infections.

Fungal nail infection from your own skin

Your own skin

The surface of your skin is covered in bacteria and fungi, some good, some bad. This should not be a problem, we need the good ones to defend us from the bad ones. But when the bad fungus starts overgrowing, you increase the risk of skin and fungal nail infections.

When the skin becomes dry and damaged these fungus spores can penetrate the skin. Once nested in the upper layer of the skin, they can start infecting and cause a foot fungus infection (also called athlete's foot), which in turn can lead to nail infections.

  • Fungi exist naturally on your skin
  • Athlete's foot and fungal nail are caused by the same fungi
Fungal nail infection from your own shoes


Shoes are the number 1 reason you are getting skin and nail infections. Sweaty socks and shoes are an ideal breeding location for fungus. It thrives in warm, moist environments.

The moment you develop foot fungus (also called athlete's foot) the fungi could penetrate easily spread into your shoes and infect the (damaged) nails, causing toenail fungus.

A disinfecting shoe spray can prevent fungi to spread and protect your skin and nails against fungal infection.

  • Shoes are the #1 source of reinfection
  • Once infected, shoes need to be disinfected with a special shoe spray
Fungal nail infection from the shower

The shower

Fungi love damp and wet environments. Showers, saunas and swimming pools offer the ideal place for them to thrive. Unprotected feet are easily infected by walking on a surface that has not been cleaned properly and a fungal nail infection could be the result.

At home, clean your shower with chloride or vinegar regularly. This kills any fungi on the floor surface and prevents the spread of infection to other family members

  • Chloride or vinegar are very effective against fungi
  • Wear flips or sandals when you have an infection, to protect yourself and others against infection
Fungal nail infection from towels


Are you sharing towels at home? Stop doing that immediately! Towels are a great place for fungi to nest and infect your skin and nails. Use a clean towel every time and ensure to wash your towels at a minimum of 60°C. to prevent getting or spreading a fungal nail infection.

  • Most fungi don't survive 60°C.
  • Always use a clean towel and dry your infected nail last

Fungal nail infection symptoms

What does fungal nail look like?

In order to prevent the spread of the nail fungus infection (med.: onychomycosis or tinea unguium), it is important that you do not hestitate to take action in order to prevent the spread of the fungal infection to other nails.

As a rule, fungal nail infection can only be diagnosed at a very late stage. At the beginning it is difficult to recognise and just as difficult to treat. But don't wait for a mild case to get worse.

But when can you be sure that it is actually fungal nail infection? Below we have a selection of pictures of fungal nail infections.

You can recognize a fungal nail infection by the following symptoms:

  1. Thickened
  2. Discoloration: white, yellow or brownish
  3. Loose nail: debris building up under the nail
  4. Brittle or crumbly
  5. Distorted in shape
  6. Bad, foul smell

Fungal nail infection before and after

Start treatment as soon as you discover a nail infection! If you are unsure your nails are infected or simply damaged, always visit your GP. He can diagnose a fungal infection safely!

Fungal nail treatment at your GP

General Practitioner

Get the correct diagnose

Nail infections can only be properly diagnosed by your GP. By harvesting a sample of the infected nails and sending it to a laboratory, they can determine whether you are suffering from a fungus, mould or yeast infection.

After the correct diagnose has been made, your GP or specialist can advice you on which fungal nail treatment is best for your fungal nail infection.

Your GP can prescribe antifungal prescription tablets to treat the fungal infection from the inside. These tablets have serious side-effects[4] and are not suitable for everyone. Please visit your GP to get advice on which treatment is most suitable for you.

Treatment choices are often determined by budget, medical condition and personal preference.Which treatment is best for you, is mostly subject to your treatment loyalty.

Every treatment needs to be followed by the letter to be succesful.

Fungal nail treatment at the podiatrist


Professional fungal nail therapy

If you have severe fungal nail infection, it is adviced to visit a podiatrist for treatment. The podiatrist can get your treatment started by cleaning and preparing the nails for topical treatment with fungal nail solution.

During your home treatment a regular visit to the podiatrist is adviced, if your budget allows this ofcourse. Treatment by a podiatrist is usually not covered by the NHS and can be very costly.

Prices typically range from £30.00 - 55.00 per 30 minute treatment.

NHS Information

NHS information and tips about fungal nail

The NHS provides a wealth of information and advice to UK consumers and patients. They have very useful information on their website about fungal nail infections, diagnose and symptoms. Please find a summary of this advice below.


  • treat athlete's foot as soon as possible to avoid it spreading to nails
  • keep your feet clean and dry
  • wear clean socks every day
  • wear flip-flops in showers at the gym or pool
  • throw out or treat shoes


  • do not wear shoes that make your feet hot and sweaty
  • do not share towels
  • do not wear other people's shoes
  • do not share nail clippers or scissors

For more information, please visit the NHS website

Fungal nail pictures

Examples of fungal infections on toenails and fingernails

Example 1: picture of an infected nail
Example 2: picture of an infected nail
Example 3: picture of an infected nail
Example 4: picture of an infected nail
Example 5: picture of an infected nail
Example 6: picture of an infected nail
Example 7: picture of an infected nail
Example 8: picture of an infected nail
Example 9
Example 10
Example 11
Example 12

ProtectAir fungal nail treatment

The secret to succesful fungal nail treatment

How to get rid of fungal nail for good?

It does not matter which treatment you chose to get rid of your nail fungus and get beautiful nails. None of these treatments work if you don't follow 1 simple rule:


That's it? Yes! It's THAT simple.

To beat nail fungus you need to:

  1. Isolate the infection
  2. Chose a proven treatment method that works for you
  3. Prevent reinfection at all cost
  4. Treat consistently until the entire infection has grown out

No treatment will be succesful if you keep reinfecting your nails.
Prevent reinfection during treatment at all cost!

What helps against fungal nail infections?
(overview of all treatments)

Complete overview of antifungal treatment methods, home remedies and medicine

The internet is full of treatments, home remedies and grandma's tips on how to treat fungal nail. Prescription medicine, podiatrists, specialised clinics. Whatever your budget is, you can always find a way to treat your infected nails.

Below we will discuss the most popular options for treating fungal nail:

Home remedies against fungal nail

Treating from the comfort of your own home

Conventional home remedies such as vegetable oils, vinegar essences, salts, baking soda, toothpaste and even urine are presumed to kill fungi. Various testimonials and recipes for "natural" antifungal treatment alternatives for toenails and fingernails are circulating on the Internet.

Pure myth? Or maybe there is something there?

First of all, there are no scientific studies to date confirming its effectiveness against infections. In most cases, leading medical professionals even advise against this! Even though many of the agents actually have an anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effect, this is very low. You should therefore only use home remedies in very mild cases of nail fungus infections and never rely on their effects!

Home remedy: Vinegar against fungal nail


The acidity is said to kill fungus spores with a daily foot bath of 15 minutes. Dip your infected toenail in the vinegar and let it soak. After the treatment it is advised to rinse the feet with water.

Home remedy: Tea tree oil against fungal nail

Tea tree oil

The essential oil is said to reduce spore growth. With a cotton swab, affected areas should be treated with the oil 2-3 applications a day (sage and lavender oil can also be used as an alternative).

Home remedy: Baking Soda against fungal nail

Baking soda

Sprinkling an affected area should "dry out" the fungus. Alternatively, a paste can be made from baking soda and water, which is applied to the toenail.

Home remedy: Urine against fungal nail


The same active ingredient of urea[2] cream can also be found in a small dose in your healthy urine. It is believed that this dose is sufficient to kill fungus spores. (we would not recommend trying this *YUCK!*)

Home remedy: Toothpaste against fungal nail

Fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride is said to have a strong anti-fungal effect and therefore also helps against nail fungus.

Home remedy: Vicks Vaporub against fungal nail

Vicks Vaporub

Vicks Vaporub contains menthol and is mentioned everywhere on the internet for its antifungal properties and as a possible remedy for nail fungus. Don't get your hopes up. It probably won't do anything but leave your nails feel tingly cold and fresh... and still infected.

The use of home remedies may seem temptingly cheap and worth trying, but it does not mean negligible risks[6]:

  • You lose valuable time and delay the important treatment (spread can continue)
  • There is a risk that affected areas may be additionally irritated
  • There are isolated allergies to home remedies

Try at your own risk! We cannot guarantee health and safety using these home remedies.

Antifungal medication

Antifungal prescription tablets

If you are suffering from severe infections and your nail fungus has advanced so far that the growth zone of your nails are affected (white crescent moon at the bottom of the nail edge), systemic therapy with antifungal tablets is recommended in any case. Antifungal tablets are prescription-only and require a visit to your GP.

But be aware!

Antifungal are not suitable for everyone.

antifungal tablets


  • The active ingredient supports healing from the inside (through ingestion, it reaches the nail bed via the bloodstream)
  • Increases the chance of recovery


  • Only really effective in combination with medical antifungal nail polish
  • Side effects possible (including headache, itching, loss of taste, diarrhea)
  • Expensive if not covered by NHS
  • Pills are prescription only

People with heart, liver and kidney problems should not take antifungal tablets or pills. They can cause rare but dangerous side effects, including heart and liver failure. You may need testing every 4 to 6 weeks to check for liver, kidney, or heart damage, depending on which antifungal tablets you use..

Fungal nail laser treatment

Laser treatment at a specialised clinic

Laser treatment is another way of treating your nails. The laser heats the nail and kills the fungus. Scientific studies show that it can accelerate therapy, but so far only in combination with topical nail treatments.

Laser treatment against fungal nail


  • Professional treatment support and advice
  • Many approved podiatrists offer this treatment in their practice


  • Very expensive
  • Not scientifically proven to work
  • Statutory health insurance companies do NOT cover the costs
  • Treatment duration: Several months to one year

Fungal nail creams and ointments

Softens hardened nail to ease treatment

Cream against nail fungus can also be effective in certain cases. If the infected nail has hardened, external therapy with fungal nail solution is initially difficult. The use of a high-dose urea cream makes the nail more permeable and more receptive to further therapy.

Cream against fungal nail


  • Make application of fungal nail solution more effective


  • Only really effective in combination with fungal nail solution
  • Thickened areas can also be treated by filing
  • Warning: Do not use on brittle, crumbling nails

Home treatment with fungal nail solution

Medical nail polish treatment at home

Based on recent Scientific studies[3], topical fungal nail treatment with a medical fungal nail solution is the most effective way to treat fungal nail. If treated consistently it can support healthy nail growth quickly and prevent the spread of infection to other nails.

There are several brands available in your local drugstore, pharmacy and online. Websites like Amazon UK have a wide range of fungal nail treatments available.

Fungal nail treatment brush, nail polish


  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Widely available online and in-store
  • Very effective if done consistently


  • Requires consistent treatment daily
  • Not every brand is equally effective
  • Reinfection should be prevented at all times

Find the best product before starting your treatment. On you can find the top best fungal nail treatments in the UK based on verified, filtered and analysed consumer reviews.

Treatment tips to beat fungal nail

3 tips from our professional podiatrist

Tip 1
Get the correct diagnose!

This means, go to a specialist or your GP to ensure your treatment will really work for your infection.

Tip 2
Be consistent!

We cannot stress this tip enough. If you pause your treatment or don't follow treatment instructions to the letter, you might reinfect yourself, which means you have to start over!

Tip 3
Be patient!

Your treatment can easily take up to 1 year! Your nail has to fully grow out... until the time your nail has fully healed, you keep running the risk of reinfection.

Fungal nail prevention

A clean & hygenic environment for great results

Fungi and bacteria are everywhere! They are easily transported by sweat to other areas like socks, shoes and the shower. Usually this is no problem, but when suffering from fungal nail, you should be extra aware. Preventing reinfection, isolating the infection and proper treatment are key to fast recovery.

Top 10 prevention tips

  1. Keep feet dry & clean
  2. Disinfect your shoes with a shoe spray
  3. Clean your shower and bathtub with chloride or vinegar regularly
  4. Do not share towels and wash them at 60°C.
  5. Wear clean socks daily and wash them at 60°C.
  6. Wear flips or sandals in shower, sauna, swimming pool or locker room
  7. Do not reuse nail files
  8. Do not share nail clippers or sciccors
  9. Never wear shoes 2 days in a row, allow them to dry
  10. Never wear other people's shoes (you can even get or spread fungal nail from fitting shoes in a shoe store)

Try ProtectAir!

Complete fungal nail treatment + medical shoe spray

ProtectAir is a new and effective treatment that protects nails and shoes against fungal infections. This prevents re-infection, shortens treatment time and supports nail recovery. This is why Protectair is the bestselling treatment online in Europe.

Take a minute to watch this video

Cost of fungal nail treatment?

Treatment cost of 9 months fungal infection treatment

Although every fungal nail infection is different, 1 of our customers posted her treatment progress and cost on our blog. You can read the full article here: "This is how I got rid of my fungal nail!".

The total treatment cost for the 9 month treatment were substantially lower than generic over the counter treatments available from Boots, Superdrug or your local pharmacy.

Fungal nail treatment kitWeek 1£ 21.95
Fungal nail polishWeek 6£ 13.95
Fungal nail treatment discountWeek 12£ 28.95
Fungal nail treatment cheapWeek 24£ 28.95
TotalWeek 35£ 93.90

For a complete list of all the best-rated fungal treatments in the UK in please visit

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Your questions, our answers

  1. What is the fastest home remedy for toenail fungus?

    If you are looking for the fastest, most effective way to get rid of toenail fungus: ProtectAir fungal nail starterkit is the only treatment on the market, actively protecting against reinfection. Making it the fastest way to treat toenail fungus at home.

  2. How long does it take until the fungal nail is completely healed?

    It could take anywhere from several weeks to over 1 year to treat fungal nail. The duration of treatment of nails depends very much on the severity of the infection, the stage of your nail's destruction and the chosen treatment method. In any case, treatment with fungal nail polish is recommended for fast recovery.

  3. Does fungal nail heal by itself over time?

    No! You won't get rid of your fungal nail infection without treatment.

  4. Which remedy works best against fungal nail?

    Scientific studies[1] show that the best and most effective method for nail fungus so far is the treatment with a topical fungal nail solution[5]. In addition, long-term care of nails and shoes is highly recommended.

  5. Can I cover a fungal nail with a regular nail polish?

    No! Do not use regular nail polish during the entire treatment. If you want to use nail polish during treatment, you should only use special breathable nail polish. This will prevent further nail damage.

  6. Are athlete's foot and nail fungus caused by the same fungi?

    Yes! In most cases, fungal nail infection is a result of untreated athlete's foot (foot fungus). Therefore, treat every small form of athlete's foot directly to prevent infection of your nails. Protect yourself against athlete's foot by always keeping socks, shoes and feet clean and dry.

  7. What happens if I treat nails that are not affected by nail fungus?

    Probably not much. If you are unsure, see a doctor. This is necessary for prescription drugs anyway. Fungal nail solution, such as Protectair can be used safely at any time. Above all, they prevent reinfection too.

  8. Is fungal nail contagious?

    Fungal nail infection is very contagious and does not heal itself! If left untreated, the infection can easily spread and infect other nails or even other people! Be sure to always wear flip-flops or sandals in public places such as the swimming pool, sauna, or gym.

  9. How dangerous is nail fungus?

    You shouldn't take nail fungus lightly. Not only does it look unattractive, it can also cause more serious health issues. You should absolutely prevent the spread of the fungus to other parts of the body. The longer you delay a treatment, the more complex it becomes.


Supporting scientific whitepapers and case studies

[1] Monod, Michel, and Bruno Méhul. "Recent findings in onychomycosis and their application for appropriate treatment." Journal of Fungi 5.1 (2019): 20.

[2] Dars, S., H. A. Banwell, and L. Matricciani. "The use of urea for the treatment of onychomycosis: a systematic review." Journal of Foot and Ankle Research 12.1 (2019): 22.

[3] Lipner, Shari R., and Richard K. Scher. "Onychomycosis: Topical Therapy and Devices." Scher and Daniel’s Nails. Springer, Cham, 2018. 173-183.

[4] Gupta, Aditya K., et al. "Monotherapy for toenail onychomycosis: a systematic review and network meta‐analysis." British Journal of Dermatology 182.2 (2020): 287-299.

[5] Bhatta, Anil Kumar, et al. "Fractional carbon-dioxide (CO2) laser-assisted topical therapy for the treatment of onychomycosis." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 74.5 (2016): 916-923.

[6] Lipner, Shari R., and Dayoung Ko. "Optimizing topical therapy for onychomycosis: the importance of patient education." Cutis 102.6 (2018): 389.

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