Getting rid of toenail fungus in children can be a long, arduous process compounded by the fact that many youngsters don’t want you applying medication to their nails on a day-to-day basis. If you suspect your child has toenail fungus, arrange an appointment with your primary care doctor to verify the condition and discuss the potential advantages of each treatment option for your specific situation.
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Also called onychomycosis, toenail fungus is a condition that develops when fungi invade the nails. Although toenail fungus affects people of all ages, the condition is more common in older children and the adult population, particularly those who sweat heavily, walk barefoot in public pools and shower rooms or have reduced blood circulation. Signs of toenail fungus in children may include thickened or brittle nails, as well as darkening or yellow discoloration of the nail. The affected nail often separates partially from the nail bed, which increases your child’s chances of having dirt collect beneath the loosened nail.
Traditional treatment for toenail fungus in children typically includes topical and oral antifungal medications. Commonly used oral medication options for pediatric toenail fungus include terbinafine and itraconazole. These medications operate by preventing the fungus from infecting new nail growth, so the appearance of the fungi won’t disappear completely until the affected portion of the nail has grown out. Doctors typically recommend topical creams for more mild cases of toenail fungus, since the creams generally produce mixed results in severe cases.
Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in trying an alternative remedy for your child’s toenail fungus. Although no clinical trials definitively prove its effectiveness, anecdotal evidence suggests that vinegar may help minimize the severity of nail fungus. The supposed ability of vinegar to hamper the growth of nail fungus seems to arise from the liquid’s potential to create an acidic environment, notes Joe Graedon, adjunct assistant professor at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy and co-author of “The People’s Pharmacy.” If your doctor approves the use of vinegar, soak your child’s foot daily in a blend of one part vinegar and two parts water until the appearance of the fungus is gone.
Toenail fungus is a notoriously stubborn health condition that typically takes months to eradicate. Maximize the effectiveness of the treatment you and your child’s doctor choose by getting rid of the conditions that caused the problem in the first place. Encourage proper foot hygiene, including changing socks, washing and drying the feet regularly, as well as avoiding wearing shoes that prohibit ventilation. Make sure your child wears shoes or sandals in public areas, such as swimming pools and gyms, and always wash your hands after touching the affected nail to minimize your chances of spreading the infection.
- “Oski’s Pediatrics”; Julia McMillan, et al.; 2006
- “The People’s Pharmacy”; Joe Graedon, et al; 2002