Onychomycosis – commonly known as toenail fungus – is characterized by inflammation, pain, and swelling of the toe, as well as yellowing, thickening, and crumbling of the nail itself. Toenail fungus can be the result of abnormal pH of the skin, continuous exposure to moisture, wearing synthetic socks, compromised immune system, sweat build-up in shoes, poor foot hygiene, or weak circulation such as that caused by diabetes.
Modern medicine addresses toenail fungus with topical treatments, oral anti-fungal medicine, and in some cases surgical removal of the nail. Side effects of these medications may possibly include trouble breathing, swelling of the mouth or face, hives, rashes, blisters, headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, liver damage, weight gain, fatigue, heart problems, fever, diarrhea, and more pain – all just to get rid of fungus on your toenails.
Traditional herbal medicine does the same job using natural oils, fruit juices, and dry goods from your pantry – most of which have no side effects at all (assuming that you aren’t allergic to them.) Easy choice.
5 Common Causes Of Toenail Fungus
The majority of cases of toenail fungus are caused by dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are fungi that can cause superficial infections of the skin, hair and nails. These fungi cause an infection when you come in contact with items that are infected such as shoes, socks etc,.
Yeasts and molds are also responsible for fungal infections. An overgrowth of yeast, also known as candida, can cause toenail fungus. If your toenail fungus is caused by yeast you will generally see some unsightly buildup under the nail.
Here are just some of the ways that you can pick up toenail fungus.
Walking barefoot in public places: Sure, taking your shoes off may feel great but it can also lead to toenail fungus. Toenail fungus starts when moisture gets trapped under the nail. This can easily happen when you walk barefoot.It is also easy to pick up toenail fungus from walking in public places as fungus can survive for up to 6 months on surfaces. The most common public places where you can pick up toenail fungus include swimming pools and public showers. Protect yourself by wearing sandals in public pool areas and public showers.
Toenail injury: There are two types of injuries that can occur to your toenail. The first is acute trauma where the nail is impacted over and over again as in the case of a runner wearing shoes that don’t fit well. The other thing that can happen is blunt trauma where something falls on your toe such as a heavy object and causes an injury. This injury makes your toenail more susceptible to fungus. It is important in both cases to look after your toenails properly to avoid an infection.
Pedicure gone wrong: Nail salons are a dangerous place when it comes to nail fungus. If tools are not properly sanitized fungus can run rampant. To be sure you don’t become the next victim of toenail fungus be sure that you choose a reliable nail salon and even ask if they sterilize their tools between customers.
Poor immune system: Sometimes toenail fungus starts from inside and if your immune system is compromised you are more susceptible to toenail fungus. Diet, medications or certain health conditions can weaken an immune system. If your immune system is not strong you can get a nail fungus and it can easily spread to other parts of the body.
Other people’s shoes, socks towels etc: As mentioned, toenail fungus is highly contagious and you should avoid contact with infected belongings at all cost if you wish to remain fungus free.
10 Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the best remedies for toenail fungus, apple cider vinegar can be used topically, internally, or both. Mix one part ACV and one part Epsom salts with six parts hot water. Let the water cool so that it is still warm to the touch, but not so hot as to be damaging to your skin. Soak feet up to twice daily for at least thirty minutes to kill fungus. Mix two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of warm water and add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten the beverage.
Read more about the amazing benefits of apple cider vinegar here.
2. Olive Leaf Extract
Another excellent choice for taking out toenail fungus is olive leaf extract. Olive leaf extract is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and can help lower cholesterol among other things.
Olive leaf extract is also a powerful detoxifier, so you may experience some discomfort when you first begin taking the supplement. In this case, consider lowering your daily dose while your body sheds the bulk of its stored up toxins. When you begin to feel revitalized, you can increase your intake to the recommended. Ready to try olive leaf extract? This Maximum Strength Olive Leaf Extract is the most popular supplement.
3. Tea Tree Oil
As both an antiseptic and fungicidal remedy, tea tree oil is a great remedy for onychomycosis. First clean areas on and around the infection with rubbing alcohol then apply undiluted 100% pure tea tree oil (such as this Plant Therapy Tea Tree Oil) directly to the affected nails and let it soak in. After about ten minutes, gently scrub the nail with a soft bristle toothbrush. When applying tea tree oil directly to skin, consider mixing the oil one-to-one with an all-natural carrier, like olive or almond oil. Repeat daily until the new healthy nail grows out completely, then continue treatment for two to three more weeks to prevent regrowth.
4. Orange Essential Oil
Orange essential oil is another natural anti-fungal that can be applied daily to toenails in order to cure an infection. Apply a drop of Plant Therapy Orange Oil on nails and between toes. Let the oil soak in for at least one hour. Orange oil may be too strong for people with sensitive skin. If you find this is the case for you, dilute the oil with an all-natural carrier such as olive oil. Also, because citrus allergies are somewhat common, it is recommended to test orange oil on a spot of healthy skin before applying it to infected nails. (Many health and wellness stores have open ‘testers’ of their products for just such a purpose.)
5. Corn Meal
One of the more interesting remedies for toenail fungus is organic cornmeal. Corn naturally hosts a form of fungus that is harmless to the human body but deadly to Candida – the most common fungal parasite that causes infections in people. In a container big enough to fit your foot (or both feet if needed), mix one cup of cornmeal and about two quarts of water. Allow the cornmeal to soak in the water for at least one hour then submerge the infected foot (or feet) in the mixture for a half hour or more. While the frequency of use for this remedy is up for debate, sources have reported success with treatment performed as seldom as once per week. Others say to perform it daily. Because cornmeal is totally harmless to skin and nails, realistically the treatment can be repeated as often as you like.
6. Baking Soda and Borax
Because fungus needs an acidic environment to flourish, alkaline baking soda actually prevents toenail fungus from spreading by creating an uninhabitable environment for it. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that is also a powerful fungicide. These two combined create a remedy that can cure nail fungus fast. Mix equal parts borax powder and baking soda with just enough water to form a paste. Wet feet and gently rub the mixture onto infected nails. Do this twice daily and continue for at least two weeks after fungus appears to have cleared up.
7. Coconut Oil
Caprylic acid, one of the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil, has the ability to penetrate the durable cell wall of candida and other fungi. Without its protective coating the cells of the fungus dissolve, effectively destroying the infection. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to infected areas and let it soak in for at least fifteen minutes. Coconut oil is great for skin health, so there is no limit to how often you can use this treatment. Just make sure you aren’t allergic to coconuts before applying this product to sensitive tissue.
8. Lavender Essential Oil
Anti-fungal properties of lavender oil make it an effective remedy for mild cases of toenail fungus. Apply a few drops of 100% pure lavender essential oil to the infected nails every night and let it soak in while you sleep. To prevent the oil from rubbing off, you can optionally cover your feet with a pair of wool socks. Just be sure not to use socks made of synthetic fibers as this will only worsen the infection. Remember, a nail that looks healthy may still be hiding traces of fungus. It is best to continue topical treatments such as this one for at least a few weeks after the infection appears to be gone.
9. Oregano Oil
Another herb with anti-fungal properties is oregano. Pure oregano oil is rich in a compound called thymol which has been found to be effective against a large number of pathogenic fungi, including Candida and yeast. Mix a few drops of 100% pure oregano oil into a teaspoon of carrier oil and dab onto infected nails.
An imbalance of healthy micro-flora in the body can also be a big cause of fungal overgrowth like onychomycosis. Be sure to partner a good probiotic supplement with your choice of toenail fungus remedy. Thriving, healthy gut bacteria hinder the growth and spread of parasitic fungi and other microbes by limiting their available living space. Also, lactobacillus bacteria found in most probiotic supplements actually secrete a biproduct that is poisonous to Candida. Just make sure that your supplement contains no sugar or artificial fillers that may inadvertently feed the unwanted fungus.
Further Reading: Top 12 Probiotic Foods For Better Gut Health
5 Ways To Prevent Toenail Fungus
While the home remedies above can help you get rid of toenail fungus, prevention is always best. Here are some things you can do to stop this unsightly condition.
Clip your toenails – It is important to clip your toenails in the right way so as to protect yourself from a fungal infection. Be sure that you use properly sanitized clipping tools. Cut your toenails straight across, not on an angle. File any sharp edges.
Select shoes that fit right – Choosing the correct footwear is a must if you want to avoid toenail fungus. Shoes should not touch your toenails at all. Don’t jam your feet into shoes that are too big either – this will cause you to jam your toenail into the front of the shoe causing damage. According to the American Academy of Physicians, the best shoes have a wide toe box.
Choose shoes that breathe – The more air that circulates in and around your feet, the better. Shoes that don’t breathe hold in moisture and create a favorable environment for fungus to grow. Choose high-quality shoes that are made from breathable materials like leather or canvas.
Sanitize – Be sure to clean and sanitize your shower on a regular basis. Also, spray your shoes on a regular basis with an antibacterial spray. Wash and dry your feet daily and be sure that you get them completely dry.
Rotate your shoes – Change your shoes often. Even though you may have that favorite pair that you like to wear all the time, it is better for your feet to switch up your shoes from time to time. Even wearing the same pair of shoes two days in a row can elevate your risk for toenail fungus. Place shoes that you are not wearing in an area where they will get plenty of air.