Listerine for Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is a very common problem for podiatrists to treat. Toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, affects over 3 million people in the United States annually. Primarily we see most cases of toenail fungus in adults 35 years old and over. Because of the nature of the infection, if left untreated we can see toenail fungus infections go on for years, or even an entire lifetime. Because the effects of onychomycosis are cosmetic, some patients assume that the problem can be taken care of at home, with common household products. One of the most common ones we hear about is a foot soak with Listerine. While it is an effective oral antiseptic that will enhance your oral care regimen, Listerine has little or no effect on this common fungal foot infection.


The active ingredients in Listerine are Eucalyptol 0.092% (Organic Chemical Compound in Eucalyptus Essential Oils), Menthol 0.042% (Mint Essential Oil), Methyl salicylate 0.060% (Wintergreen Essential Oil), Thymol 0.064% (Thyme Essential Oil). While all of these ingredients exhibit some anti-fungal properties, treatment of toenail fungus with Listerine is time consuming and for the most part ineffective. The reason that a simple foot soak with Listerine does nothing to contribute to the long term treatment of onychomycosis is due to the nature of the infection itself. A foot soak will only be able to affect the top of the toenail. Toenail fungus, however, is commonly found in the area called the nail matrix. The nail matrix is where the body forms the nail, underneath the skin. Even if a solution applied to the nail itself is effective, it is common to see continued infection because the fungus continues to thrive underneath the skin. As the nail grows the infection grows outwardly with it.


While oral medications are available to treat toenail fungus, this option is not available to people with compromised immune systems, such as diabetics or the elderly. Oral medications can affect the body's liver and kidney systems, potentially creating a far more serious problem than onychomycosis. This is why podiatrists prefer to treat fungal infections with laser therapy. Laser nail fungus treatment is both effective and has no dangerous side effects. This is because the wavelength of the laser targets fungal cells only, passing harmlessly through the healthy tissue on the toes, thus the laser can destroy fungal cells that exist below the skin in the nail matrix. When the fungal cells are destroyed we see that healthy new nail appears as the nail grows out. Your podiatrist will most likely prescribe a topical medication to apply to the toenail while you undergo laser treatment, to prevent reinfection.


If you or a loved one is sick and tired of struggling with ugly fungal toenails then contact us at Ankle & Foot Associates to schedule an appointment with one of our 18 convenient locations, our friendly podiatrists and staff will be happy to help.

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