Is it Safe to Treat Toenail Fungus During Pregnancy?


Fungal infection in toenails causes pain and discomfort while walking and limit one’s activities. While the treatment options vary from natural to medicinal and from topical to systemic, the doctor will diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

In this article:

How Do You Know if You Have Toenail Fungus Infection?
Causes for Toenail Fungal Infections During Pregnancy
How Do You Treat Toenail Fungus When Pregnant?
Which Anti-fungal is Safe in Pregnancy?
Is it Safe to Treat Toenail Fungus While Pregnant?
Ways to Prevent Nail Fungus During Pregnancy
Natural Remedies to Treat Toenail Fungus During Pregnancy

How Do You Know if You Have Toenail Fungus Infection?

The body undergoes substantial changes during pregnancy, so it is difficult to tell if a fungal infection is a problem. The typical symptoms of toenail fungus include-

  • Toenails becoming substantially thicker than usual
  • Toenails becoming discolored, usually with shades of yellow or brown
  • Toenails becoming very brittle, crumbling under pressure or impact
  • Toenails growing into uncharacteristic and distorted shapes
  • Toenails emitting a foul smell

toenail fungus while pregnant


Causes for Toenail Fungal Infections During Pregnancy

Around 85-90% of fungal nail infections are caused by a fungal organism like Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes. These are highly resistant organism and can survive in damp or moist environments. The following factors may toenails more susceptible to fungal infections –

  • Wearing tight-fitting shoes and hosiery
  • Poor foot hygiene
  • Covering the nail with multiple layers of nail polish which is not good
  • A condition such as diabetes

How Do You Treat Toenail Fungus When Pregnant?   

The treatment options are –Topical antifungal medications –


Imidazoles, clotrimazole and miconazole are considered safe for topical therapy for fungal skin infections during pregnancy and could be purchased over-the-counter but it is not advisable to self-medicate, especially when pregnant, so consult the doctor for the right diagnosis and appropriate medicine.

Nail Polishes

These may be tried during the initial or early stages of the infection. In this, the affected nail is removed as much as possible before applying the nail polish. Penlac is one such brand of nail polish that can be used. The USFDA has categorized this drug under “Pregnancy Category B” which means animal studies have not shown any risk to the fetus and there are no adequate studies on pregnant women. So the doctor might prescribe this medication when the benefits outweigh the risks.


Oral Anti-fungal Medications

The use of oral anti-fungal agents should be limited during pregnancy, as they may affect the fetus. Research suggests that some medicines for fungal infections could increase the risk of fetus malformations. But there is no conclusive evidence on it. So, the doctor may weigh the benefits and risks of oral fungal medications before prescribing them. Self-medicating with over-the-counter anti-fungal medicines during pregnancy is not advised and should be avoided.

Surgical or Laser Therapy

In severe cases, laser therapy or surgical removal of the nail may be recommended. After surgery, a new, healthy nail will naturally and generally grow back, although it may take a year. Laser therapy can also be used to treat nail fungus.

Which Anti-fungal is Safe in Pregnancy?

Topical antifungal creams are safe in pregnancy and can be used. They are fine to use throughout pregnancy because not enough of the drug enters the bloodstream to cause a problem. Oral anti-fungal medications should only be used during pregnancy when the benefits outweigh the risks and recommended by the doctor.

Careful consideration of the benefit to the mother and the risk of the baby is required when prescribing anti-fungal treatment in pregnancy. Imidazoles are considered as safe as a topical therapy for fungal skin infections during pregnancy.


Is it Safe to Treat Toenail Fungus While Pregnant?

According to the Global Nail Fungus Organization, when detected in the early stages, fungal toenail infections can be treated and cured safely. There are several natural and medicinal treatment options available, the doctor may determine the type of treatment required.

Ways to Prevent Nail Fungus During Pregnancy

Here are the following few natural ways that may help prevent fungal nail infections –

  • Practice proper foot hygiene by regularly washing them with soap and drying them thoroughly at least once a day.
  • While showering in public showers, wear rubber shoes, flip flops or shower clogs.
  • Choose shoes that fit properly, with enough space around the toes and fingers.
  • Make sure there is proper air circulation within the footwear.
  • Choose socks that are made from cotton material.
  • If the feet sweat excessively, then change the socks every day and wash them regularly.
  • Avoid sharing nail clippers with others.
  • Of the feet tend to be wet, consider using drying powders that can help keep the feet dry.
  • Keep nails trimmed, clipping them straight across the top.
  • Disinfect home pedicure tools which include tools used to trim the nails.
  • Do not use nail polish on infected nails or nails that may suspect infection.

These preventive measures may help reduce the risk of fungal infection. If any abnormal changes are noticed in the nails, then consult the doctor.

Natural Remedies to Treat Toenail Fungus During Pregnancy

Here are a few natural remedies that have been in use but not all of them may be having conclusive scientific evidence.


Tea Tree Oil

According to a randomized study, tea tree oil might be helpful in treating toenail fungus. The US National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy suggests that properly diluted tea tree oil may be safe for use during pregnancy for fungal infection.

Vicks Vaporub

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 15 out of 18 participants displayed a positive effect with the use of vicks vaporub for toenail fungus infection and hence could be an option for treatment.


Toenail fungus can be treated safely during pregnancy, especially if it is started early. Consult the doctor for proper treatment. Try natural remedies and prevent the infection.