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Ask Dr. Gott 4/2
Fungus needs tougher treatment
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: For the past 2-1/2 years, I have had a fungus on one of my big toes. It appeared after a staph infection on the same toe. I have since been slathering it with Vicks VapoRub twice a day. I have not seen any improvement.
    Would you recommend that I see a podiatrist? How safe are the drugs used to treat nail fungus? What are the side effects?
    I am 77 years old and take a few medications for high blood pressure, arthritis and glaucoma.
    DEAR READER: Vicks VapoRub does not always work. In most cases, it will take several weeks to several months before improvement is seen (depending on how fast your nails grow). Since you have been applying the rub for more than a year now, I fear you are one of the unfortunate few for whom this treatment does not work.
    I recommend you see a podiatrist. He or she will most likely culture the fungus to determine what kind it is and what medicine it is sensitive to.
    As far as medications, they are frightfully expensive, and most need to be taken for extended periods (usually three to six months) before results can be seen. The most common side effect is liver damage. Be sure to tell your physician what medications you are taking to ensure that the fungal medication will not interact with them adversely. He or she may offer other options, such as topical ointments. Make an appointment with a podiatrist for an examination and discussion. You do not need to make any medication decisions at that appointment. Remember, nail fungus will not cause any ill health; it is simply an aesthetic problem.
    If you don't want to see a podiatrist, however, there are several other home-remedy and over-the-counter options. Some of my readers have had success by soaking their feet in a tub of pau d'arco tea. Simply steep the tea and then soak your feet in it twice a day until improvement is noticed, at which point you can cut back to once a day. It can be found in most health-food stores and online. Other readers have had success using white vinegar. This is applied with a cotton ball or swab to the affected nail and surrounding skin once or twice a day. A final option is a product called Miranel. It is an ointment brushed onto the nail twice a day. The product includes an application brush and a nail file to thin the nail. It is available at Wal-Mart and most pharmacies.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Dr. Gott's Compelling Home Remedies."
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