How long to treat fungal nail infections

Why treating fungal nail infections is a slow process

By Dr. Fatima Ahmed

If you suffer from fungal nail infections, you will know they are hard to treat. Many patients who come to see me have had the infection for years – and tried different remedies already. We have a range of treatments that can be successful with even the most stubborn cases – but you’ll still need to be patient.


There are two reasons that make any treatment for fungal nail infections a slow process:

It’s a hard area to treat: The fungus thrives in warm, damp, dark conditions – exactly what it finds in sweaty socks and shoes!  There are some activities that can aggravate this even further: if you do a lot of sport, your feet are likely to become hot and sweaty as you exert yourself, stimulating the fungus even more. But even if you don’t do a lot of sport, you can find that fungal toenail infections keep coming back because they have the perfect environment in which to grow – and some of them simply can’t be cured.

Toenails grow slowly: Very slowly! Even with the most effective treatments, it will be a year before we see completely how well the treatments have worked – or whether the fungal infection has come back in this time.

Treatment options:

There are a number of treatments that can help with fungal nail infections. Depending on what you have already tried, I recommend starting with the least invasive first. In order these are:

Topical creams: The simplest treatment available.

Nail lacquers: Most of these involve filing away the infected parts of your nails.

Laser treatment: We use the Nd- Yag laser as the heat penetrates deeper than other lasers, selectively targeting the fungus so it stops harming the nail while leaving the nail alone. There is no immediate visible difference, but as the nail grows the nail bed starts to appear clear. Laser treatment is suitable for patients of all ages.

Oral medication: The strongest treatment, but it can have side effects, which you need to discuss before deciding to take it.


What you can do to help

Treat early: The sooner you start treating a fungal nail infection, the more effective the treatment is likely to be. Many patients wait until their nail is completely yellow and crumbling, but coming with the very first signs will improve our chances of successfully clearing it up.

Dry your toes thoroughly: I recommend using a hairdryer to dry your toes.

Buy new socks: Throw out all your socks and buy new ones as the fungus can lurk in the material.

Clean your shoes from the inside: Most of us can’t afford to replace all our shoes (although if your child wears only one pair to school I would recommend replacing them if you can afford to), but cleaning your shoes from the inside with an anti-fungal spray will help.

Get your toes out:  Go barefoot as often as possible



Due to how slowly nails grow, we normally recommend that you have four sessions one month apart, then wait for three months before we assess the progress of the treatment and consider our next steps. If we are successful in treating the fungal nail infection, you should have healthy nails in a year.



We can’t deliver overnight results with fungal nail infections, but with persistence, we can dramatically improve infected nails for most patients.


Book a no-obligation consultation to discuss a fungal nail treatment and other dermatology procedures with Dr Fatima Ahmed

Call 01892 22 22 22

Dr. Fatima Ahmed


Meet the expert

Dr Fatima Ahmed is a speciality doctor in dermatology and aesthetics, with special interests in acne, mole and skin lesion diagnosis.  With medical qualifications from Pakistan, Canada, the UK and USA, she achieved academic distinction at Cardiff University and received the Chancellor International Scholarship award at the University of Hertfordshire.  She has worked in South Asia, the Middle East and the UK