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Lamisil for nail fungus

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Lamisil (containing the active ingredient terbinafine) is an antifungal medicine used to treat fungal nail infections. Lamisil is available as a cream and a spray over-the-counter for treating athlete's foot, jock itch, and ringworm. The terbinafine tablets for treating deeper fungal nail infections and other conditions are only available on prescription.

Doctor’s advice

Fungal infections

A fungal nail infection can also infect the skin (or vice versa), so it often goes hand-in-hand (pardon the pun) with athlete’s foot, a fungal infection between toes and on the soles of the feet. If this is the case, you should get this treated at the same time as your nails.

Your pharmacist can help, suggesting an antifungal nail cream or lacquer, and a nail softening cream. Be warned, it’s a long game and aims to remove the infected nail or halt the spread of infection until it grows out.

Athlete’s foot, and to a lesser extent, fungal nail infection – can spread by sharing towels, bed linen, shoes, and nail clippers or scissors. You should wear shoes or sandals in communal areas such as changing rooms, especially if the floors are warm and moist. Keep feet well-aired and avoid shoes that make them feel hot and sweaty. Try to keep your nails as short as possible.

Who is it for?

Lamisil cream can be purchased to try and treat early fungal nail infections, although your doctor may recommend prescription terbinafine tablets if they think the creams are not likely to work on the fungal infection, depending on severity.

How does it work?

Lamisil works by killing the fungus which treats the infection and symptoms. For nail infections with cream, treatment may be needed for a long time, such as a year. Topical treatments such as Lamisil have the best chance of working if they are started at a very early stage.

Prescription treatments

If the base of the nail bed (known as the lunula) is affected, or if you have more than a few fingers and toes affected, it may be worth speaking to your doctor for a prescription-based treatment with a course of antifungal tablets for a few months instead.

Your doctor will likely ask you to take nail clippings to confirm the diagnosis before considering you for antifungal tablets. Again, treatment is a long game – at least 3 to 6 months, and you may need to repeat some blood tests to check on your liver along the way.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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