Toenail fungus is a common but extremely disturbing condition that can result in extreme pain and discomfort. It begins as a white or yellow spot beneath your fingernails or toenails and if neglected spreads deeper. Inflammation then sets in increasing the yellowing and thickness of nails which soon start splitting, crumbling or even breaking. Also known as Onychomychosis, toenail fungus shouldn’t be taken lightly as it could result in the inflammation spreading to skin and neighboring areas.
1 The common causes of Toenail fungus
Most fungal infections of the nails are caused by the same type of fungi or dermatophytes such as Candida (yeast) and non dermatophytic molds all of which also cause jock itch, athlete’s foot and ringworm. The reasons that cause and increase the risk of toenail fungal infections are poor hygiene, sweaty socks, diabetes, decreased immunity, cancer, psoriasis, aging, excessive perspiration, trauma, nail injury and immunosuppressive medication like sterioids. It can also be contracted from moist warm environments; communal showers gyms, and visiting beauty salons using unsanitized instruments.Toenail fungus is not highly contagious although it can be transmitted from frequent intimate contact. While medication exists for fungal conditions, you can also try this time tested and proven natural remedies for toenail fungus.
One of nature’s most powerful antibiotics, Garlic can treat almost every disease and is a potent immunity booster. Research (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9009665) has found Ajoene an organosulfur extracted from Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic to be extremely effective in treatment of fungal infections of the foot. Chop or crush garlic and place it on the affected area, cover with a bandage and allow it to remain for a few hours everyday. Alternately you can also consume 5 cloves of garlic or garlic pills daily to treat the infection from the inside.
2 Baking Soda and Sodium Borate
Fungus thrives in a warm moist environment. Alkaline baking soda will create an unsuitable environment for the fungi decreasing it from spreading. Sodium borate or borax is also a potent natural fungicide. Make a paste by mixing an equal part of borax powder and baking soda with water. Rub the paste into the infected area. Do this twice a day for two weeks till the fungus clears.
3 Apple cider vinegar
The acidic content of ACV will not only kill fungi cells but also prevent spread of the condition. Apple cider vinegar is well known for treating candida or yeast infections. Soak you foot in 1 cup of apple cider vinegar mixed in water daily for 30 minutes. Dry your toenail with a clean dry cloth after the treatment. You can also apply ACV directly with a cotton swab or use it as an exfoliating scrub on the area by making a paste of ACV and rice flour. This will remove dead skin cells and soften skin for faster healing.
4 Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is an excellent remedy for antifungal applications. It contains the active ingredients linalool and linalyl acetate as well as beneficial ketones and Terpens proven by research https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4606594/ as effective antifungal agents. Apply just a few drops of Lavender oil with a cotton swab to the affected area every night. Cover your feet with a pair of wool socks to prevent the oil from coming off. Continue the treatment even after the condition clears to prevent it from recurring.
5 Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is widely used as an effective fungicidal and antiseptic as well as a proven natural remedy for toe nail fungus. First clean the affected area with rubbing alcohol. Use a different cotton swab to apply the tea tree oil directly on the affected nail allowing the oil to soak in. After 15 minutes, scrub the nail gently with a soft bristle toothbrush. Before applying tea tree oil it is advisable to apply a drop in your skin to check if you aren’t sensitive to essential oils. You could also consider mixing tea tree oil with coconut, olive or almond oil. Repeat the treatment twice daily till the fungus is cleared completely.
6 Coconut oil
Coconut oil, besides lauric acid also contains caprylic acid a medium chain fatty acid that attacks the cell walls of candida and related fungi. This dissolves the fungal cells destroying the infection. Using a cotton swab, soak it in coconut oil generously and apply on the affected area and allow it to remain for 15 to 20 minutes. Coconut oil is excellent for skin and there are limitless ways you can use it. However ensure that you aren’t allergic to coconut before resorting to this treatment. Studies in Nigeria https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651080 found that coconut oil was extremely effective in species of drug resistant candida.
7 Clove oil
Clove is highly effective in killing candida. Clove has antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties rich in an ingredient called eugenol which increases its medicinal benefits against fungus and yeast infections. Clove oil should be used sparingly as it is abit strong and can cause skin irritation. Use 4-8 drops of clove oil 1% mixed with 2 tsp coconut oil and apply directly on the affected area for best results. Clove can also be taken orally through capsule form or brewing a green tea along with clove.
8 Oregano oil
Oregano oil is one of the best natural remedies for toenail fungus as it contains the active ingredient thymol. Research studies published in Food chemistry 210 issue of November 2016 has proven thymol as an active monoterpene phenol with potent antifungal properties. Mix two drops of oregano oil alongwith 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and apply on the toenail. Leave it on for 30 minutes and then wash off with clean water. Repeat daily for two weeks.
9 Orange oil
Orange oil is known to be quite effective in treating toe nail fungus. You can either combine a few drops of orange oil with a few drops of tea tree oil along with a common carrier such as almond or coconut oil and apply to the affected area. Alternately mix a few drops of orange oil with abit of white vinegar and alcohol solution and apply on the fungus. Before trying orange oil apply some to your skin to see if there are no side effects. You can also apply one or two drops of orange oil between your toes and under the toenails with a dropper. Apply for two weeks.
While many natural remedies for toenail fungus list external applications, it is also the internal issues which are equally important. Consuming foods rich in probiotics such as lacto bacillus can help increase the healing process because of a byproduct secreted by the pro bacteria which is harmful for candida. Consuming a probiotic supplement along with your fungal treatment is beneficial to promote a healthy gut and constitution which will hinder the growth and spread of parasitic fungi.
A healthy diet and proper hygiene can increase healing of toenail fungus
While home remedies work effectively against mild to moderate fungal infections, they may take longer in severe conditions which will require prescription medication as advised by your doctor. There are several factors influencing the treatment or spread of fungus including hygiene and general health. Always ensure a healthy and nutritious diet free from processed food and excess sugar that can contribute to the spread of candida. Drink plenty of water and always ensure the affected areas are clean and dry. Avoid synthetic socks and wear cotton garments only. A foot soak daily in a bowl of water mixed with a little potassium permanganate (condys crystals) is also recommended for disinfecting the area.