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Tom asked...

Fungal nail infection on my fingers.

I have a fungal nail infection affecting 6 of my fingernails, 3 quite badly. I have had this since childhood (now 34) and would like to explore new treatment options. I have tried various over the counter and prescription medicines (nail paints and tablets) however it is has not helped.

I understand that laser surgery maybe a more effective option? The affected nails do cause me some discomfort, however, I am very concious of their appearance and this can cause some embarrassment, particullary at work. Can you advise on possible next steps? Presumably a GP referral?

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The answer

There are a number of options that may be suitable, laser treatment as you mentioned being one of them, but there are also other options. Chemical nail removal where the abnormal nail plates can be removed by using a paste containing 40% urea (a chemical naturally produced in the body but can be manufactured) You carefully apply the paste to the affected nails which is left on overnight. You then wash the paste off in the morning and file down the nail as instructed. You repeat the process each night for about two weeks to dissolve the abnormal nail plate and the fungus, after which you apply antifungal nail paint twice weekly to prevent the nails being reinfected as new nails grow. This product can be bought in any chemist.

Laser treatment is a possible option if as you mention, your fungal infection is rather stubborn. The laser emits high doses of light energy, which are used to destroy the fungus. Research shows that the treatment is effective and safe however there is currently little evidence to show that laser treatment provides a long term cure and you may require treatment every three months for up to a year. Laser treatment is only available privately and maybe costly.

The last option is surgery to remove the infected nails. This is normally recommended if your infection is severe or painful and other treatments are ineffective. You would need to speak to you policy team regarding your cover.

You may benefit from speaking to you GP to discuss the options available to you.

Answered by Health at Hand nurses.


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