Toenail fungus—you probably feel a little grossed out just reading those words, right?
No need to feel that way: toenail fungus is a very common condition “…that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge.” (Source)
It’s contagious and people often contract it from shared bathing facilities (the shower at your gym?) or contaminated pedicure equipment at your local salon. Unless it’s painful, toenail fungus doesn’t require treatment. That said, it is a tad unsightly, particularly for open toe sandal season, so we’ve found some at home remedies for this growing issue that work!
Toenail Fungus Home Remedies
A study mentioned by the Mayo Clinic suggests that 56% of a group of 18 patients had results in dealing with mild toenail fungus by applying Vicks VapoRub. If you want to try it, just apply a small amount of the product with a cotton swab, on the affected areas. At least your toes won’t feel the effect of sniffles, either!
While it sounds like it should come with a warning label, snakeroot extract actually comes from plants in the sunflower family. In a study of 110 people, snakeroot extract was found to be about as effective as ciclopirox, which is the compound in many antifungal creams you can buy over the counter at the drugstore (under the brand name Actavis).
Applying thyme oil or tea tree oil (10% concentration or higher) twice daily to the affected area, after it has been thoroughly cleaned, has helped many people with mild toenail fungus. Both products have fungicidal properties that can help kill the bacteria causing the fungus. It’s best not to put these oils directly on your skin, but rather to dilute them by mixing them in equal parts with olive oil before applying to your nails.
Another essential oil that has antifungal properties is orange oil. The key to all of these remedies is to continue the treatment up to 2 or 3 weeks after the fungus has disappeared, to be sure it doesn’t come right back.
The alkaline qualities of baking soda and fungus do NOT get along. Combine the soda with sodium borate (what you and I know as Borax), which has antifungal properties, in equal parts. Then add water to make a paste and apply this to the affected area twice a day for up to two weeks after the fungus is gone.
Apple Cider Vinegar
When it comes to toenail fungus, pH plays a big factor. Fungus needs an alkaline environment to thrive on your skin and nails. Apple cider vinegar is acidic, which makes your nails inhospitable for fungus. Plus, it’s gentle enough to not damage surrounding skin tissue. Try this apple cider vinegar and Epsom salt soak to help blast toenail fungus naturally.
Start by mixing 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/3 cup Epsom salt and 2 cups hot water. Stir the solution well and soak affected toes for about 30 minutes. Use this time to meditate or read for maximum relaxation. Repeat the process twice daily for best results.
This is an interesting option because it doesn’t work the way some of the other antifungal treatments do. Coconut oil contains fatty acids. Those acids, when they come into contact with the fairly fragile but totally essential outer membrane of a fungal cell, break it down and eventually destroy it. It’s like a backdoor method to dealing with the problem: if you can’t break down the front door, see if there’s a way to sneak in the back. You just need to rub a thin layer onto and around the affected nails, two or three times a day.
Affected nails should be clipped short, with the cuticles pushed back, so that any treatment that you use gets to the root of things, literally.
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Fungus grows in hot, damp environments so while you are treating yourself, make sure your feet stay dry. Clean socks will be your new best friend. When the fungus subsides and if the weather warrants it, open toe shoes or flip flops will also allow air to circulate around your toes, keeping them cool and dry.
Like all things, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, so keep those tootsies dry and clean to avoid toenail fungus