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How can I get rid of the fungus that has made my big toenail thick and yellow?

Fungus infections cause less than five percent of deformed nails. Drying of skin and skin conditions such as psoriasis are more common causes. The part of nails that you see is dead. Living nails are located underneath the skin at their base. It takes four and a half months for the nail to grow from the nail plate to its end where you cut it off. During this time, the nail dries out and the ends can crack and fray. So the most common cause of deformed nails is drying, which is best treated by coating the nails with nail polish to slow water loss.

Most deformed nails are caused by skin conditions such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. If you have thickened toenails, check with a dermatologist who will clip off a piece of the nail and place it in a special bottle to culture it for a fungus. Since a fungus infection in the nail starts in the plate underneath the skin and no creams can get into the nail plate, pills are the most effective treatment for toenail fungus infections. A special laquer called Penlac can cure some fungus nails when applied for several weeks. Fungus infections can be cured with drugs such as itraconazole or terbinafine, but if no fungus is present, fungus pills will not help. If no fungus is present, most effective treatment is to keep the nails short. Go to a medical supply store and buy surgical quality nail clippers that are strong enough to cut thickened toenails without tearing them.

April 2, 2006

May 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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