Ciclopirox (Penlac) is a prescription-strength antifungal topical product that has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of fungal nail infections.
How It Works
Ciclopirox is a chemical that you paint on your nails like nail polish. It works by stopping the fungus from growing. You apply it daily (usually at bedtime) to both the nail and the skin around the nail.
You must carefully trim your nails once a week while using ciclopirox. You’ll also need to see your doctor once a month for a more professional trimming.
Ciclopirox’s most common side effects are reddening of the skin and mild burning or itching. Less common side effects include swelling, blistering and severe itching or burning. If you develop these symptoms, stop using the product and call your doctor.
Most users of ciclopirox need to apply the chemical to their nails for at least a year before the infected part of the treated nail is gone. Unfortunately, however, you may not experience any improvement. Although studies have shown ciclopirox to be more effective than a placebo, its cure rate is only about 30 percent.
Topical Treatments that Don’t Work
Over-the-counter antifungal nail creams and ointments have not been shown to be effective at treating nail infections.
People have also tried hydrogen peroxide, bleach, baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil and many other home remedies to get rid of a fungal nail infection. None of these remedies work. If you have an unsightly or painful nail, see your doctor.