Onychomycosis, which is the medical term for toenail fungus, is a prevalent form of fungal infection that affects millions of people all over the world. This condition happens when fungi, typically dermatophytes, candida, or non-dermatophyte molds, infiltrate the nail bed. This results in the affected toenail becoming discolored, thicker, and distorted. Despite the widespread availability of over-the-counter medications and topical treatments for toenail fungus, a significant number of people look for non-traditional treatments that can be performed at home.
These treatments frequently make use of natural components that are well-known for the antifungal properties they possess. They have gained popularity due to the ease with which they can be obtained and the perception that they are effective. In the following section, we will discuss a variety of home treatments that people struggling with toenail fungus can utilize as complementary strategies in their effort to eliminate the condition.
It is essential to emphasize that even though these treatments may be helpful for some people, they are not intended to take the place of the advice and treatment offered by qualified medical professionals. It is always recommended to seek the advice of a healthcare provider to receive a comprehensive evaluation and a specialized treatment plan.
What is a Toenail Fungus?
Onychomycosis, which is more commonly referred to as simply “toenail fungus,” is a common fungal infection that affects the toenails. It is caused by the invasion of the nail bed and the tissue that surrounds it by several different kinds of fungi, including dermatophytes, yeasts (such as Candida), and molds that are not dermatophytes.
These fungi thrive in warm, damp environments like those found inside shoes and socks, making these places an ideal breeding ground for them. After they have gained access, they can reproduce and spread infection. This results in a wide variety of distinctive symptoms, including the following:
- The infected nail will frequently change color, most frequently taking on a yellowish, brownish, or white appearance. Sometimes the nail will turn a dark green or even black as a result of the condition.
- It’s possible for the infected nail to become significantly more robust than usual. This might be uncomfortable, and it certainly makes it more difficult to trim the nail.
- The nail may become brittle, making it more likely that it will break or crumble.
- As the infection continues to spread, the nail may start to take on an abnormal appearance and even change its shape.
- In extreme cases, a condition known as onycholysis, in which the nail becomes detached from the nail bed, may occur.
- Toenail fungus can cause a foul smell in some people in certain circumstances.
Toenail fungus is a condition that is considered to be quite common. It is especially prevalent in older people and those who have certain risk factors, such as compromised immune systems, poor circulation, or a history of nail trauma. Because the fungi that cause the infection are highly contagious, it is also more common in people who frequent public places like swimming pools, locker rooms, or communal showers. This is because the fungi that cause the infection are highly contagious.
Fungus that affects the toenails can be treated with antifungal medications applied topically or taken orally, laser therapy, and in severe cases, surgical removal of the affected nail. Home remedies, which can include a wide variety of natural treatments, can also be taken into consideration as additional methods of treatment; however, they should not be relied on as the primary method of treatment. Consultation with a healthcare professional is necessary for accurate diagnosis and the formulation of the most productive treatment strategy.
What are the Causes of Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, is almost always brought on by the introduction of a variety of fungi into the toenail and the tissue that surrounds it. Because these fungi thrive in warm, damp environments, an ideal breeding ground for them is the area around and on the feet, particularly within shoes and socks.
Toenail infections can be caused by a wide variety of fungi; however, the most common causes are dermatophytes, yeasts like Candida, and molds that are not dermatophytes. Non-dermatophyte molds can also cause toenail infections. The development of toenail fungus is influenced by several factors, including the following:
Warm and Moist Environments
- Conditions that are warm and humid are ideal for the growth of fungi. Because of this, locations such as public swimming pools, communal showers, locker rooms, and areas around hot tubs are at risk of becoming breeding grounds for the fungi that cause toenail infections.
Insufficient Foot Hygiene
- It is important to keep the feet clean and dry at all times, especially after activities that cause sweating, as this can create an environment that is ideal for the growth of fungi.
- Fungi can flourish in environments that are conducive to their growth, such as shoes that are too constricting, have poor air circulation, or are made of materials that do not breathe. This is especially the case if the feet are stifled in shoes for long periods without adequate ventilation.
Nail Trauma or Damage
- Injury to the nail, such as that caused by stubbing, dropping heavy objects on the toes, or repetitive microtrauma (such as that caused by shoes that do not fit properly), can create openings through which fungi can enter and cause infection.
Immune System Deficiency
- Toenail fungus is one of the many types of fungal infections that can affect a person who has a compromised immune system due to medical conditions or the use of certain medications.
- Conditions such as peripheral artery disease, which leads to poor blood flow to the extremities, can compromise the body’s ability to fight off infections, including fungal infections. This can make it more difficult for the body to heal from wounds.
Existing Skin Disorders
- Toenail fungus can be caused by several different conditions, including athlete’s foot (also known as tinea pedis). This is because the fungi that are responsible for athlete’s foot are also capable of infecting the toenails.
Age and Genetics
- Because of factors such as slower nail growth, reduced blood circulation, and a lifetime of potentially harmful exposure, older people typically have a greater risk of developing toenail fungus than younger people do. In addition to this, there is a possibility that some people have a genetic predisposition that makes them more susceptible.
Even though exposure to these factors raises the likelihood of developing toenail fungus, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone who is exposed to them will necessarily end up with an infection. The response of an individual’s immune system or other genetic factors may make them more resistant to fungal infections than other people. To avoid developing toenail fungus or spreading it to other toenails, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible and to practice good foot hygiene.
What Does Toenail Fungus Look Like?
Toenail fungus can cause discoloration, which can manifest as a white, yellow, brown, or even black toenail. This is the most obvious symptom of the condition. There is a possibility that the nail will become thickened, making it more difficult for you to care for the nail on your own. There may be additional signs of infection, such as a putrid odor, brittleness, or even complete separation of the nail from the nail bed.
Unless the infection is particularly severe, a fungal infection of the toenail will not typically cause any discomfort in most people. In some instances, the fungus can spread to the foot and cause problems, particularly in the space between the toes. This condition is known as athlete’s foot.
Effective Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus
Before going out to buy medication or make an appointment with their physician, many individuals with mild toenail fungus would rather experiment with home remedies using items they already have on hand. Experiment with some of the following effective home remedies for fungal infections of the toenails:
- To begin, you will need to get your nails ready for treatment by cutting and filing them once a week. The pressure that is placed on the nails is relieved when they are trimmed, which also makes it easier for antifungal solutions to penetrate the nails. To maintain short and thin nails, use traditional toenail clippers in conjunction with an emery board. After each use, the utensils should be cleaned and disinfected. To effectively treat toenail fungus and protect against its recurrence in the future, it will be necessary to keep the nails trimmed, clean, and dry.
Shoe and Sock Cleaning
- Alternating your footwear and socks consistently can also help prevent the development of unsightly foot fungus. Yeasts and fungi can grow on the fabric of athletic shoes and socks; however, these can both be washed to eliminate the problem. If you want to get rid of bacteria and kill fungus in your shoes and socks, you can help the washing machine do its job by adding either a half cup of baking soda or one cup of vinegar. Some pairs of shoes can be dried in a machine. When cleaning footwear, another option is to dry the shoes in the sun; however, before putting them back on, you should check to make sure that they are completely dry.
- Boots and other types of footwear that cannot be cleaned in a washing machine can be disinfected by wiping them down with a solution of vinegar and water or spraying them with an antifungal spray that is available over the counter. When treating shoes for foot fungus, medicated antifungal powder for shoes is also helpful as a treatment option.
- Fungal growth can be prevented by allowing the feet to breathe by removing shoes and socks whenever it is possible to do so. Wearing shoes that allow air to circulate and socks that are regularly washed and dried will help protect your feet. There are also antimicrobial socks and shoes available, which can be made from bamboo, copper, or specialty fabrics. They have the potential to prevent the growth of yeast and bacteria that you don’t want in your shoes.
- It is possible to prevent the spread of toenail fungus by taking preventative measures, such as keeping your feet clean and dry. Common items found around the house can be used to create a foot bath, which can then be used to soak or wash your feet with warm soapy water. If you suffer from toenail fungus, it may be helpful to give your feet a soak in a homeopathic concoction that is made entirely from natural ingredients.
Put Hydrogen Peroxide to Use
- Toenail fungus is susceptible to being eradicated with the use of hydrogen peroxide. If you have toenail fungus, you can treat it with hydrogen peroxide by applying it to the infected area of your toes or toenails using a cotton swab or a clean cloth. There is also the option of using a foot soak composed of hydrogen peroxide. Soak your feet in a mixture containing four cups of cool water and one-eighth of a cup of hydrogen peroxide (or several capfuls). Do this for ten to twenty minutes. After rinsing the feet with warm water, pat them dry with a towel.
- Toenail or foot fungus can also be treated effectively by soaking one’s feet in plain tea for a few minutes each day. Tannic acid, which is found in black tea, helps to reduce sweating by drying out the feet, killing bacteria on the skin of the feet, and closing the pores of the feet. Bring two quarts of water to a boil, then add five to six tea bags after the water has cooled. After the solution has had time to cool, soak the feet for half an hour. If you want, you can use this foot soak every day.
Feet Drenched in Vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar foot soaks are yet another home remedy that can be utilized in the treatment of toenail fungus. The antifungal properties of vinegar make it an ideal component for a foot soak, which can be made by combining the vinegar with water. The acetic acid that is found in it can lighten discolored toenails and prevent the infection from spreading to other toes.
- Apply a solution of one-part vinegar to two parts warm water and soak your feet for twenty minutes each day. The unpleasantness of the odor can be mitigated by adding a few drops of essential oil to the mixture. This will make the overall experience more satisfying. Since both methods are equally efficient, you can substitute white vinegar for the original.
Olive Leaf Extract
- Olive leaf extract is a natural antifungal and antimicrobial because it contains oleuropein, which is found in olive leaves. Applying a salve made from olive leaves to the toenails has been shown to reduce the risk of infection. Alternatively, you could try taking oral capsules that contain the extract to strengthen your immune system and treat toenail fungus on a systemic level. Before beginning to take olive leaf extract, you should speak with your primary care physician. The dosage varies depending on the formulation.
- To treat the infected toenail, you can try soaking your feet in baking soda. Baking soda can also be combined with a small amount of water to form a paste, which can then be applied directly to the affected foot. After allowing the paste to sit on the affected area for ten to twenty minutes, thoroughly drying the foot and rinsing it with warm water are the next steps.
- Baking soda can also be used in the same way as foot powder by sprinkling it on shoes. Baking soda should then be sprinkled on top, and the shoes should be gently shaken to evenly distribute the powder. After allowing the shoes to sit for at least a day, shake them thoroughly to remove any remaining baking soda.
- Baking soda can also be sprinkled onto the foot as another option. After the medication has been applied to a dry foot, put on a clean pair of socks. Baking soda’s active component, sodium bicarbonate, can absorb moisture and promote healing, making it an effective treatment for fungal infections of the toenails.
- Essential oils are widely used at home as treatments for a wide range of typical ailments. There are naturally occurring antifungal and antibacterial properties in many essential oils. Before applying essential oils directly to the skin, it is important to first dilute them with a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil. The affected nail should have a few drops of the desired oil or combination of oils applied to it, followed by a few drops of the carrier oil of your choice. Footbaths also benefit from having two or three drops of essential oil added to them.
- Ozonated oils, such as olive and sunflower oil, are examples of ozonated oils. Ozonated oils contain ozone gas. The theory behind this treatment is that applying ozone to affected areas will deliver oxygen there, which will then kill bacteria and stimulate skin cells, resulting in a speedier recovery.
- A number of the fungal strains that cause toenail fungus can be treated successfully at home with ozonated oil. Researchers used 101 different samples of yeast to test the effectiveness of ozonized sunflower oil. The treatment with the oil was successful against several different fungal strains.
- To begin using this remedy, first wash and thoroughly dry your foot. A very small amount of ozonated oil should be massaged into the skin in a circular motion, making sure to work it into the affected nails and around the toe.
- Garlic is a plant that has powerful antimicrobial properties. For a topical treatment, chop garlic cloves and leave them on the affected nails for half an hour each day for a week. This treatment should be repeated. Causing a chemical burn on the skin, raw garlic should only be used in moderation.
- Inquire with a pharmacist about the availability of herbal supplements that include garlic. Oral consumption of these dietary supplements not only treats skin infections, but also may be beneficial for patients suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers, and may reduce the likelihood of being bitten by ticks. People who have stomach ulcers, digestive issues, or bleeding disorders shouldn’t take garlic supplements because they could make their symptoms worse. It is also possible that it will reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Before you start taking garlic supplements by mouth, you should consult a healthcare professional.
Looking into different home remedies for fungal infections of the toenails can provide individuals with an additional method that is frequently easy to access for the management of this common condition that can be potentially bothersome. It is essential to keep in mind that the use of these home remedies is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice or treatments that have been prescribed by a physician.
It is essential to seek the advice of a healthcare provider to receive a comprehensive assessment and a specialized treatment plan. Toenail fungus can be a recurrent condition; therefore, when treating it at home with natural remedies, it is important to be consistent, and patient, and maintain good hygiene practices. Individuals can take preventative measures toward alleviating the discomfort and aesthetic concerns associated with toenail fungus when they combine the aforementioned methods with the guidance of a professional.