Many people have suffered from fungal nail infection. Besides medical treatments, there are also many effective natural remedies. Natural treatment choices for nail fungus are numerous and range from home remedies to dietary changes and supplements. A number of natural remedies effectively treat fungal infections and act as safe fungicides, for both internal and external treatment of the body.
Nail fungus and how to treat it naturally with home remedies
- What Is Nail Fungus?
- What are the symptoms of nail fungus?
- What are the causes of nail fungus?
- Who may suffer from nail fungus?
- How to treat nail fungus with the natural remedies?
- Prevention tips for nail fungus
What Is Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus, can be fingernail or toenail fungus, formally onychomycosis, is a very common fungal infection that afflicts the dark, moist environment of the feet or fingers and can be picked up just about anywhere (fingernail fungus is possible as well and can be treated in the same way, but occurs less often).
What are the symptoms of nail fungus?
Due to the Mayo Clinic, you may have nail fungus also called onychomycosis if one or more of your nails are:
- Brittle, crumbly or ragged
- Dull, with no shine
- Distorted in shape
- A dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
- Infected nails also may separate from the nail bed, a condition called onycholysis. You may feel pain in your toes or fingertips and detect a slightly foul odor.
Symptoms of a toenail fungus infection are generally limited to the nail itself and begin with a white or yellow patch beneath a nail’s tip. This will worsen until the affected nail thickens and/or becomes brittle if left untreated. Other symptoms include changes in nail color and shape; eventually nails will split or even separate from the nail bed.
What are the causes of nail fungus?
Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a dermatophyte fungus. Yeasts and molds also can be responsible for nail fungal infections.
Who may suffer from nail fungus?
Though, there are many risk factors for nail fungus. Factors that can increase your risk of developing nail fungus include:
- Being older, owing to reduced blood flow, more years of exposure to fungi and slower growing nails
- Perspiring heavily
- Being male, especially if you have a family history of nail fungal infections
- Working in a humid or moist environment or in a job where your hands are often wet, such as bar-tending or housekeeping
- Wearing socks and shoes that hinder ventilation and don’t absorb perspiration
- Living with someone who has nail fungus
- Walking barefoot in damp communal areas, such as swimming pools, gyms, and shower rooms
- Having athlete’s foot
- Having a minor skin or nail injury or a skin condition, such as psoriasis
- Having diabetes, circulation problems, a weakened immune system or, in children, Down syndrome
How to treat nail fungus with the natural remedies?
Fingernail or toenail fungus is a very common problem and if it left untreated then it can cause splitting, cracking and completely loss of a toenail. But it is curable natural home remedies are really effective. Some fruits or plants are helpful as they are mildly acidic and help to prevent fungus. Some oils also helpful as they have the antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic properties.
1. Apple cider vinegar
It’s all about pH. Fungus needs an alkaline environment in order to thrive. The fungal nail infection causes the pH of the nail and surrounding skin to become more alkaline. Apple cider vinegar is a great all-around health tonic. Organic apple cider vinegar is an effective alkalizing agent, making bodily pH less acidic, as well as being a potent antimicrobial and antiseptic. The apple cider vinegar is acidic, making it more and more difficult for the fungus to survive. Surrounding skin and the nail will not be damaged by the vinegar. If you’ve been trying to get rid of your fingernail or toenail fungus for a while, trying this treatment and then that one, you’re not alone – 5% of all people have nail fungus. Commercial nail fungus treatments are harsh and often don’t work. The older people get, the more likely they are to have this problem – over half of all those over 70 are afflicted with fingernail or toenail fungus. Apple cider vinegar is the most effective way to get rid of toenail fungus, according to Earth Clinic posters. It is very easy to prepare: Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water. Soak your fingernail or toenail in this solution for about 30 minutes per day. When it’s done, dry your nail thoroughly. When you used daily for a few weeks, you will notice the improvement very fast. Another option is make an anti-fungal exfoliating scrub by some coarsely ground rice flour with a few spoons of apple cider vinegar. Apply this paste on and around the affected nail and gently scrub the area. Do this a few times a week. This remedy will also help get rid of dead skin cells and keep your skin soft. You will see the result.
2. Coconut oil
If you were thinking that coconut oil could potentially be effective way for treating nail fungus, then you would be right. Coconut oil possesses a number of unique properties and characteristics that make it an effective health remedy. We have also recently discovered, though, that it is somewhat of a miracle cure for nail fungus as well. If you are suffering from unsightly nail fungus, give this remedy a try. How coconut oil works: Coconut oil is an effective health remedy used to treat an array of conditions. The treatment has known antibacterial as well as anti fungal properties. The anti fungal acids found in coconut oil are what make it so effective for treating nail fungus and infections. Plus, the oil naturally moisturizes the skin and replenishes a number of vital nutrients. How to use coconut oil: Treating your nails with coconut oil is quite easy and simple. Cleanse the affected area and pat dry. Apply the oil to the fingers or toes and massage into the nail, nail bed, and surrounding skin. Repeat this process twice a day until the fungus has dissipated. While it may seem unbelievable that such a modest treatment can eliminate such a progressive condition, it really is that simple. Try it for yourself and let us know how quickly it cures your nail condition.
3. Baking Soda
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda has a wide variety of uses. It can be used as deodorant, cleaning agents, toothpaste, treating acne or even biopesticisde…etc. Baking soda is a readily available staple in most kitchens that can also be used to cure nail fungus. It will also help neutralize foot odor. In addition, it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which help combat infection and reduce redness and swelling very well. How to use baking soda: Add one-half cup of baking soda, one-fourth cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and one-half cup of Epsom salt to four cups of hot water. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, and then add one-fourth cup of white vinegar to it.Soak the affected toenail in this solution for about 10 minutes.Wash with clean water and dry your foot thoroughly. Repeat the process twice daily for several weeks to see the best result.
4. Garlic for nail fungus
Garlic contains compounds like allicin and ajoene which have anti fungal properties that can help treat nail fungus. How to use garlic: Mix garlic oil with an equal amount of white vinegar. Apply this mixture on and around the infected toenail and cover the treated toe with a bandage. Leave it on for a few hours before removing the bandage. Repeat daily until the infection clears. (If garlic oil is not available, you can make your own by frying two crushed garlic cloves in two tablespoons of olive oil and then straining the oil).You can also eat one or two crushed garlic cloves daily.
5. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice has both antifungal and antiseptic properties to treat the nail fungus effectively. It is also a natural skin whitener, which helps reduce redness. In addition, lemon juice has the anti-bacterial properties that helps prevent from infections and has been used for many years to heal a various type of skin problems. It also contains citric acid that helps to stop the fungus from spreading. How to use it for nail fungus: Apply freshly squeezed lemon juice directly on the infected nail. Let it sit for 10 – 14 minutes and then rinse it off with warm water. Pat it dry and repeat it daily for at least a month. Another option, you can use lemon juice with olive oil: Mix equal parts of fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Massage into the infected nail and its surroundings. Repeat regularly to get the result.
6. Listerine Mouth Wash
Listerine mouthwash kills the bacteria and germs not only in your mouth but also in the infected nail due to its antiseptic properties. It contains eucalyptus oil and thymol, like Vicks VapoRub does. However, it also contains up to 40% alcohol, which will make it very painful if you have any cuts or cracked/broken skin. How to use: Fill a small tub with Listerine mouth wash. Add vinegar and undiluted lemon juice. Stir it well and soak your fungus affected nail in it for about 10 – 15 minutes. Then scrub the infected nail gently and dry it completely. Repeat daily until the old affected nail grows out.
7. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has become a staple in the cabinets of people worldwide because of its value as a home remedy for many ailments, including fungus infections. In Australia, tea tree oil has been used by the native people for thousands of years because of its many beneficial properties. Extracted through steam distillation from the twigs and leaves of the tea tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia), tea tree oil’s properties include fungicide, antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral. First clean areas on and around the infection with rubbing alcohol then apply undiluted 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 the skin, consider mixing the oil one-to-one with an all-natural carrier like olive oil. Repeat daily until the new healthy nail grows out completely, then continue treatment for two to three more weeks to prevent regrowth.
8. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil has several volatile compounds and antiseptic properties that can fight any kind of infection and prevent skin irritation. How to use: Mix five drops each of lavender oil and tea tree oil. Use a cotton ball to apply this solution under the top edge of the affected toenail and surrounding area. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes, rinse it off and dry your toes thoroughly. Repeat two or three times a day.
9. Orange Oil
Orange oil also has anti fungal properties, and thus can be used to treat infected toenails. Orange oil can cause allergic reactions and can have side effects, so it is important to test some orange oil on a small spot of skin before beginning use of this remedy. Use a dropper to apply pure orange oil between your toes and on and under your toenails. If you have sensitive skin then dilute the essential oil with an equal amount of carrier oil, such as grape seed oil. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes. Repeat two or three times daily until you see improvement.
The effectiveness of these natural remedies depends a lot on their proper use and application. Use these remedies for at least one or two months to see positive results. With patience and persistence, you can cure your toenail infection and prevent further complications.
Prevention tips for nail fungus
After your fungal nail infection has been successfully treated, you can prevent the infection from coming back.
- Before bed, thoroughly wash and dry your feet or hands. Then apply a topical antifungal, such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or ciclopirox (Penlac), directly to your skin or nail. Use the topical medicine twice a week for up to 1 year.
- Keep your feet and hands dry. Dry skin and nails are less likely to become infected. Apply powder to your dry feet or hands after you take a shower or bath.
- Wear socks. If they get damp, change them to keep your feet dry.
- Wear sandals or dry roomy shoes made of materials that allow moisture to escape.
- Wear shower sandals or shower shoes when using a public pool or shower. Let them dry between uses.
- Don’t share shoes, socks, nail clippers, or nail files with others.
- Avoid injuring your nail. Cutting nails too short is a common cause of nail injury. If you decide to get artificial nails or have a manicure, go to a salon that uses sterile instruments. Nail manicure and certain nail products can damage the nail or cuticle, making the nail more susceptible to infection.
- If you have diabetes, take special care of your feet to prevent nail infections. And if you smoke, try quitting.
Additional sources: Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Earth clinic.