Nail Fungus

Last Updated: August 16, 2022

Nail fungus is a condition caused by an overgrowth of fungus on or under the nail. Main treatments are limited to antifungal drugs, with limited evidence surrounding dietary supplements.

What is nail fungus?

Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a fungal infection that affects the toenail or fingernail.[1]

What are the main signs and symptoms of nail fungus?

This infection causes nails that are brittle, thickened, painful, and have a brown/yellow discoloration. If untreated, these symptoms will worsen until the nail has completely disintegrated.[1]

How is nail fungus diagnosed?

A thorough examination from a healthcare provider is recommended. They will usually take a sample of the infected nail for analysis. Depending upon the severity of the infection, a more in-depth analysis may be ordered.[1]

What are some of the main medical treatments for nail fungus?

The main medical treatments are antifungal drugs. These drugs may be taken orally or applied directly to the nail.[2]

Have any supplements been studied for nail fungus?

In vitro (lab-based) and animal studies have tested supplements on other types of fungal infections, but no research has tested if these supplements treat nail fungus specifically in humans. Compounds like monolaurin (which is derived from coconut oil), or certain flavonoids (e.g., liquiritigenin) may have general antifungal effects.[3][4][5] Overall, more human evidence is needed before any supplement can be recommended for treating nail fungus.

How could diet affect nail fungus?

Currently, there is no research connecting diet and nail fungus.

Are there any other treatments for nail fungus?

Treatments that do not use antifungal drugs are limited. However, laser therapy (a treatment in which the nail is exposed to a powerful light source) has the potential as an alternative treatment for nail fungus.[6]

What causes nail fungus?

Fungal infections can occur anywhere on the body and typically develop in dark, warm and moist environments. For instance, if one is constantly wearing shoes that often get wet, this may increase the risk of developing nail fungus.[1]

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  1. ^Gupta AK, Stec N, Summerbell RC, Shear NH, Piguet V, Tosti A, Piraccini BMOnychomycosis: a review.J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.(2020-Sep)
  2. ^Bodman MA, Krishnamurthy KOnychomycosisStatPearls.(2022-05)
  3. ^Seleem D, Chen E, Benso B, Pardi V, Murata RMIn vitro evaluation of antifungal activity of monolaurin against Candida albicans biofilms.PeerJ.(2016)
  4. ^Lee JY, Lee JH, Park JH, Kim SY, Choi JY, Lee SH, Kim YS, Kang SS, Jang EC, Han YLiquiritigenin, a licorice flavonoid, helps mice resist disseminated candidiasis due to Candida albicans by Th1 immune response, whereas liquiritin, its glycoside form, does not.Int Immunopharmacol.(2009-May)
  5. ^Gharibpour F, Shirban F, Bagherniya M, Nosouhian M, Sathyapalan T, Sahebkar AThe Effects of Nutraceuticals and Herbal Medicine on Candida albicans in Oral Candidiasis: A Comprehensive Review.Adv Exp Med Biol.(2021)
  6. ^Gupta AK, Simpson FNewly approved laser systems for onychomycosis.J Am Podiatr Med Assoc.(2012)
  7. ^I R ReidCalcium supplements and nail qualityN Engl J Med.(2000 Dec 14)
  8. ^Noah Scheinfeld, Maurice J Dahdah, Richard ScherVitamins and minerals: their role in nail health and diseaseJ Drugs Dermatol.(2007 Aug)
  9. ^Gupta AK, Elewski BE, Rosen T, Caldwell B, Pariser DM, Kircik LH, Bhatia N, Tosti AOnychomycosis: Strategies to Minimize Recurrence.J Drugs Dermatol.(2016-Mar)
  10. ^Hammer TR, Mucha H, Hoefer DInfection risk by dermatophytes during storage and after domestic laundry and their temperature-dependent inactivation.Mycopathologia.(2011-Jan)
  11. ^Feuilhade de Chauvin MA study on the decontamination of insoles colonized by Trichophyton rubrum: effect of terbinafine spray powder 1% and terbinafine spray solution 1%.J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol.(2012-Jul)
  12. ^Gupta AK, Brintnell WCSanitization of contaminated footwear from onychomycosis patients using ozone gas: a novel adjunct therapy for treating onychomycosis and tinea pedis?J Cutan Med Surg.(2013)
  13. ^Ghannoum MA, Isham N, Long LOptimization of an infected shoe model for the evaluation of an ultraviolet shoe sanitizer device.J Am Podiatr Med Assoc.(2012)
  14. ^Gupta AK, Simpson FC, Brintnell WCDo genetic mutations and genotypes contribute to onychomycosis?Dermatology.(2014)