Nail fungus is a topic many of us don’t want to talk about, but it’s a common concern nonetheless. This fungus thrives in hot, moist environments, and we all know South Florida fits this description roughly 10 months out of the year. Nail fungus can also be contracted at the gym, by the pool and in the nail salon.
In the past, the treatment options for nail fungus have been somewhat limited. The previous generation of oral medications can potentially cause liver damage, and therefore required monthly bloodwork. Laser treatments, though effective, are expensive and not covered by insurance. At some point dermatologists were prescribing a paint-on medication called Penlac, but I never found this to be effective for my patients.
Now we have a topical prescription-based medication called Jublia. It is painted on like Penlac, but it is significantly more effective at eliminating nail fungus and preventing it. You can ask your dermatologist for a prescription when you’re diagnosed with an active fungal infection, but I’ve also been using Jublia as a preventative measure. I have my manicurist apply it before polish every time I get my nails and toes done to prevent catching an infection from improperly sterilized tools or a dirty foot spa. Once dry, Jublia doesn’t interfere with the polish application or its staying power, and I also apply it to my cuticles between appointments to prevent catching a fungal infection from patients.
Jublia is covered by insurance and the company is currently offering a coupon that gets you the medication for free if you have health insurance, and for $75 without insurance.
Because nail and foot fungus is so common in Florida, here are a few more tips to prevent getting it:
▪ Bring your own tools when you go for a manicure or pedicure.
▪ Have the pedicurist wash your feet with GCP Skincare Pre & Post Procedure Cleanser. (The fungus lives in the drain and is hard to clean out.)
▪ Wear slippers or flip-flops in hotel rooms, around the pool and in public showers.
▪ Ask your dermatologist to do a culture if you think you have a nail fungus.
Your dermatologist is trained in nail disease, so if you have peeling, thickened or discolored nails, schedule an appointment to find out the cause. To find a board-certified dermatologist near you, visit AAD.org.
Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.