June 14, 2024

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The 6 Best Toenail Fungus Treatments of 2024

10 min read

Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. If left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes. The fungus often begins in the form of athlete’s foot between the toes or on the soles of the feet. Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, says that as cases get more severe and more toes become infected, it becomes harder to treat with over-the-counter (OTC) treatment. Luckily, at this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medication, and that’s where toenail fungus treatments come in.

We researched dozens of toenail fungus treatments and evaluated them based on the following attributes: medication forms, ingredients, and treatment areas. We also had a medical dermatologist from our Medical Expert Board review the contents of this article for medical accuracy regarding how toenail fungus progresses and what to know about how to treat it.

Ingredients to Look for in Toenail Fungus Treatments

  • Zinc undecylenate and undecylenic acid: They’re both FDA-approved ingredients to treat toenail fungus.
  • Azole: If you seek help from a dermatologist, they will likely prescribe medications in the “azole” family. Dr. Lipner says that azoles interfere with fungal cell membrane production, killing the fungus. A common medication in the “azole” family used to treat toenail fungus is Jublia (efinaconazole). Other medications often prescribed include the active ingredient terbinafine, which is usually prescribed as oral or topical Lamisil.

Types of Toenail Fungus Treatments

  • Oral: Michelle Henry, MD, founder of Skin & Aesthetics Surgery of Manhattan, says oral medications are very effective and great for multiple nails that need stronger treatment. However, some underlying conditions that make people susceptible to toe fungus can also make you susceptible to negative side effects. Speak with your doctor to ensure you can safely take an oral antifungal.
  • Topical: Topical treatments (like amorolfine and ciclopirox) can help with minor toenail fungus. They cause fewer and less serious side effects. However, it’s difficult for them to penetrate the nail plate. Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin treatment center in New York City, says that they can be very effective when used properly. Still, treatment times are generally longer and thus more costly. 
  • Natural/homeopathic: Garlic has antifungal properties, and when used in a footbath, it can relieve pain. Dr. Henry suggests tea tree oil and white vinegar soaks as well. Proper treatment can take as long as 18 months, which is why Dr. Markowitz doesn’t often recommend this path. Natural preventative measures can be effective, but once fungus sets in, your best bet is a research-backed and FDA-approved oral antifungal.

When to Consult a Doctor

If you’re treating your fungus at home and nothing changes after you’ve used the product for the prescribed time, consult your doctor for treatment recommendations and next steps. Also, contact a medical professional if you experience burning, stinging, swelling, irritation, redness, bumps, and other skin irritation during or after treatment.

Nusha Ashjaee / Verywell


Fungi Nail Anti-Fungal Ointment

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

Fungi-nail Anti-Fungal Liquid is our top pick for the best toenail fungus treatment because it both cures and prevents toenail fungus and athlete’s foot while also easing irritating symptoms and improving the overall health of your skin. Its maximum strength formula includes five essential oils like tea tree oil, aloe vera, and lavender to reduce burning and itching sensations. At the same time, its active ingredient, tolnaftate, works to eliminate fungal infection.

We love that it comes with a small brush for easy application. To apply this product, put the solution underneath the nail and around your cuticle. Application doesn’t take long, and if you’re able to build it into your morning and nightly routine, it should be easy enough to remember to apply.

Keep in Mind

One potential downside to this product is that you have to apply it twice a day (both morning and night), and, depending on the severity of your infection, it could take a few months to eliminate the fungus fully. It’s also worth noting that it does have a slight medicinal smell, but it’s not too overpowering, and some may even like the smell of the tea tree oil.

Active Ingredients: Tolnaftate 1%, tea tree oil, aloe vera, eucalyptol, olive oil, and lavender | Dose: Apply twice daily (AM and PM) under the nail and around the cuticle | Uses: Cures and prevents fungal infections while reducing itching and burning

Purely Northwest Tea Tree Oil Foot & Body Soak

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

If you’re looking for an all-natural route to treat toenail fungus, then this foot soak could be for you. Not only is a foot soak a relaxing way to end your day, but the ingredients used in Purely Northwest’s soak include epsom salt, sea salt, tea tree oil, and other oils. These ingredients soothe the skin while addressing foot and toenail fungus. 

The combined ingredients work to dry out the fungus to prevent spreading. The benefits of the soak also include healing cracked feet and soothing aches. This US-made product has no dyes or synthetic fragrances, making it a great all-natural solution.

Keep in Mind

Results, depending on severity, might take longer to show when using the soak over prescription or over-the-counter treatments. 

Active Ingredients: Epsom salt, Dead Sea salt, MSM, and Therapeutic-grade essential oils | Dose: Add 1.5 tablespoons of foot soak mix for every gallon of water. Mix with hands until the salt dissolved. Add additional salts for a more stronger or aromatic foot bath. Soak your feet for About 15-20 minutes. | Uses: Treats fungus all over feet; eliminates food odor and aches

Truremedy Naturals Remedy Soap Tea Tree Oil Body Wash

Amazon


Pros

  • Great for athletes and gym goers

  • Cleanses and deodorizes

  • Also treats acne, candida, and rashes

Why We Recommend It

A medicated soap is another way to address toenail fungus and other forms of fungus that can grow on the feet. The Remedy Soap specifically addresses fungal infections by combining all-natural ingredients: tea tree oil, aloe, peppermint, and eucalyptus

Tea tree oil works to soothe the skin, while peppermint balances the body’s natural oils. Then eucalyptus works to heal unhealthy skin on the feet and surrounding the nails. This product is aimed at athletes and gym-oriented people, as sweat-induced exercise can often cause fungal infections. Remedy created the product gentle enough, though, so it can be used daily to clean the body. Besides treating toenail fungus, the soap also alleviates athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch, and body odor. 

Keep in Mind

The fragrant oils may be overwhelming for some.

Active Ingredients: Tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil | Dose: Use like a standard body wash, apply and lather over the whole body. Leave soap on for 30 to 60 seconds before rinsing. | Uses: Cleanses bacteria and fungus all over skin; treats and helps prevent acne

FUNGINIX Healthy Nail Formula

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

Funginix Healthy Nail Formula uses a unique blend of ingredients to eliminate toenail fungus while healing the skin. Undecylenic acid works to kill the toenail fungus and prevent regrowth, while tea tree and lavender oil soothe the skin.

For optimal results, apply the solution on the cuticles and skin surrounding the nail. This helps the product penetrate underneath the nail bed to address the fungus. Do not apply the solution like nail polish. Funginix recommends applying the solution daily and practicing patience, as toenail fungus often takes longer to treat. The best part about Funginix is that it offers a 90-day money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with the results. 

Keep in Mind

Results can take several weeks and it’s only for toe and fingernail fungus.

Active Ingredients: Undecylenic acid (10%) | Dose: Apply at the cuticle and at the edge of each infected nail twice daily using the brush applicator. Allow the solution five minutes to absorb. | Uses: Treats fungus on and around the toe nails

Probelle 2-Step Fungal Nail Renewal System

Amazon


Why We Recommend It

Probelle attacks toenail fungus by creating a multi-step solution to clean the problem area and prevent fungal growth. In the morning, use Probelle coconut oil body wash to clean the area and then apply the nail polish solution to the dried nails. In the evening, apply the Natural Fungal Gel Nail Treatment to the affected area and let it dry. Probelle claims that 94 percent of people in a clinical trial saw improvement from the system within six weeks.

The Probelle treatment system doesn’t just use a unique combination of washes, polishes, and gels to achieve results—it also harnesses the benefits of coconut oil lauric esters. Customers say the formula is gentle on their skin and shows results within weeks of daily use. 

Keep in Mind

The company also says that more severe infections can take up to a year to heal because of how long it takes for nails to grow. 

Active Ingredients: Lauric esters | Dose: Wash with cleanser like a normal soap. Apply just enough liquid to cover affected areas, followed by gel. | Uses: Treats and fights fungus on nails

Arishine Toenail Fungus Treatment

Amazon


Pros

  • Convenient pen brush applicator

  • Treats discoloration, brittleness, and cracked nails

  • Easy, on-the-go treatment

Why We Recommend It

The Arishine Toenail Treatment has the design and convenience of a pencil. Perfect for storing in a bag or pocket while at work, the repair pencil allows you to easily use paintable nail polish on your infected toenail three times a day to treat a nail fungal issue.

The Arishine treatment uses two percent deacetylated chitin, three percent O-hydroxybenzoic acid, and Angelica dahurica as active ingredients to eliminate fungus and heal the damage. This solution can help treat discoloration, brittleness, split, rough, and cracked nails. Ultimately, this medicated nail polish can lead to stronger and healthier nails. Arishine is made of natural ingredients and does not conduct animal testing. Treatment requires three applications a day and should be used for four to 12 weeks, although improvement may be visible in as few as two weeks. Arishine offers customers a satisfaction guarantee.

Keep in Mind

The treatment process can be slow, and it only works on nail plates.

Active Ingredients: Deacetylated chitin (2%), O-hydroxybenzoic acid (3%), and Angelica dahurica | Dose: Applicator automatically delivers correct amount with two to three clicks. Apply around nail on cuticles and under nail bed. | Uses: Treats fungus infection on and around nails; helps heal discolored, brittle nails

How We Selected Toenail Fungus Treatments

After consulting experts, we searched the internet for well-rated OTC treatments with active ingredients that make it easy to fight toenail fungus (because it can take a long time, so you need something convenient!). We also looked for medication forms that hit fungus hard at the source, like creams and polishes, and soothing ones, like medicated soaks and scrubs, to keep the rest of your feet healthy while you revive your nails. Lastly, we prioritized finding treatments that work for different areas, such as the nails or skin.

Our Experts

To find the best toenail fungus treatments, we asked four dermatologists to tell us what to look for when choosing a product—and how to know when you need to step up your game, i.e., opt for something prescription-strength. The experts we spoke to included:

  • Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin treatment center in New York City
  • Michelle Henry, MD, founder of Skin & Aesthetics Surgery of Manhattan
  • Caren Campbell, MD, a California-based dermatologist 

Frequently Asked Questions


  • How long should I use a toenail fungus treatment?

    Antifungal medications take some time to fight the fungus. Most products recommend twice daily application for one to two weeks, but the reality is that you’ll likely need to treat the fungus for much longer than that. Caren Campbell, MD, a California-based dermatologist, says oral treatments usually last three months, whereas topicals may need up to 12. She adds that toenails can take a year to grow out. 


  • Can topical toenail fungus treatments cause irritation?

    The active ingredients in most antifungal treatments are quite potent. That means they can irritate. If this occurs with use, consult your doctor. However, most people can use antifungal creams and gels without problems and with healing and soothing effects.

Why Trust Verywell Health

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

Additional reporting for this story by Jennifer Nied and Sarah Bradley

For over 10 years, Jennifer Nied has reviewed products, interviewed experts, scrutinized ingredients, and pored over research studies and claims, to help readers like you understand what works for your specific conditions. Every product in this piece was selected taking into account recommendations from doctors, published research, and real customer reviews.

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

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