Having had toenail fungus myself, I can tell you, it can be a nightmare. The ugliness of the whole thing is disconcerting and the stubbornness to go away, even more so. Treatment varies from over the counter topical ointments to prescription oral medications. Even costly laser treatment for toenail fungus is available as a last resort. And yet, it seems to go into remission and then come back. It can be incredibly frustrating and embarrassing. You no longer want to wear your favorite shoes, people wonder why you have red nail polish on “ALL THE TIME” and not to forget having to confront your pedicurist every couple of weeks.
But hey, there is a way to get rid of this monstrosity and we’ve got some great natural remedies for toenail fungus that can help.
Why in the world does fungus LOVE growing on a toenail? The answer is simple, they love moisture! Just like other micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses, fungi are also micro-organisms that thrive in nature and do not need sunlight to grow. They exist in the form of yeasts, molds and mushrooms. Some fungi are edible whereas others can cause life threatening diseases.
It is important to remember that you must keep your feet clean, your nails trimmed and your shoes and socks moisture free to avoid and get rid of toenail fungus. Using our below stated home remedies for toenail fungus regularly will not only treat the active infection but will get rid of it for good.
Types Of Nail Infections
Before we talk about the natural remedies for toenail fungus, you should know the different types of nail infections.
It is a fungal infection of the nails and can be due to:
- Dermatophytes such as Trichophyton rubrum (T rubrum) and T. interdigitale. The infection is also known as tinea unguium and usually spreads from an untreated fungal infection of the hand or feet.
- Yeasts such as Candida albicans.
- Molds especially Scopulariopsis brevicaulis and Fusarium species.
It is a bacterial infection on the nail bed caused by Pseudomonas which turns the nail black or green.
3. Other Nail Disorders
- Eczema or dermatitis
- Lichen Planus
- Viral warts
- Onycholysis – Nail separating from the nail bed, which causes discoloration that is often mistaken for nail fungus. This problem cannot be treated by laser or even topical medication for toenail fungus.
- Onychogryphosis – nail thickening and scaling under the nail, common in the elderly.
Factors Responsible For Nail Fungus
Nail fungus is much more common in toe nails compared to finger nails. Toe nails are more likely to be exposed to dirt, warmth and moisture because of the footwear we use. Tight shoes can also cause decreased blood circulation in your feet which can negatively impact your immune system’s response to the nail fungus. It is also more common in men than women (since men are generally more careless about hygiene).
Fungal nail infections can develop in people with:
- Nail injury or broken nails
- Untreated Athelete’s foot or Tinea Pedis (ring worm infection on the skin in between the toes of the feet) spreading to cause Tinea Unguium
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Weak immune systems
- Older woman due to estrogen deficiency
- Artificial nails (acrylic or wraps) due to water collecting under the nail creating a moist, warm environment favorable for fungal growth
- Wearing shoes that hinder ventilation
- Wearing socks that don’t absorb perspiration
- Walking barefoot in damp places
What Nail Fungus Looks Like?
It is important to be able to differentiate between fungal infections of the nail from other disorders of the nail. Only then will the natural remedies for toenail fungus work.
Healthy nails are strong, often smooth, without discoloration and odor. It is not difficult to assess whether you have toenail fungus or not. However if you see the following symptoms, it is best to start treatment as soon as possible.
- In early stages, the nail loses its shine and starts discoloring changing to yellow
- There may be accumulation of debris under the toenails, also known as toe-jam
- Then begins the thickening and crumbling of the nails
- The shape becomes distorted, the nails appear thick and edges become rigid and flaky as the infection spreads by destroying the cells
- Sometimes you might experience pain at this stage.
- The worst part is when the nail loosens and eventually separates from the nail bed.
Natural Remedies For Toenail Fungus
Many of the natural, toenail fungus home remedies use a combination of products to achieve two goals:
- To kill the fungus
- To protect the nail growth from becoming reinfected
Below is a list of common natural remedies for toenail fungus, that we have found to be both effective and useful. The key to using a home remedy for toenail fungus successfully is to treat nail fungus asap, and use a remedy that can be added to your daily routine easily.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been found to be very effective in killing toenail fungus. Use the following instructions for best results:
- Fill the basin with sufficient apple cider vinegar to be able to submerge at your nails and infected area
- Let your feet soak in the vinegar for twenty minutes
- Remove your feet and wipe your feet completely dry
- Do this everyday and you should observe results quite soon
2. Baking Soda
A mixture of baking soda and apple cider vinegar is an excellent home remedy for toenail fungus as it will not only kill the fungus, but will also stop it from growing and spreading.
- Add one cup of the vinegar in a pot full of water.
- Dip your nails in it for 15 minutes and then dry them well with the paper towel
- After taking out your nails, add 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda to the mixture
- Dip your nails in it again
- Repeat this several times during the day. Two times with and two times without baking soda
3. Vicks Vapo Rub
The active components of Vicks Vapo Rub are thymol, eucalyptus oil and a little bit of camphor. It is believed that the petroleum and turpentine oil in the Vicks Vapor Rub have the ability to transmit the anti-fungal ingredients to the nail bed.
- Soak your feet in a 50-50 mixture of water and vinegar for 20 minutes
- Dab a little Vicks Vapo Rub on a tooth pick and gently rub under and around your nail
- Do this twice a day
4. Coconut Oil
Fatty acids, such as the ones found abundantly in coconut oil, naturally insert themselves in the lipid layer of the fungal membrane and disturb it. This leads to cell disintegration and the ultimate destruction of the fungus.
- Wash your hands and wear gloves between applications
- Rub a thin layer of coconut oil onto the area and let it absorb and dry naturally
- Repeat 2-3 times daily
5. Tea Tree Oil
The primary compound, Terpin-4-ol in tea tree oil is responsible for the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of the oil. Avoid purchasing tea tree oil with 1,8-cineole as the primary listed compound, as this is less effective and more likely to result in adverse reactions to the oil.
- Clean the nail with alcohol using a cotton swab
- Take another cotton ball and apply the tea tree oil on the infected toe nail
- Use this treatment twice a day, preferably in the morning and evening
It is recommended that you continue tea tree oil treatment for six months even if the infection appears to have been cured. All it takes is a single surviving spore for the infection to start all over again. By using tea tree oil regularly, you will kill the infection once and for all.
Cornmeal is a natural fungus fighter and is the main ingredient in mush. A mush foot soak is regarded as one of the finest natural remedies for toenail fungus.
- Put 1 inch layer of whole ground corn meal in a basin
- Pour 10 cups of room temperature water on it
- Do not mix, let it sit for an hour
- Soak your feet in the mixture for 30 mins to an hour.
- Do this twice a day for a month
Also do this to clean your footwear.
- Combine 1 cup of cornmeal with 1 gallon of water.
- Soak your footwear for 30 minutes.
- This will get rid of the fungus that lives and thrives in shoes.
- You need only to soak the shoes in mush once after you begin your first treatment with mush.
Garlic is a natural antifungal and is often the only effective treatment for fungus trapped in hard to reach areas. Fungus under the nail bed being one such area. As far as natural remedies for toenail fungus are concerned, garlic might well be the most potent.
- Take a clove of fresh, raw garlic and cut it diagonally in half
- Grate it against your toenail edge, pushing the pulp underneath if possible
- Push it further with a blunted toothpick. This does not sting or hurt in the least and it coats the nail surface with a resilient lacquer
- Do two applications a week for a total miraculous cure
Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus – Prevention Tips
Toe nail fungus is a chronic condition, which means that it will continue to come back again and again. Even the most powerful drugs from your doctor to help cure nail infections cannot completely guarantee that your nail fungus will stay away.
Topical treatments are effective 30% to 40% of the time. Oral medications are successful only 70% of the time. The success rate of laser treatment for toenail fungus is as high as 88%, but it is a little expensive. That is why it is important to not only look at treating active infections by using natural remedies for toenail fungus, but also taking all the necessary precautions to prevent it from coming back.
The best nail fungus prevention is proper care and hygiene of your feet and hands.
Some preventive home remedies for toenail fungus include:
- Keep your nails trimmed and clean
- Use your own sterilized nail clipper to cut your nails and do not share these personal care tools with others
- Filing down thick areas on your nail can also help prevent fungus
- Keep your feet and hands dry, especially in between fingers and toes after taking a bath
- Use socks of synthetic material, so it can pull moisture away from your feet better than traditional cotton and wool socks. If you prefer the warmth of cotton or wool, wear synthetic socks under them.
- If you’re on your feet all day and your feet tend to perspire quite a bit, it’s important to change your socks as often as possible
- Taking your shoes off a few times a day and letting your feet breathe is a great way to prevent nail fungus
- Use a good antifungal powder or spray on your shoes every day for sweaty feet. It will help kill fungus before it starts to grow and also help your shoes and feet smell a lot better.
- Avoid going bare foot in public places. Bare feet at pools or public showers can lead to fungus on the feet and nails as well as other infections that are caused by a damp environment. This is especially important if you have manicures or pedicures done regularly. The cleanliness of the salon you go to is extremely important as dozens of feet pass through their doors daily.
- Ultimately keep your hands and feet as clean and dry as possible as it is the best home remedy for toenail fungus prevention.
A large number of people who suffer from onychomycosis seek alternative treatments to cure toenail fungus. Many are frustrated with the lack of results from using over the counter treatments. The risk of potentially serious side effects often deters people from using prescribed oral medications for longer periods of time. In order to achieve long term results, a growing number of people are turning to laser treatment for toenail fungus which can be expensive. Using natural remedies for toenail fungus is safe and can be used for months, if need be, without any side effects.
It is important to treat a nail fungal infection as soon as it becomes evident. The longer you wait to address the issue, the harder it will be to get rid of it.
To increase your chances of successfully eliminating the infection completely, you can also use some best products for toenail fungus that have been proven to kill the infection and deliver clean, healthy nails fast.