Have you ever experienced a white spot on your nail plate slowly changing yellow? It can smell unpleasant too. Foul maybe. It is a very displeasing business to deal with. Who wants a foul smelling yellow-nailed feet? That is the last thing you ever want in life (pun intended). Toenail fungus might seem tame and mild at the beginning, but early detection and treatment is vital if you want to keep walking! It can get that serious. In this article on home remedies for toenail fungus information has been given on the easily available oils from the kitchen you can use for effective treatment of this discomfort.
What Is Toe Nail Fungus?
As mentioned above, toenail fungus is a fungal infection that begins as a tiny white spot under or the tip of your toenail / fingernail. Scientifically it is called Onychomycosis (pronounced as on-ih-koh-my-KOH-sis). It makes your toenail thicker and change color over time, usually yellow in color. Fungal infection happens in your toenails because they are always damp and warm. This combination creates suitable breeding grounds for fungus. Different kinds of fungus, bacteria and even yeast infect different parts of the nail. The infection is also capable to spread to other toenails, fingernails, and even the skin. If left untreated, it may even impair your ability to work or walk! The resulting thicker nails will make it difficult to trim and painful to walk in closed shoes.
[tsins-tabs style=””] [tab title=Causes] Your toes are vulnerable to the outside environment. While it is practically impossible to avoid contact with microorganisms like fungi and bacteria in places where you are most probably going to be walking barefoot, like in a gym shower room, in one way or the other, infection is bound to happen. Toenails have less blood flow than the fingers. Hence, it is harder for the body’s immune system to detect and stop the infection. Toenail fungus is much more susceptible to occur to those who have passed 50, where aging takes place and there is lesser blood flow to the toes (more exposure to fungi).
In addition to this factor, wearing synthetic socks hinders the process of ventilation and does not absorb sweat. Also, working in a constant wet or humid environment such as bartending and housekeeping increase the risk of contracting a toenail fungal infection. Other causes also include walking barefoot in communal areas such as swimming pools and gyms. Having a minor skin disorder such a psoriasis and above that, toenail fungal infection is prone to happen to people who are diagnosed with diabetes, blood circulation problems, immunity problems and in children, those with Down Syndrome.
[/tab] [tab title=Symptoms]
Some of the symptoms are as below:
- Nails are thicker than usual
- Warped or oddly shaped
- Nails are brittle
- Paraesthesia (sensation of pricking, tingling for no objective cause and usually associated with nerve injury)
- In severe cases of Candida, the infection can disfigure the fingertips and nails.
[/tab] [tab title=Home Remedies class=”active”] Here are a few natural remedies that are cost friendly and easily available from home.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is claimed to be world’s greatest ‘one for all, all for one’ remedy. You will know the amazing healing and repairing benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in this article. This ‘fluid’ can be used both internally and externally or even both. There are few methods designed separately for fingernails and toenails. These methods are described as follows:
First Method For Treatment Of Toe Fungus
A. Apple Cider Vinegar and Water
Mix apple cider vinegar and water in the ratio 1:1
Soak infected nail(s) in the solution for at least half an hour
Remove nail(s) from the solution and dry.
Continue with this process for the next four weeks.
Second Method For Curing Toenail fungus
2. Apple Cider Vinegar and Rice Flour
Form a paste with rice flour and about 2-3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.
Apply the paste to the infected nail(s) to exfoliate and remove the dead skin cells surrounding the nails and finger(s).
Leave the paste on the nail(s) for a few minutes, a maximum of 5 minutes. Wash and wipe the nail(s) dry.
Repeat regularly for optimal results.
How Does It Work?
When the skin becomes alkaline, the area becomes a breeding ground for the fungus. ACV increases the acidity of the skin, thereby balancing the pH and eliminating the fungus (curing the discomfort caused due to the toe nail fungus). The acidity of this ‘fluid’ can also help in relieving itching and pain. Since the process of developing vinegar is a long process, it is abundant in bioactive compounds such as gallic acid, catechin, caffeic acid & epicatechin and other antimicrobial properties.
Other benefits: The potassium in ACV thins out the mucus; the acetic acid can prevent bacteria growth. Other acids such as lactic acid and malic acid help in softening and exfoliation of the skin, they even reduce the red spots etc.
If your blood is set to acidic levels, you can become prone to illness. ACV, if ingested according to suitable instructions assists in restoring the body’s pH.
Note: It is always recommended to buy raw, organic, unpasteurized and unfiltered ACV for this purpose.
Not Good, If:
You are a diabetic. If you are suffering from (PVD) peripheral vascular diseases or any disorder in which the blood flow is affected to the foot, then kindly seek the guidance of a doctor.
3. Oil of Oregano
Oregano oil is derived/taken from the Oregano herb. This oil has a concentrated amount of Oregano’s fungicidal properties and is very powerful at combating fungal infection. However, warning! Oil of Oregano is so powerful that it can cause skin irritation. This means you would not want to apply this undiluted oil directly onto your skin unless you can cope up with redness and burning sensations. Dilution of essential oils is not done with water, (obviously!) but they are done with other carrier oils.
Carrier oils can be jojoba oil or olive oil. Jojoba oil is a more expensive option since it can mimic the skin’s natural sebum consistency. However, if you are on a tight budget and planning to spend thriftily, olive oil is a good economic option.
Dilute two or three drops of the oregano essential oil in about a teaspoon of olive oil.
Rub this mixture over the infected toenail (or fingernail).
Always try to keep the toe exposed to fresh air as much as possible.
Repeat the process till the discomfort of toe nail fungus gets cured.
Note: Clothing such as socks and footwear can serve to trap moisture in the foot area and, will lead to fungi breeding easily in warm, humid environments.
How Does It Work?
The oil contains rich resources of phenols – the natural phytochemical compounds having antioxidant effects. Among the many, the two helping in the curing of toe fungus are:
Thymol – having antiseptic properties. The immunity system of the body is boosted; the damage of skin tissues are prevented and it gives a healing effect to wounds.
Carvacrol – this medicinal compound is effective against infections by Staphylococcus, Klebsiella, listeria and Pseudomonas.
Other than the two above mentioned, there are also other compounds such as terpenes, caryophyllene, ocimene, limonene, rosmarinic acid, naringin and beta-caryophyllene (E-BCP). Some of the nutrients found in this oil are calcium, zinc, potassium, iron, vitamins A, E, C and niacin.
Not Good, IF:
As explained in the first paragraph of the Oregano oil topic, you have to dilute the oil with either coconut oil or olive oil. Especially when you are using for sensitive regions such as genital areas and mucous membranes. At any time, do not allow the oil to get in the eyes.
You have children. Keep the oil container away from their reach.
You are allergic to the family plants of Lamiaceae such as hyssop, lavender, mint, sage, marjoram and basil. You can experience the same symptoms.
4. Tea Tree Oil
This oil is usually associated with pimples and acne. However, it works amazingly well for toenail fungus as well. Tea tree oil is extracted/taken from Melaleuca alternifolia tree and is well known for its antiseptic & antibacterial properties. According to a survey, recently tea tree oil has been used to treat toenail fungus infection.
Apply a few drops of the this oil on the infected nails a few times in the day. People who are sensitive to direct tea tree oil application can try soaking their nails in treated water or try applying treated lotion or powder. There are few ways to go about using tea tree oil to treat toenail fungus. They include:
Effective Treatment Of Toe Nail Fungus – Tea Tree Hand And Foot Soak
Add half-cup of warm apple cider vinegar, five drops of essential tea tree oil, one drop of sandalwood oil or 2 drops of peppermint oil and form a mixture.
You can put the mixture to a basin of warm water.
Soak the legs and the affected area for quarter of an hour to thirty minutes.
How Does It Work?
There are many medicinal hydrocarbons (terpene) such as sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes etc. These chemicals are capable of killing bacteria as well as fungus and reduce the allergic reactions of the skin. The names of some of the important terpenes are eucalyptol, terpinen-4-ol, viridiflorol and nerolidol. All these compounds are known for their antimicrobial properties. Terpinen-4-ol is well-known for killing dermatophytes – the main reason for toe nail fungal infections.
Not Good, If:
You are allergic to tea tree oil. Kindly apply a drop and leave it for 15 minutes. If you do not suffer from any irritation, then you can apply the oil to the discomfort area. Or else, you can mix with another oil such as olive oil.
Kindly keep the container having tea tree oil away from the reach of children and house pets. If ingested, it can lead to severe consequences such as diarrhea, vomiting, hallucinations and ataxia.
You are allergic to eucalyptol. You have to exercise caution as tea tree oil can be mixed with eucalyptol.
Note: Kindly remember that this oil has to be preserved in place away from sunlight and the container should be air-tight.
5. Coconut Oil
If you are doubtful that coconut oil will work for toenail fungus, you better be dumping it into the bin because it sure does! Coconut is blessed with so many unique properties and characteristics that make it a ‘go-to’ remedy. However, the anecdotal results have proven that coconut oil has cured many of the toenail fungus ailments.
1. Coconut oil massage – First method for handling toenail fungus infection
Massage coconut oil on affected nail(s) both morning and evening. You can apply two drops on the discomfort area.
It reduces the chance of reoccurrence. Remember to wash hands in between applications.
2. Coconut Oil And Cinnamon Oil – Second method for healing toenail fungus
Add a few drops of cinnamon oil to about two tablespoons of coconut oil.
Stir well and apply this mixture to the infected areas. Let the mixture stay for a while on the nail.
Repeat this process daily to see evident results.
In the process, cinnamon improves blood circulation throughout the nails, and coconut oil acts as a potent anti-fungal agent.
How Does It Work?
Coconut has a rich amount of medium chain fatty acids(natural fungicides – lauric acid, caprylic acid, capric acid and palmitic acid) that can insert themselves into the lipid layer or fat layer of the fungal membrane. It causes disturbance to fungal cell system and brings about cell disintegration and consequently lead to the destruction of the fungus.
Coconut’s main component is called Lauric Acid. It demonstrates anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. These properties are best to beat fungal infections and turn down their reoccurrence. Lauric acid is converted into Monolaurin. It is a compound that is extremely toxic to the fungus causing organisms and disrupts their lipid membranes and destroys them completely.
Additional beneficial components are polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid, monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid, vitamin E, k, and minerals such as iron.
6. Lavender Essential Oil
As it is sweet smelling, lavender oil is also a potent antifungal agent. Scientists tested lavender and found it to be lethal for a range of skin-pathogenic strains known as dermatophytes as well as some species of Candida. Dermatophytes cause infections on skin, nails and hair.
Apply a small drop of oil on the affected nail while paying extra attention to the area underneath the nail.
For severely infected nails, adding Tea Tree oil to Lavender oil can increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Simply apply one drop of each to the affected nail surface at least two times per day although three times would be ideal.
To prevent the oil from rubbing or making a spill, you can wear a pair of woollen socks. It is best to continue application until a week after the disappearance of symptoms.
How Does It Work?
The chief medical constituents are linalool (non-toxic alcohol having germicidal properties), linalyl acetate, camphor and terpinen-4-ol. Other ingredients beneficial in lavender oil are lavandulyl acetate,1,8-cineole, geraniol, limonene and cis-ocimene.
7. Olive Leaf Extract
The extract is known for its anti-viral, anti-bacteria and other beneficial properties. Since it is a detoxifier you can experience some side effects when taking the supplement.
You can take five olive leaves and 500 ml of Vodka from the market.
Take a jar in which both the above components can be housed.
Chop the leaves into small pieces and then mix with alcohol in the container.
Place the jar in a dark place for two weeks and behold you have the olive leaf extract.
You can apply directly on the affected area till you get comfort.
How Does It Work?
The olive tree contains a component called as oleuropein which displays strong anti-viral, anti-parasitic properties.
If you use garlic as raw for toe nail fungus, you can see it has got antifungal properties.
You can take a garlic clove and crush it over the affected area to release the juice.
You can cover the area with cotton gauze.
How Does It Work?
The crushing of the clove releases allicin, the compound that has antifungal properties. The affected area has to be completed covered by the juice. You can also consume garlic but that will help in a longer duration of time.
9. Lemon Juice
The application of lemon juice can assist in getting rid of the toe nail fungus.
Take a lemon, cut it into half and squeeze the juice.
You can take the lemon juice on a cotton ball and with the help of a tape secure it on the affected area.
Remove the tape after fifteen minutes and continue this process for three days.
How Does It Work?
The Citric acid present in lemon juice acts as a powerful anti-septic and anti-fungal agent. The acidic properties present in lemon juice assist in balancing the pH of the body.
10. Clove Oil
The clove oil remedy for toe nail fungus is fruitful if you have pain.
You need the resources of a pestle, mortar, a tight bottle and a lid.
Take half a table spoon of cloves, smash them into thin powder.
Boil them in olive oil for half an hour.
You can place the contents in the bottle and then keep in dark place for two weeks.
You can apply the clove oil directly on the affected area. If the skin around the nails is sensitive, then you can dilute the oil by mixing with coconut or olive oil. You can repeat the process two to three times a day.
How Does It Work?
The magical component is eugenol known for its antifungal properties. It has been found that this oil contain this particular component in the 60 – 90 percent.
Not Good, If:
The oil is too strong. You might feel a stinging sensation.
11. Turmeric Powder
One of the simplest method for toe nail fungus.
You can take two tablespoons of turmeric and add to one tea spoon of water.
Make a paste and apply on the affected area.
You can see the results if you apply consistently for a week.
How Does It Work?
The component is curcumin known for its anti-fungal properties.
So given are the ten home remedies by which you can cure toe nail fungus. We will add more to the list; so have a watch on our articles.
[/tab] [tab title=Valuable Prevention Tips]
Always keep your feet and hands dry. Dry skin and nails are less prone to infection.
Apply talc to hands and feet every time you come out of the shower.
Use appropriate footwear such as shower sandals and shower shoes while using a public pool or shower. Let them dry between uses. You can use apple cider vinegar for preventing fungal growth after using a public pool or shower.
Wear socks that allow movement of air (ventilation). Kindly avoid sharing socks/shoes with others.
Always insist pedicurist or manicurist to sterilize their tubs and tools after every client.
Practice good hygiene at all times.
Avoid going barefoot on public places and the roads.
Spray footwear with anti-fungal solutions such as Febreeze.
It is mandatory not to use nail polish or any artificial nails to cover the infected area.
It is vital to have a strong immune system to ward off any infection.
All type of fungi feed on grains and sugars, so it is necessary to have observation on your diet.
Consume rich sources of omega-3 fatty oils. You can also include pro-biotics in your diet.
[/tab] [tab title=When To See A Doctor]
You need to visit a doctor if:
You notice swelling, tenderness or heat and increased pain
Red streaks extend from the concerned area
Experience symptoms of infection and pain, such as pus in the affected area.
Have fever of 38°C or 100.4°F or more.
The infection is spreading to other areas such as the nail, skin under the nail or surrounding skin
You experience pain in the area
The toenail becomes thick and you face discomfort
Natural Remedy Vs Pharmacy
Besides allopathic treatments like a topical skin cream, oral antifungal drugs (includes terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox)). The way how you treat toenail fungus depends on what type of fungal infection you are targeting or suffering from and how bad the infection is. Lamisil cream has the ingredient known as terbinafine hydrochloride known for its antifungal properties.
An antifungal nail polish is available in the market, called Penlac containing the medicinal compound ciclopirox.