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What is the best over-the-counter nail fungus treatment?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 27, 2023.

Official answer


There really is no ‘best’ over-the-counter (OTC) treatment for nail fungus. OTC products are available to treat fungus on the skin around the nail bed, but are not very effective at treating the hard nail bed. Prescription medicines, which you either take by mouth or apply to the nail, are more effective for nail fungus.

A fungal infection of the nail is called onychomycosis. Fungus growing under your nails can appear as a white, yellow, brown or black color with a crumbly texture. Fungal nail infections occur most frequently in the toenails, but can occur on the fingernails, too.

Be sure to treat any athlete's foot (tinea pedis) you may have as well, as these can worsen or lead to fungal nail infections. Effective antifungal products like creams or sprays for athlete's foot can be found over-the-counter.

Treatment for nail fungus can take months, but not all people need to be treated. While the nail fungus may not fully clear up, in many people it may not cause any long-term effects, either.

What over-the-counter products treat nail fungus?

Over-the-counter (OTC) nail fungus medicines include:

  • clotrimazole (FungiCure Intensive)
  • tolnaftate (Fungi-Nail, Opti-Nail)
  • undecylenic acid

These OTC products treat the fungus on the skin around the nail bed and not the actual nail fungus itself.

Urea (Kerasol) can help to soften and improve the appearance of brittle, yellow nails, but it does not treat the nail fungus.

Which prescription products treat nail fungus?

The best products for nail fungus are prescription medicines you take by mouth or topical liquid medicines you apply to the nail.

Prescription medicines commonly used to treat nail fungus (onychomycosis) include oral and topical treatments, such as:

  • topical efinaconazole (Jublia)
  • topical tavaborole (Kerydin)
  • topical ciclopirox (Ciclodan, Penlac Nail Laquer)
  • oral terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • oral itraconazole (Sporanox)

Oral antifungal medicines tend to work better than topical ones, but are associated with greater side effects and drug interactions. In some cases, your doctor may decide to combine treatments, or use laser or photodynamic therapy. Speak with your podiatrist (foot doctor) about these techniques.

In the most severe cases, your doctor may recommend you have surgery to remove part or all of the nail.

Learn more: How do I get rid of nail fungus?

This is not all the information you need to know about this condition and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Always discuss any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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