Studies have reported that the prevalence of nail fungus is approximately 23% of the population in Europe, 20% in East Asia, and 14% in North America. Symptoms of nail fungus may initially include white or yellow spots or streaks on the nail, while you may notice discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nail as the infection progresses. Let’s discuss how to treat nail fungus naturally during pregnancy.
How to Treat Nail Fungus Naturally During Pregnancy
Nail fungus, also known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium, is an infection caused by fungi below the surface of the nail. This causes nearly 50% of all nail disorders in North America.
While there are several ways to treat nail fungus, ultimately, prevention is the best thing you can do to avoid having a fungal infection in the first place.
Here are several ways you can prevent nail fungus:
- Regularly clean your feet with soap and water, and make sure to dry them well.
- Wear shower shoes when showering in public areas.
- Avoid wearing shoes or hosiery that are too tight.
- Wear shoes made of a material that breathes well.
- Wear socks made of synthetic fibers, which help reduce moisture quicker than other fibers.
- Change shoes and socks at least a couple times per day.
- Keep nails trimmed, clipping them straight across the top.
- Disinfect home pedicure tools, including tools used to trim the nails.
- Do not use nail polish on infected nails or nails that you suspect may be infected.
If you have a mild fungal infection, simply cleaning the nail daily may prevent the infection from becoming worse; however, if the infection progresses, there are other remedies you may use.
However, tea tree oil can be used during pregnancy. Three comparative blind trials found that tea tree oil was effective in treating toenail fungus and easing symptoms of athlete’s foot.
To use, apply a 100% solution with a cotton ball twice daily for at least 6 months. Do not use tea tree oil if you are sensitive to or allergic to turpentine. Also, do not take it orally as this can have toxic effects.
WARNING: While some have used snakeroot extract (Asarum) to treat nail fungus, it is not safe to use during pregnancy.
How to Treat Nail Fungus During Pregnancy When Naturally Does Not Work
If you notice that your nail is becoming thick, discolored, or deformed, it is probably time to visit a podiatrist (foot doctor). The earlier you begin treatment, the better. If natural remedies do not effectively clear the fungal infection, your doctor may recommend the following options:
One option is to file off any white markings on the nail daily, after which you can apply an over-the-counter antifungal medication. Your doctor can also prescribe a medicated nail cream to treat the nail fungus. However, make sure to talk to your doctor to see if over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medications are safe to use during pregnancy. Also, keep in mind that topical treatments may not fully eliminate the fungus.
Oral Antifungal Medications
Oral antifungal medications help a new, healthy nail growth, eventually replacing the infected nail. These are generally taken for about three months, although it may take longer to fully remove the fungal infection. A common antifungal medication is Lamisil.
This medication is safe to take during pregnancy. However, it is best to avoid using it while breastfeeding as it is distributed in breast milk.
Some antifungal medications can be harmful to the liver, so your doctor may regularly check for liver damage while you are taking such medication. Your doctor may not recommend taking oral antifungal medication if you have liver disease or congestive heart failure.
Make sure to talk to your doctor before you take an antifungal medication. Let them know of any other medications you are taking and that you are pregnant so they can recommend the best treatment for you.
Medicated Nail Polish
Medicated nail polish may also be used to treat fungal nail infection. Your doctor may prescribe a fungal nail polish such as ciclopirox. This medication is safe to take during pregnancy, although it is best not to use it while breastfeeding.
To use medicated nail polish, apply to the nail once daily. After a week, clean the nail with alcohol to remove the layers of polish. Continue applying daily and cleaning with alcohol once a week. You may have to use this treatment for a year to eliminate the fungus.
Surgical or Laser Therapy
In severe cases, laser therapy or surgical removal of the nail may be recommended. After surgery, a new, healthy nail will generally grow back, although it may take a year. Laser therapy may also be used to treat nail fungus.
Want to Know More?
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. American Podiatric Medical Association. (n.d.) Toenail fungus:
2. Ghannoum, M., & Isham, N. (2014, June 5). Fungal nail infections (onychomycosis): A never-ending story? PLOS Pathogens 10 (6). doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004105
3. Gruenwald, J., Brendler, T., & Jaenicke, C. (Eds.). (2007). PDR for herbal medicines (4th ed.). Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc.
4. Kizior, R. J., & Hodgson, B. B. (2015). Saunders nursing drug handbook 2015. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
5. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, July 26). Nail fungus: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nail-fungus/basics/definition/con-20019319
6. Medline Plus. (2012). Fungal nail infection: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001330.htm
7. PDR Network. (n.d.) Ciclopirox: https://www.pdr.net/search-results?q=ciclopirox