Foot fungus hell
June 23, 2017 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I've been dealing with foot and toenail fungus for years and it is not getting any better. Topical solutions work temporarily but not completely. Two of my toenails have fallen off and my feet look disgusting. My right foot especially is constantly peeling and flaky on the bottom. I have no health insurance. What do I do?

If I had insurance I'd just see a podiatrist or whoever I need to see and have them deal with the toenails and prescribe me oran antifungal pills. What are my options with no insurance? How much will this end up costing me? I'd like to be able to go to the beach and wear sandals again.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
(This is all assuming you're located in the US)

Your local podiatry school may have a free or low cost clinic, similar to dental school clinics. If not, it's absolutely OK to cold call podiatrists in your area and ask how much a consultation would cost. Many people are uninsured and many insurance plans don't cover podiatry, so they should be familiar with people paying out of pocket. Oral antifungals are mostly generic and fairly inexpensive out of pocket. Make sure your provider understands you are uninsured and prescribes the most affordable treatment appropriate to your condition.

Foot fungus sometimes enters the realm of requiring specialized podiatry but is often treated by primary care physicians. If you have access to a free or low cost primary care clinic, definitely start there. This tool can help you locate free or low cost clinics near you.

Finally, even if you are able to see a podiatrist (instead of a PCP), I would recommend trying to see a PCP if you have not. Foot fungus happens to lots of people for lots of reasons, and certainly happens often for no reason at all, but can also be associated with chronic medical conditions (e.g. diabetes). There are resources available for people without insurance so even if you feel like it isn't worth getting diagnosed because you can't afford treatment, that is often not the case.
posted by telegraph at 7:35 AM on June 23, 2017 [5 favorites]

You can try soaking your feet everyday in a mix of Epsom salt, baking soda , sea salt with a few drops of tea tree essential oil (you can also add lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint as well) for thirty minutes.

Dry off feet and massage in tea tree oil(plus the other essential oils if you have them) diluted in coconut oil (about 20 drops to one ounce). Apply the oil blend twice or thrice a day.

Do this for a week or so and see if you notice any improvement.If you do, continue until the problem goes away.

Other things to note: Avoid walking around in public barefoot. Wear socks made of natural materials. Put baking soda in your shoes to freshen them up. Keep feet dry and clean in general.
posted by whitelotus at 8:29 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I had a particularly evil case of foot funk a number of years ago and could not get rid of it. My coworker suggested that I soak my feet in a betadine and warm water solution. After about a week, it got much better and after about two weeks of nightly soaking, it was gone.

You should still see if you can get into an urgent care clinic or something to make sure there isn't something big as an underlying cause, but betadine is pretty well known for dealing with this.
posted by teleri025 at 8:34 AM on June 23, 2017

You really need to treat systemic fungus with oral medication. Can you scrape together enough money for an urgent care/county clinic visit? The medication should be negligible (take the Target $4 list with you; I can't get the Walmart list to expand but it should be roughly the same), you just need to pay for the office visit.

You do not need a podiatrist to prescribe an antifungal.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:05 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

You also have to get new shoes, ideally several that you rotate daily so that they completely dry before you wear then again. New socks, too, as many times socks are grossly infected and don't get decontaminated with regular laundering. No treatments will be effective if you're just putting your feet back into fungus-filled shoes and socks.
posted by quince at 9:12 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you Google foot fungus and apple cider vinegar several remedies come up. I think trying one of the soaks suggested above or simply some acv in water is worth a try. It won't injure you and acv is cheap. I got rid of my kids' molloscum contagium with apple cider vinegar soaks.
posted by biggreenplant at 10:21 AM on June 23, 2017

It might not be fungus. I had a similar foot thing that wouldn't go away and it turned out to be bacteria due to hyperhydrosis. Cure was antiperspirant.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:30 AM on June 23, 2017

RE: laundering your socks. For white socks, try the hot water cycle, bleach, and a very hot dryer; for dark socks, sub white vinegar for bleach in the rinse cycle.

N'thing everyone who answered 'get a proper diagnosis.' I know a couple of people with diabetes who have this problem, and they've used Vick's VapoRub (Mayo Clinic link) on their feet (alongside having the diabetes addressed).
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:50 AM on June 23, 2017

Here's a round-up of DIY nail fungus remedies from the People's Pharmacy site.
posted by Iris Gambol at 11:00 AM on June 23, 2017

My husband had persistent toenail fungus for years until a podiatrist told him to get a lab test to see what specific fungus it was. Then they prescribed oral antifungals for three months (i think it was a pill for three days, every few weeks or something like that). We're in Mexico and the whole process wasn't really expensive at all.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2017

- Rub in Redmond's Real Salt (ancient sea salt, which is purer than salt from the current oceans)
- Get a dehumidifier
- Take showers not baths
- Make sure your shower drains well so you're not showering in half an inch of water!!
- Go barefoot around the house to avoid sweat
- Dry between your toes
- File down any thick nails so that whatever topical stuff you're using (hydrogen peroxide is good) penetrates well.
posted by serena15221 at 5:53 PM on June 23, 2017

Oral terbinafine is generic and has lots of manufacturers in the US, and any low cost primary care doc (urgent care, community clinic, etc.) or a nurse practitioner (depending on jurisdiction) should be able to prescribe it to you. IANAD but I don't think this will end up costing you much.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:57 PM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another home remedy: A family member had great success treating persistent toenail fungus with white iodine.
posted by amusebuche at 5:11 AM on June 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

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