Home Treatments for Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection that affects the nails of the toes. It can cause thickening and discoloration of the toenails, foul odor, and pain in severe cases. While it is more common in older adults and those with diabetes or a weakened immune system, anyone can get toenail fungus. This article will discuss the symptoms of toenail fungus and some effective home remedies for treating and preventing it.
What is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes, which thrive in warm and moist environments. This fungus can enter the nails through small cuts or breaks in the skin and then spread to other nails. Once the fungus is inside the nails, getting rid of it cannot be easy.
Symptoms of Toenail Fungus
The symptoms of toenail fungus can include thickening and discoloration of the nails, foul odor, and pain. In severe cases, the nails can become brittle and may even fall off. It’s important to note that toenail fungus often starts with a white or yellow spot under the tip of the toenail and can spread with time, so it is important to catch it as early as possible.
While toenail fungus can be difficult to get rid of once it has taken hold, there are some steps you can take to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Proper Foot Hygiene
Keeping your feet clean and dry is one of the most important things you can do to prevent toenail fungus. This means washing your feet every day and drying them thoroughly, especially between the toes. Additionally, you should avoid going barefoot in public places like locker rooms, swimming pools, and showers.
Wearing Breathable Shoes and Socks
Wearing shoes that allow your feet to breathe can help prevent toenail fungus. This means wearing shoes made of natural materials like leather or canvas and avoiding synthetic materials like plastic and rubber. Additionally, wearing clean and dry socks made of breathable materials is important.
Avoiding Damp Environments
Fungus thrives in damp environments, so it is important to avoid places that are likely to be damp, such as swimming pools, showers, and locker rooms. Additionally, it is important to keep your feet dry, so avoid wearing wet shoes or socks for long periods.
While a podiatrist or other medical professional can prescribe antifungal medication to treat toenail fungus, several home remedies can help. Here are a few of the most effective home remedies for treating toenail fungus.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a popular home remedy for toenail fungus because of its antifungal properties. To use this remedy, you must dilute the tea tree oil with a carrier oil like sunflower. Then, you can apply the mixture directly to the infected nail and surrounding skin. Repeat this process twice a day until the fungus is gone.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is another popular home remedy for toenail fungus. The vinegar's acidity can help kill the fungus and prevent it from spreading. To use this remedy, mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and soak the affected nails for 15-20 minutes. Repeat this process twice a day until the fungus is gone. You can also add a few drops of essential oils like tea tree oil or oregano oil to the mixture for added antifungal properties.
Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide can be used together to create a powerful remedy for toenail fungus. Mix equal parts baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to use this remedy to make a paste. Apply the paste to the affected nails and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse the nails with warm water and repeat the process twice a day until the fungus is gone.
Oregano oil is known for its antifungal properties and can be used to treat toenail fungus. Mix a few drops of oregano oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil or sunflower oil and apply it to the infected nails twice a day. Add a few drops of oregano oil to a warm foot bath and soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. Repeat this process until the fungus is gone.
Vicks VapoRub is a popular mentholated ointment that can be used to treat toenail fungus. It contains camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol that have antifungal properties. Apply a small amount of Vicks VapoRub to the affected nails and surrounding skin twice daily. Repeat this process until the fungus is gone.
Trim and File Infected Nails
Trimming and filing infected nails can help to remove some of the fungus and prevent it from spreading. Use a nail clipper or scissors to trim the nails as short as possible, and then file the edges to remove any rough or jagged edges.
Avoid Nail Polish and Artificial Nails
Nail polish and artificial nails can trap moisture and provide an ideal fungus environment. So, it is best to avoid them if you have toenail fungus.
Consult a Doctor if Symptoms Persist
If your toenail fungus does not improve after several weeks of home treatment, it is important to consult a doctor or podiatrist. They can prescribe stronger antifungal medication or offer other treatment options to help get rid of the fungus.
Toenail fungus can be treated at home with a combination of preventative measures and home remedies. However, if symptoms persist, it is important to consult a doctor or podiatrist for further treatment options. Remember to maintain proper foot hygiene, wear breathable shoes and socks, avoid damp environments and trim and file infected nails. Following these tips and using some of the home remedies outlined above can effectively treat and prevent toenail fungus.