Nail fungal infections are the most common diseases of the nails. They make up about 50% of nail abnormalities, and around 10% of the adult population in the United States of America suffers from nail fungus infection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24364524.
Fungus is normally present in the body, but when it overgrows, it can become a problem for which you need toenail fungus treatment options.
Both your fingernails and toenails are susceptible to infection. This infection usually appears as discoloration and thickening of the nail, alongside crumbling edges.
Toenail fungus is medically known as onychomycosis, and it is a common fungal infection of the toenail https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88888/.
The most noticeable symptom of the infection is white, brown, or yellow discoloration of one or more toenails. The infection can spread, and cause the nails to thicken and crack.
No matter if it is sandal season or not, you do not want a toenail fungus infection.
Today, we will talk more about toenail fungus treatment you can at your home. Just for info, the traditional treatment usually includes prescription oral antifungals such as Lamisil or Diflucan.
While they are effective, they can come with a range of side effects like upset stomach and dizziness.
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Causes of toenail fungus infection
Before we get to the home remedies for fungal infection, we have to talk about what causes your infection. As mentioned previously, fungi live normally in our body.
These microscopic organisms can cause fungal infection when they overgrow. They do not require sunlight to survive, meaning they can thrive in dark areas.
The most common group of fungi is called dermatophytes, this is where Candida falls as well https://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.39357.558183.94. This group is responsible for most of the toenail fungal infections, but also some molds and yeasts can cause the infection.
Pathogens that cause infection enter the skin through tiny cuts or small separations between the nail and nail bed. When the nails provide a warm and moist environment, the fungi start growing.
And while anyone can get a fungal nail infection, there are a couple of risk factors. For starters, men are more susceptible than women.
Other risk factors include:
- Slow growing nails
- Diminished blood circulation
- Heavy perspiration
- Family history of fungal infections
- Wearing artificial nails
- Humid or moist work environment
- Walking barefoot in damp public places, such as swimming pools and gyms
- Wearing socks and shoes that prevent ventilation
- Having previous injury or infection to the skin or nail
- Wearing tight footwear with crowding of toes
- Exercise that causes repeated minor trauma to the point where the fingertip attaches to the nail
- Diabetes, AIDS, circulation problems, and other problems that cause weakened immune system
What are the symptoms of toenail fungus infection?
When your nails are infected with fungus, you will notice the following symptoms https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/nail-infections.html:
- Thickened nails
- Brittle nails
- Ragged nails
- Distorted nails
- Crumbly nails
- Dull nails
- Discoloration, darker or yellowish in color
You can also notice symptoms like:
- Scaling under the nail, known commonly as hyperkeratosis
- Yellow or white streaking, known as lateral onychomycosis
- Yellow spots at the bottom of the nail, known as proximal onychomycosis
- Infected nails that may separate from the nail bed, known as onycholysis
Nail infections in the toes also emit a foul odor.
How to diagnose?
A doctor will examine debris that is scrapped from underneath the nail in order to diagnose whether you have a toenail fungal infection or not. The doctor will take a couple of tests, including potassium hydroxide (KOH) smear or a fungal culture.
Physicians are often careful and patient when diagnosing fungal infections of the nail, because other health conditions can result in similar results.
With that in mind, if you notice some of the main symptoms of toenail fungus infection, you should start your toenail fungus treatment at home. Here are some of the best remedies to try.
Home remedies for toenail fungus
While this topical ointment is designed for cough suppression, you can use it for toenail fungus as well. The reason is that its active ingredients are eucalyptus oil and camphor.
These two in combination can help with toenail fungus. And even a study in 2011 showed that the positive effects of Vicks are too high to ignore http://www.jabfm.org/content/24/1/69.full. Using it is simple all you have to do is apply a small amount of the ointment to the affected area once per day.
This antifungal extract is made from the plants in the sunflower family. Studies have shown its potency and effectiveness against toenail fungus https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18671197.
You can apply the extract on the affected area every third day for the first month, and then two times per month for the second month. In the third month, apply just once per week.
Tea tree oil
A lot of essential oils have antifungal and antimicrobial properties, but tea tree oil is the most potent among them. There is just no other essential oil that is as potent and as effective https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/.
The oil is rich in antifungal, but also in antiseptic abilities. Use a cotton swab to apply the oil directly on the affected area two times a day. Apply just a small amount.
The active ingredient in oregano oil is thymol, and according to recent studies, this ingredient has antibacterial and antifungal properties http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814616306392.
To treat your infection, just apply oregano oil to the affected area two times per day. Use a cotton swab to do this. If the infection is more severe, you can even combine oregano and tea tree oil together, for an extra potent solution.
Bear in mind, both oregano and tea tree oil can cause irritation and allergic reaction.
Olive leaf extract
A lot of these home remedies for toenail fungus contain active ingredients with antifungal and antimicrobial properties. In olive leaf extract, that ingredient is oleuropein http://www.thepharmajournal.com/archives/2012/vol1issue4/PartA/9.pdf.
Apply the extract directly to the affected area to clear the infection. You can also ingest in capsule form if you want to battle the infection from the inside out.
Take one to three capsules with meals two times per day if you want to go the ingestion way. Make sure to drink plenty of water during the treatment.
Olive oil and sunflower oil are the ozonized oils we have in mind. These two are injected with ozone gas, and a study in 2011 showed that ozone exposure in low concentration and short duration can fight off fungi, yeast, and bacteria https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768949/.
Some studies have even shown that ozonized oils are more effective than some prescription topical antifungal remedies http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1439-0507.2010.01898.x/abstract.
The antifungal activity of vinegar and apple cider vinegar is well proven https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25219289.
The remedy is considered extremely safe, without the risk of any side effects. All you have to do is soak your foot in one part vinegar to two parts warm water solution for 20 minutes per day.
Yes, that mouthwash can also help your feet. Not only will you have perfectly white teeth, Listerine will also make sure you avoid bacterial infection in the feet.
Most of the ingredients in Listerine, including thymol, eucalyptus, and menthol have antibacterial properties. For this remedy, soak your foots in Listerine for 30 minutes per day.
Garlic is a superfood. The reason for that is garlic has some of the most potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties on the food market https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2629014/.
You can treat toenail fungus by placing chopped or crushed garlic to the affected area for 30 minutes per day. This is much less smelly way than treating it from the inside out with garlic capsules and garlic ingestion.
When to see a doctor?
In most cases, the toenail fungus infection is considered nothing more than a cosmetic problem. However, it can cause serious complications in some cases.
For example, patients with diabetes might experience foot ulcers and other foot problems.
When you have a weakened immune system, do not use home remedies for toenail fungus. Instead, contact your physician to make sure you take the appropriate course of action.
The best way to get rid of fungus infections is to prevent them. You can do this with proper hand and foot hygiene.
Here are some tips:
- Keep your nails short, clean, and dry
- Wear synthetic socks, and other socks that breathe
- Use antifungal sprays or powders
- Avoid sharing shoes and socks
- Wear rubber gloves to avoid exposure to water
- Refrain from picking or biting nails
- Reduce the use of artificial nails and nail polish
- Wash your hands after touching infected nails
- Ensure that your manicure or pedicure salon properly sterilizes tools
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