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]