A Cost-Effective Treatment for Nail Fungus
The medical term is onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the fingernails or toenails that cause them to thicken, discolor, disfigure, and split. In addition to being unsightly, there may be a foul smell associated with the infection. Without treatment, the nails can become so thick that they press against the inside of shoes, causing pain and irritation. The thickness of the nail makes them virtually impossible to trim with standard nail clippers.
The cause of the infection are dermatophytes, microscopic fungus organisms that feed on the protein found in nail tissues. Most often the infections are confined to the nail bed itself, but it some instances it can spread to the surrounding skin tissue.
Patients who suffer chronic diseases, such as diabetes, or who have circulatory problems or immune-deficiency conditions, are especially prone to fungal nails. Other contributing factors may be a history of athlete’s foot and excessive foot perspiration.
Good foot hygiene is imperative to preventing fungus infections. Clean, dry feet help resist disease. Other hygiene measures include: regular inspection of the feet and toes; changing shoes, socks and hosiery daily; wearing thongs in public shower areas; periodic use of a good talcum foot powder.
Onychomycosis infections are difficult to treat. The doctor can prescribe expensive fungal medications, which are taken orally to kill these infections. However, many of these medications can cause liver damage, or worsen preexisting liver disease, especially in elderly patients. Because nails grow so slowly (a large toenail may take six months or more to grow out), the medicine must be taken every day for several months to ensure treatment success – this increases the likelihood of causing liver problems and drug interactions with other medications. The cost of a 12-week course of Lamisil® (terbinafine) is about $1000 – no wonder the manufacturer of Lamisil® can afford those expensive TV commercials! For many elderly patients who live on fixed incomes, or don’t have prescription benefits, the cost of treatment is prohibitive. There are some less expensive over-the-counter remedies, but they usually only suppress the more mild forms of the infection and do not provide a bona fide cure.
The Apothecary Options Treatment
Our pharmacy prepares a potent, prescription-only topical preparation to treat onychomycosis. The preparation contains two anti-fungal agents (fluconazole 2% and itraconazole 1%), plus a drug that softens the nail (ibuprofen 2%) and a penetrating agent (DMSO), which allows the fungal medications to permeate into and under the nail. Patient response has been very good. It still may take 3-6 months or longer to cure the infection, but many clients notice a significant improvement after using the product daily for 30 days. Liver side effects are not a concern because the drugs are not absorbed significantly into the bloodstream. Other than an occasional case of skin irritation caused by the DMSO, side effects are non-existent