Why are anti-fungal creams less capable of curing nail fungus?

It’s happened. Somewhere, somehow – maybe at the pool, maybe at the changing room at the gym, maybe from that nail salon – you’ve contracted nail fungus.

Your heart constricts to see your big toe nail turning yellow at the cuticle, and you rush out to the nearest pharmacy, grabbing he most effective looking cream off the shelf to keep the dreaded fungus from creeping from nail to nail and disfiguring your once sweet feet any further.

There’s just one problem… despite applying cream religiously morning, noon and night as well as all the recommended times in between, that grim looking fungus is slowly but surely creeping its way to the top of your big toe nail – worse, it has spread to the neighbouring nails. Why oh why?!

This is the story for many who turn to simply any creams trying to eradicate nail fungus. Unfortunately, many creams tackle the problem ineffectively because onychomycosis is an infection rather than a superficial growth upon the nail, and like most bodily infections, fungus spores begin from within.

Let’s take the make up of a typical toe – it begins with the bone, surrounding flesh and blood vessels, covered by the nail bed, which is then covered by the nail (nail plate) which is formed by layers of hard Keratin. It is believed that our ancient ancestors evolved nails to assist in climbing trees and cracking into fruits, hence it makes sense our nails are hard, however this makes toe nail fungus extremely difficult to treat as the treatment has to get through and tackle the hard nail plate to get to the spores greedily multiplying in the nail bed nestled beneath the hard layers of keratin.

There are however a few other ways to tackle nail fungus more effectively which will reach the source of the problem directly; Some less painful than others mind you!


It is possible to take oral drugs to cure nail fungus. Oral tablets are usually quite effective, because they tackle the spores from the inside out via the bloodstream. Their effectiveness is rated at 60 %.

The two medicines most commonly prescribed for fungal nail infection in the UK are  terbinafine and  itraconazole. However, it can take several months for tablets to produce results, and regular liver tests are usually required to ensure the drug prescribed is not causing damage to the body’s vital organs.

Side effects include:

  • headache
  • itching
  • loss of sense of taste
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea
  • taste disturbance
  • rash
  • liver damage

Oral tablets are usually suitable for the elderly, children, or those with diseases such as Crone’s disease. Some NHS Trusts prohibit their doctors prescribing the medication and others would only prescribe it for more severe cases.

Fungal nails can also be surgically removed altogether, though fungus will usually return unless the entire nail has been killed permanently. The nail should not grow back at all and the nail bed will heal and turn into normal skin.

There is also the latest advance in fungal nail treatment which is the use of a cold laser, called a Lunula laser. The laser uses two light beams set at 635nm and 405nm. Both beams are passed over the foot and nail, stimulating nail blood supply and reacting with fungal cells interfering with the oxygen in the cell wall

The laser also cleverly stimulates the body’s own immune system reacting against the fungal nail infection and an FDA study indicates there is about 85% effectiveness thus far when nail fungus is tackled with a Lunula laser. The Lunula laser is very exciting for The London Nail Laser Clinic as it represents a real advance in treatment progress. No more disappointing creams, tablets with drastic side effects, or need to surgically remove nails altogether.

We at the London Nail Laser Clinic believe the Lunula Laser is the future for fighting nail fungus. To reclaim a future for your feet and say hello to your open toed sandals again, check out our treatment options, or call +44 20 3372 4018 for friendly advice.