The 7 Best Toenail Fungus Treatments of 2021

Stop this skin infection in its tracks with these over-the-counter products

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Best Toenail Fungus Treatments

Verywell Health / Sabrina Jiang

Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. But if left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes.

The fungus often begins in the form of athlete's foot between the toes or on the soles of the feet. At this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medication. But Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, told Verywell Health toenail fungus can be difficult to treat because of how slow the nails grow. “The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies,” she says. 

Diagnosing the fungal infection early is key to make treatments effective. Dr. Lipner recommends visiting a board-certified dermatologist to properly treat the infection if it grows to be too severe. 

Here are a few of the best over-the-counter toenail fungus treatments on the market.

Our Top Picks
The prescription-strength cream works to kill fungus and prevent its growth, and also helps to treat jock itch and ringworm.
Designed to address multiple forms of fungal infections, it features both a wide and small applicator for hard-to-reach areas.
The foot soak simultaneously relaxes muscles, soothes skin, and dries out fungus to prevent its spread.
Aimed at athletes and gym-oriented people, the soap can be used daily to clean the body in addition to managing fungal infections.
Undecylenic acid works to kill the toenail fungus and prevent regrowth while tea tree and lavender oil soothe the skin.
The multi-step system harnesses the benefits of coconut oil lauric esters through its unique combo of wash, polish, and gel.
Best Medicated Nail Polish:
Arishine Toenail Fungus Treatment at Amazon
Perfect for storing in your bag or pocket, the nail polish uses a mix of active ingredients to banish fungus and heal the damage.

Best Overall: Lamisil Terbinafine Hydrochloride AntiFungal Cream 1%

Pros
  • Treats fungus all over the body

  • Prescription-strength cream

Cons
  • Only for mild infections

Prescription orals and topicals are the most effective way to treat toenail fungus, but there are products over-the-counter that can also address mild fungal infections. Terbinafine Hydrochloride AntiFungal Cream works to address a variety of infections, including toenail fungus. 

The prescription-strength cream is recommended by Dr. Lipner to treat athlete’s foot before it spreads to the toenails. It works by killing the fungus and preventing its growth. If you’re looking for something stronger to treat your infection, Terbinafine is also available as a prescription oral medication–a recommended route for more severe toenail fungus.

Active Ingredients: Terbinafine hydrochloride | Dose: Apply between the toes twice a day for 1 week, or twice a day on the bottom and sides of the foot for 2 weeks. Only add the amount directed on the package or by a physician. | Uses: To treat fungus on the toes and feet, jock itch, and ringworm elsewhere on the body; relieves itching

Best Ointment: Fungi Nail Anti-Fungal Ointment

Pros
  • Less expensive

  • Infused with five oils for skin healing

  • Easy-to-use brush applicator

Cons
  • Only for mild infections

  • Doesn't heal the nail plate

Fungi Nail Antifungal Ointment uses an innovative design to address multiple forms of fungal infections one can find on their feet. Its wide-tip applicator applies the appointment on larger areas of the feet, such as the soles and in-between toes. Then the smaller applicator works to get around the nail cuticles and underneath the nail.

Once applied, the maximum-strength ointment kills the fungus with the active ingredients of zinc undecylenate and undecylenic acid to help treat toenail fungus. The ointment also soothes itching and burning that can come with an infection, all while healing the skin. For best results, apply twice a day to clean, dry feet.

The ointment also soothes itching and burning that can come with an infection, all while healing the skin. For best results, apply twice a day to clean, dry feet.

Active Ingredients: Zinc undecylenate 20% and Undecylenic acid 5% | Dose: Tube and brush applicator delivers the appropriate amount. Apply thin layer on affected area twice daily or as directed by a doctor. | Uses: Treats and prevents fungal infections; fights athlete’s foot and ringworm

Best Soak: Purely Northwest Tea Tree Oil Foot & Body Soak

Pros
  • Relaxes muscles with Epsom and sea salts

  • All-natural solution

  • Free of synthetic fragrance

Cons
  • Essential oils may be potential allergens

If you’re looking for an all-natural route to treat toenail fungus, then this foot soak could be for you. Not only is a foot soak a relaxing way to end your day, but the ingredients used in Purely Northwest’s soak include Epsom salt, sea salt, tea tree oil, and other oils. These ingredients soothe the skin while addressing foot and toenail fungus. 

The combined ingredients work to dry out the fungus to prevent it from spreading. Benefits of the soak also include healing cracked feet and soothing aches.

This US-made product has no dyes or synthetic fragrances, making it a great all-natural solution. But results, depending on severity, might take longer to show when using the soak over prescription or over-the-counter treatments. 

Active Ingredients: Epsom salt, Dead Sea salt, MSM, and Therapeutic-grade essential oils | Dose: Add 1.5 tablespoons of foot soak mix for every gallon of water. Mix with hands until the salt dissolved. Add additional salts for a more stronger or aromatic foot bath. Soak your feet for About 15-20 minutes. | Uses: Treats fungus all over feet; eliminates food odor and aches

Best Soap: Truremedy Naturals Remedy Soap Tea Tree Oil Body Wash

Pros
  • Great for athletes and gym goers

  • Cleanses and deodorizes

  • Also treats acne, candida, and rashes

Cons
  • Fragrant oils may be overwhelming

A medicated soap is another way to address toenail fungus and other forms of fungus that can grow on the feet. The Remedy Soap specifically addresses fungal infections by combining all-natural ingredients: tea tree oil, aloe, peppermint, and eucalyptus

Tea tree oil works to soothe the skin while peppermint balances the body’s natural oils. Then eucalyptus works to heal unhealthy skin on the feet and surrounding the nails. 

This product is aimed at athletes and gym-oriented people, as sweat-induced exercise can often cause fungal infections. Remedy created the product gentle enough, though, so it can be used daily to clean the body. Besides treating toenail fungus, the soap also alleviates athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch, and body odor. 

Active Ingredients: Tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil | Dose: Use like a standard body wash, apply and lather over the whole body. Leave soap on for 30 to 60 seconds before rinsing. | Uses: Cleanses bacteria and fungus all over skin; treats and helps prevent acne

Best Solution: FUNGINIX Healthy Nail Formula

Pros
  • Penetrates underneath nail beds

  • Tea tree and lavender sooth skin

  • Money back guarantee

Cons
  • Results can take several weeks

  • Only for toe and fingernail fungus

Funginix Healthy Nail Formula uses a unique blend of ingredients to eliminate toenail fungus while healing the skin. Undecylenic acid works to kill the toenail fungus and prevent regrowth while tea tree and lavender oil soothe the skin.

For optimal results, apply the solution on the cuticles and skin surrounding the nail. This helps the product penetrate underneath the nail bed to address the fungus. Do not apply the solution like nail polish. Funginix recommends applying the solution daily and practicing patience, as toenail fungus often takes longer to treat. 

The best part about Funginix is that it offers a 90-day money back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied with the results. 

Active Ingredients: Undecylenic acid (10%) | Dose: Apply at the cuticle and at the edge of each infected nail twice daily using the brush applicator. Allow the solution five minutes to absorb. | Uses: Treats fungus on and around the toe nails

Best System: Probelle 2-Step Fungal Nail Renewal System

Probelle 2-Step Fungal Nail Renewal System
Pros
  • Both cleanses and treats

  • Colorless and odorless formula

  • Gentle on irritated skin

Cons
  • Expensive

Probelle attacks toenail fungus by creating a multi-step solution that will clean the problem area and prevent fungal growth. In the morning, use Probelle coconut oil body wash to clean the area and then apply the nail polish solution to the dried nails. In the evening, you apply the Natural Fungal Gel Nail Treatment to the affected area and let it dry. Probelle claims that 94 percent of people in a clinical trial saw improvement from the system within six weeks.

The Probelle treatment system doesn’t just use a unique combination of washes, polishes, and gels to achieve results, it also harnesses the benefits of coconut oil lauric esters. But the company also says that more severe infections can take up to a year to heal because of how long it takes for nails to grow. 

Customers say the formula is gentle on their skin and shows results within weeks of daily use. 

Active Ingredients: Lauric esters | Dose: Wash with cleanser like a normal soap. Apply just enough liquid to cover affected areas, followed by gel. | Uses: Treats and fights fungus on nails

Best Medicated Nail Polish: Arishine Toenail Fungus Treatment

Pros
  • Convenient pen brush applicator

  • Treats discoloration, brittleness, and cracked nails

  • Easy, on-the-go treatment

Cons
  • Only works on nail plates

  • Treatment process can be slow

The Arishine Toenail Treatment has the design and convenience of a pencil. Perfect for storing in a bag or pocket while at work, the repair pencil allows you to use a paintable nail polish on your infected toenail three times a day with ease to treat a nail fungal issue.

The Arishine treatment uses two percent deacetylated chitin, three percent O-hydroxybenzoic acid, and Angelica dahurica as active ingredients to get rid of fungus and heal the damage. This solution can help treat discoloration, brittleness, split, rough, and cracked nails. Ultimately, this medicated nail polish can lead to stronger and healthier nails.

Arishine is made of natural ingredients and does not conduct animal testing. Treatment requires three applications a day and should be used for four to 12 weeks, although improvement may be visible in as few as two weeks. Arishine offers customers a satisfaction guarantee.

Active Ingredients: Deacetylated chitin (2%), O-hydroxybenzoic acid (3%), and Angelica dahurica | Dose: Applicator automatically delivers correct amount with two to three clicks. Apply around nail on cuticles and under nail bed. | Uses: Treats fungus infection on and around nails; helps heal discolored, brittle nails

Final Verdict

Toenail fungus may start out as a small annoyance, but it can spread and progress into something much more serious. “If left untreated over time more and more of the nails gets taken over by the thick yellow-white debris of the fungus making pedicures unmanageable,” says Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin treatment center in New York City.

That’s why treating the fungus early and often is so critical. If you’re looking for an antifungal treatment that can address multiple concerns, we recommend the Terbinafine Hydrochloride AntiFungal Cream (view at Amazon). If you’re looking for a treatment to target fungal growth under the nails, we recommend Fungi Nail Antifungal Ointment (view at Amazon). 

Best Toenail Fungus Treatments
Nusha Ashjaee / Verywell

What to Look for in a Toenail Fungus Treatment

Severity

Toenail fungus, if left untreated, can become a tough problem to treat and will greatly influence what medications you need. If the toenails are thick, yellowed, and left untreated for a long time, that could indicate you need either a prescription-strength product or to seek help from a board-certified dermatologist. 

Location

Dr. Lipner says toenail fungus starts as athlete’s foot. “It begins with a rash on the foot and spreads to the toenails,” she says. Treating athlete’s foot differs from toenail fungus, so pay attention to where your problem is on your foot. If it’s athlete’s foot, you can address the concern with antifungal ointments, sprays, and powders available over-the-counter. 

Ingredients

Zinc undecylenate and undecylenic acid are both FDA-approved ingredients to treat toenail fungus. Also, if you seek help from a dermatologist, they will likely prescribe medications in the “azole” family. “The compound interferes with the synthesis of the fungal cell membrane,” Dr. Lipner says, which essentially kills the fungus. 

Type

Toenail fungus treatments can come in a variety of forms, but oral, topical, and homeopathic medications are the most commonly used for treating toenail fungus.

  • Oral: Oral medications have been proven effective, but they take time to work. “Lamisil also has the lowest side effect profile of the oral antifungal medications and works as a fungicidal which destroys a fungus by blocking its ability to ‘breath’ or make the oxygen molecules it needs to survive,” says Orit Markowitz, MD. But there are several conditions that can make people ineligible for oral antifungal medications. The same underlying comorbidities, including chronic renal failure (with dialysis) and renal transplant, immunodeficiency, diabetes, cancer, and peripheral arterial disease that make someone more susceptible to toenail fungus also make them more at risk for side effects when taking the drugs.
  • Topical: Topical treatments (like amorolfine and ciclopirox) can help with minor toenail fungus. They cause fewer and less serious side effects. But, it’s difficult for them to penetrate the nail plate so treatment is longer and efficacy is low. “Azole antifungals like JUBLIA inhibit fungal elements involved in the biosynthesis of critical fungal elements like fungal cell membranes,” says Dr. Markowitz. She adds that, “topical therapies can be effective, but require lengthy and costly regimens without an established method for predicting outcome.” It could mean daily topical treatments for 52 weeks.
  • Natural/Homeopathic: Natural preventative measures can be effective, but once fungus sets in, your best bet is a research-backed and FDA approved oral antifungal. Garlic has antifungal properties, and when used in a footbath can provide some relief. “Given that topical prescription remedies take at least 1 year of daily use to work in only 2/3 of mild to moderate cases it is difficult to recommend an off-label natural remedy treatment,” says Dr. Markowitz. Keep in mind that a complete cure can take as long as 18 months. Plus, for fungal nail infections, a cure is not achieved at all in 20 to 25 percent of treated patients, per research.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should I use a toenail fungus treatment?

    Antifungal medications take some time to fight the fungus. Most products recommend twice daily application for one to two weeks. If at this time the condition has not improved, consult your doctor for treatment recommendations.

  • Can topical toenail fungus treatments cause irritation?

    The active ingredients in most antifungal treatments are quite potent. That means they do have the power to cause burning, stinging, swelling, irritation, redness, bumps, and other irritation on the skin. If this occurs with use, consult your doctor. But, most people are able to use the antifungal creams and gels without problems and with healing, soothing effects.

What the Experts Say

“The most common presentation of toenail fungus is a white/yellow discoloration of the nail that is thick and filled with yellow/white keratin debris. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies." —Orit Markowitz, MD, founder and CEO of OptiSkin treatment center in New York City.

Why Trust Verywell Health?

As a seasoned health writer, Danielle Zoellner knows the importance of finding just the right product to fit your medical needs. Throughout her career, Danielle has interviewed a variety of experts in the medical and health fields while reviewing dozens of products. Her experience and knowledge in the field work together to help readers like yourself find the best products for your daily life.

Additional reporting for this story by Jennifer Nied

For over 10 years, Jennifer Nied  has reviewed products, interviewed experts, scrutinized ingredients, and pored over research studies and claims, to help readers like you understand what works for your specific conditions. Every product in this piece was selected taking into account recommendations from doctors, published research, and real customer reviews.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fungal nail infections. Updated May 27, 2020.

  2. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Topical antifungal drug products. Updated April 1, 2019.

  3. Christenson JK, Peterson GM, Naunton M, et al. Challenges and opportunities in the management of onychomycosisJ Fungi (Basel). 2018;4(3):87. doi:10.3390/jof4030087