Toenail fungus is a difficult condition to get rid of. It is the most common nail disease in adults particularly those over the age of 60. According to PDR health, 2-14% of the population has a toenail fungus infection (onychomycosis). Toenails are more likely to be infected than fingernails.
Achieving success with treatment can have risks, is expensive or can take a long time. The New York Times (NYT) reported that Lamisil, an oral treatment, is the most effective but must be taken for 90 days and brings with it the risk of liver disease. Laser treatment is expensive, as much as $1000 a treatment, and based on one clinical trial only about one-third of the people treated were cured.
There is an antifungal nail polish called Penlac Nail Lacquer with active ingredient ciclopirox that is approved by the FDA. But according to Dr. Bryan C. Markinson, the chief of podiatric medicine and surgery at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, it is not very popular nor very effective. The polish needs to be used daily for over a year to be really effective and compliance tends to wane after a few months.
One naturally wonders, what could happen if no treatment was done. How bad would it get?
In young people, it may take some time before additional problems appear. The fungus will spread down the nail from the tip towards the cuticle. The fungus can also spread to other parts of the body or skin through small cracks under the nail bed. The cracks allow additional bacteria to enter.
The Mayo Clinic stated that the affected nail can separate from the nail bed. The nail can become more brittle and inflamed causing pain in fingertips or toes.
People who have diabetes, are immunosuppressed from taking steroids or chemotherapy, or are elderly have the greatest risk. Anyone with poor circulation or nerve damage, as from diabetes, can develop more severe consequences.
Nail fungus will not go away without some type of treatment. Unfortunately, it can also come back, even with treatment, but not doing anything is not a good idea.