Nail polish for fungus, also called antifungal lacquer, can be applied daily to fingernails or toenails that have been infected with fungus. The active ingredient in nail polish for fungus is ciclopirox, an antifungal agent. Antifungal nail polish is not designed to be used for cosmetic purposes and usually is clear in color, although it might appear yellowish in some cases. The polish can be used on both finger and toenails.
In the United States and some other countries, nail polish for fungus and other medications containing ciclopirox might be available only with a doctor's prescription. Although the polish is not effective 100 percent of the time, a patient should not use it in combination with other antifungal treatments such as topical creams or oral medications. A patient also should avoid painting his or her nails with regular, cosmetic nail polish when using an antifungal lacquer.
To get the most benefit, a patient should apply nail polish for fungus once a day. He or she should paint the nails with the lacquer, as well as the skin next to the nail and the underside of the nail. The polish needs to dry for about 30 seconds before the patient can put on socks or other coverings. When using the polish on toenails, a person should wear cotton socks. Ideally, the socks should allow the nails to breathe.
After using nail polish for fungus for seven days in a row, the user should remove built-up layers of the lacquer with rubbing alcohol. He or she should trim any affected nails to remove damaged areas. Once a month, a patient might need to see a doctor to have portions of the affected nail removed.
It might take almost a year for the polish to work completely. A patient might not see any results from the polish for as long as six months. Even if the fungal infection seems to clear up, the person should continue to use the polish as directed by a doctor. Using nail polish for fungus for longer than 48 weeks is usually not recommended.
Antifungal nail polish shouldn't be used by patients who have a suppressed immune system or diabetes. A woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding should check with her doctor before using the polish. The polish should be applied only to nails that are infected with fungus. A patient should keep the polish away from his or her mouth and eyes.
Nail polish for fungus is flammable, so a patient should avoid using it near a source of heat or an open flame. Ideal storage conditions for the polish are at room temperature in a dry area. It should be stored in a cabinet, away from direct light.