Pregnancy is a challenging time for the female body, with many activities and medications off-limits. This means that living with a toenail fungal infection is problematic. Thankfully, toenail fungus can still be treated safely during pregnancy, especially if you start treatment early on.
What treatment for toenail fungus is safe for pregnant women? Applying a diluted tea tree oil directly to the toe(s) is a natural remedy that’s considered safe during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Oral medications, such as Lamisil, are also deemed safe. However, Lamisil should not be used when you’re breastfeeding as it can get into breast milk. Most oral antifungal meds should be avoided.
Toenail fungus (tinea unguium) is not something that you must live with when pregnant. There are proven treatments available, both medical and all-natural, but not all are supported by scientific research. This guide will look at the toenail fungus treatments available for pregnant women.
Table of Contents:
- 1 How Do I Know if I Have Toenail Fungus?
- 2 Can You Treat Toenail Fungus While Pregnant?
- 3 What is a Safe Toenail Fungus Treatment During Pregnancy?
- 3.1 Is Oral Antifungal Medicine Safe to Use While Pregnant?
- 3.2 Is It Safe to Use Antifungal Cream While Pregnant?
- 3.3 Essential Oils and Toenail Fungus
- 3.4 Antifungal Toenail Polish While Pregnant
- 3.5 Foot Soaks to Treat Toenail Fungus
- 3.6 Hydrogen Peroxide for Toenail Fungus
- 3.7 Vicks VapoRub for Toenail Fungus
- 4 Is Toenail Fungus Dangerous While Pregnant?
How Do I Know if I Have Toenail Fungus?
The body undergoes substantial changes during pregnancy. So, it can be difficult to tell if a fungal infection is a problem.
The typical symptoms of toenail fungus include:
- Toenails becoming substantially thicker than usual
- Toenails becoming discolored, usually with shades or yellow or brown
- Toenails becoming very brittle, crumbling under pressure or impact
- Toenails growing into uncharacteristic and distorted shapes
- Toenails emitting a foul smell
If you notice these symptoms, especially when pregnant, speak to your doctor. Toenail fungus is rarely an emergency, so there is no need to panic.
Can You Treat Toenail Fungus While Pregnant?
Toenail fungus can be treated while pregnant. You may need to take a careful approach, however.
Typically, toenail fungus is treated with topically applied or orally consumed drugs. Oral drugs tend to work much faster, but they are often unsuitable during pregnancy.
This is due to potential side effects – both for the individual, and her unborn baby.
What is a Safe Toenail Fungus Treatment During Pregnancy?
Any treatment plan for toenail fungus must be discussed with a healthcare professional. Never purchase a product that you don’t understand from a pharmacy, without consulting the pharmacist first, even if you have used the product before.
This is because the body reacts poorly to numerous medications while pregnant. A treatment that worked before may harm you – or your unborn child.
Let’s take a look at the many toenail fungus treatments available to pregnant women. It is important to note that we will only discuss safe treatments.
Is Oral Antifungal Medicine Safe to Use While Pregnant?
Pregnant women often avoid oral antifungal medications. This is because liver damage is a feared side effect of prolonged use. Also, a fetus can easily be damaged by oral medications.
The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy investigated several prescription medications with this mind. Of 15 medications assessed, just two were deemed safe for pregnant women; Amphotericin B and Terbinafine.
Is It Safe to Use Antifungal Cream While Pregnant?
A topical treatment for toenail fungus, such as Lamisil, is less likely to be dangerous than oral medication. All the same, never use a treatment without first asking your doctor.
One of the problems with using a cream to treat toenail fungus is that it’s often unsuccessful. This is because the nail now protects the fungal spores that are hidden away underneath.
Essential Oils and Toenail Fungus
A lot of debate rages regarding the suitability of essential oils during pregnancy. Some believe that all should be avoided, while others claim that certain oils are safe.
Before making use of essential oils, you should always consult a doctor. If your doctor agrees to the use of essential oils, investigate a blend referred to as Thieves Oil. This blend of oils comprises of the following:
- 20 x drops Cinnamon
- 40 x drops Clove
- 15 x drops Eucalyptus
- 35 x drops Lemon
- 10 x drops Rosemary
This can be mixed with a carrier oil, such as almond. When rubbed on the impacted toenail, this mix can be effective against fungal infections.
Allow us to stress again that essential oils should never be used without medical approval. If you do proceed with the use of essential oils, dilute them heavily.
Tea Tree Oil for Treating Toenail Fungus
Of all essential oil treatments for toenail fungus, tea tree oil is widely considered the most impactful. One thing must be made clear is that tea tree oil is never to be consumed orally.
There are two methods of using tea tree oil to combat toenail fungus:
- Apply the oil to a cotton ball, and rub directly on the impacted toenail twice daily
- Apply tea tree oil to a foot soak
The oil should be diluted before use. If applying directly, mix the tea tree oil with coconut or olive oil. As always, you will still need to wash and dry your feet regularly. You should also still consult a doctor before using tea tree oil. Although widely deemed pregnancy-safe, it is an essential oil.
Antifungal Toenail Polish While Pregnant
If you decide to use this treatment, stick with Dr.’s Remedy enriched nail polish. This is a recognized treatment for toenail fungus, and is safe to use during pregnancy.
Dr.’s Remedy nail polish is available as a polish, or can be applied through a pen. A single coat takes just a minute to apply. Typically, this product will hide toenail fungus while treating it.
Dr.’s Remedy can be purchased without a prescription from a pharmacy. However, it is always advisable to request a consultancy before committing.
If you want more than a safe cover up with antifungal properties, ask your doctor about Ciclopirox or Lorecyl. These are prescription-only toenail polishes designed to treat fungal infection. Both polishes are considered safe for pregnant women.
Foot Soaks to Treat Toenail Fungus
A foot soak can be very welcome for a pregnant woman. Not only will it aid with toenail fungus, but it will be relaxing for weary feet.
Arranging a foot soak is simple. All you’ll need is a plastic bowl. Fill this with warm water, and add apple cider vinegar and baking soda. ACV can be a powerful antifungal agent.
Repeating this treatment for 20 minutes each day is a welcome and relaxing treatment against fungus. However, the feet must be washed and dried very thoroughly afterward.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Toenail Fungus
Hydrogen peroxide can also be applied to a foot soak to treat nail fungus. Hydrogen peroxide and baking powder has powerful antioxidant qualities.
This product requires careful management, however. Numerous rules surround the use of hydrogen peroxide, especially when pregnant.
- Never purchase a hydrogen peroxide solution stronger than 3%.
- Hydrogen peroxide must be diluted to a 50:50 ratio, minimum.
- Avoid exposing the feet or skin to this hydrogen peroxide foot soak longer than 30 minutes.
- Do not consume hydrogen peroxide orally.
Follow these steps, and hydrogen peroxide is beneficial for pregnant women with toenail fungus.
Vicks VapoRub for Toenail Fungus
Although primarily used as a chest decongestant, Vicks VapoRub can treat toenail fungus. This is because it contains thymol, menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil.
According to Podiatry Today, thymol is believed to prevent fungi from growing and spreading. As a result, applying VapoRub to a mild fungal toenail should get rid of any fungal spores.
Is Toenail Fungus Dangerous While Pregnant?
Some pregnant women may be keen to avoid any medical interaction. This could result in the decision to ignore their toenail fungus issue.
This is inadvisable. Toenail fungus is more than just an aesthetic problem. If left untreated, it can cause further issues. If nothing else, it will become painful to walk on.
A woman going through pregnancy will also be vulnerable to infection already. Ignoring toenail fungus will only magnify this susceptibility to sickness. This could have long-term repercussions for mother and child.
Additionally, as noted in industry journal PLOS Pathogens, toenail fungus will not clear up without treatment. This could lead to a chronic problem through pregnancy, and beyond.
Health Problems Caused by Untreated Toenail Fungus
If toenail fungus goes untreated, the fungus can spread throughout the body. This results in cracked skin, and bacterial infection.
Even if the infection does not spread, a fungus can cause painful, misshapen toenails. In some cases, the nail may even need to be permanently removed. There is nothing to gain by ignoring a fungal infection.
Can Toenail Fungus Harm an Unborn Baby?
Toenail fungus in itself is harmless to an unborn baby. If the fungal infection spreads (due to low immune health) and causes a secondary sickness, however, it can damage a fetus. Inappropriate treatment for toenail fungus can cause significant health concerns for unborn children.
Note that toenail fungus is not a hereditary condition. Experiencing toenail fungus while pregnant does not mean the child will be born with it. It’s very rare for children younger than 6 to develop toenail function. It’s much more common among older adults.
Treating any medical ailment while pregnant can be a delicate balancing act. This includes toenail fungus. Although this problem may seem initially innocuous, it should not be ignored. What starts as a minor inconvenience can spread, and become a serious concern.
Toe fungus while pregnant does not necessitate a trip to the emergency room. You should, however, look to treat it safely. While some oral medications are unsuitable, there will always be treatment options available.