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Fact-checked & edited by Dr. Helen Okoye, MD, MBA, MS-Epi
Toenail fungus is one of the most common fungal infections, involving part of or all of the elements that constitute the nail unit (nail plate, bed or matrix). Often times, doctor recommend topical creams and oral medication for the treatment of this fungal infection.
However, topical creams take a long period to work and oral medication causes a number of discomforting side-effects. In such situations, it is only normal to turn to simple home remedies, in order to improve the appearance of the affected toenail(s). These home remedies do not have side-effects and they take a genuinely shorter period of time to act.
White vinegar is an excellent home remedy against toenail fungus, having antimicrobial properties. Moreover, it can be used to restore the healthy pH of the skin. If you want to benefit from its healthy properties, it is recommended to mix it with warm water (one-part white vinegar, two parts water). Then, soak the affected toenails in the resulting mixture for about a quarter of an hour.
When done, rinse your feet off with water and make sure to use a clean towel, drying your toes thoroughly. The white vinegar soak can be repeated once or twice every day, until you notice an improvement at the level of the affected nails. In the situation that the white vinegar irritates the skin, all you have to do is add more water to the mixture or reduce the frequency of applications.
Vinegar has been confirmed as a suitable remedy for toenail fungus in a case study presented by American specialists. The case study presented a patient who suffered from fungal infection, using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to eliminate the pathogens. However, it should be mentioned that these were not used at the same time but rather in alternate days.
Oregano oil is one of the natural remedies that can be easily used in the comfort of your home, presenting antifungal and antiseptic properties. Apart from that, oregano oil can reduce the risk of additional bacterial infections, acting efficiently on the associated pain.
If you are interested in using this home remedy for your toenail fungus, all you have to do is mix several drops of oregano oil with olive oil. Then, use a cotton ball and apply the resulting mixture on the affected toenail(s). Maintain the application for about half an hour and then rinse your toes with water. Dry them off thoroughly, using a clean towel. You can repeat the application once or twice, every day, until the fungus is gone.
According to a study undertaken by doctors in India and published online in The Pharma Journal, natural products are highly recommended for fungal nail disease. One of the remedies presented in this study is oregano oil, well-praised for its efficiency on toenail fungus. Oregano oil is appreciated as well for its antiviral and antibacterial properties, the active substance responsible for such benefits being carvacrol. The same study has confirmed that garlic is a natural solution to toenail fungus, being able to treat even the most resistant forms of infection (as you will have the opportunity to read below).
You might not expect mouthwash to be a suitable remedy against toenail fungus, but the truth is that it is actually effective. Mouthwash presents antimicrobial properties, this being the reason why it is recommended for toenail fungus and other fungal infections. Moreover, it contains alcohol, acting as a powerful disinfectant (antiseptic properties).
It is possible to soak your infected toenails directly in the mouthwash or use it in combination with white vinegar (equal quantities). Keep your toenails in the resulting mixture for about half an hour. You can then take a little bit of time to scrub the respective toenail, without being too aggressive. When done, rinse your toenails off with water and dry them thoroughly. You can repeat the application once or twice per day, until the fungal infection clears.
Garlic is often recommended for its healthy properties, helping us keep germs and other nasty pathogens away. Doctors recommend garlic as a home remedy against toenail fungus; the active substances contained in garlic actually have antifungal properties, especially allicin, sulphur and ajoene.
The best results are obtained when garlic oil is mixed with white vinegar, in equal quantities. Once you have mixed them thoroughly, all you have to do is apply the resulting mixture on the infected toenail(s). In order for this remedy to work its magic, it is recommended to cover the respective nails with a clean cloth or bandage. Maintain the application for a couple of hours, then remove the cloth/bandage and rinse the nails with water. You can repeat the application on a daily basis, until you notice positive results.
It is a known fact that orange oil has antifungal properties, which makes it a suitable remedy for toenail fungus. However, it is worth mentioning that orange oil can be highly allergenic, which means that you will have to test it before actually using it as a remedy against fungal infections. In order to ensure that no discomforting allergic reactions occur, choose a small spot on the skin and apply orange oil. If no allergic reactions occur in that area, it means that you can use it with confidence.
Orange oil can be applied to the infected toenails with the help of a dropper. You can also apply it between the toes, as this is an area where fungi generally thrive. If you know that your skin is the sensitive type, all you have to do is mix orange oil with another essential oil. For example, you can choose grapeseed oil, applying the resulting mixture with the dropper as well. The application has to be maintained for about half an hour and it can be repeated two or three times per day, until the fungal infection has completely disappeared.
Coconut oil is often recommended for beautiful skin, as it has moisturizing and nourishing properties. In case of fungal infections, coconut oil can be used as an excellent remedy, given its antifungal properties (less known). You might not be aware of this for a fact but coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, such as caprylic acid. These are known for their antifungal properties, being able to destroy fungal cells and eliminate the infection completely.
If the fungal infection has extended to more than one nail, it is indicated to either wear gloves or wash your hands between applications. Use your fingers to apply the coconut oil on the infected toenails and maintain the application for as long as it is necessary (the coconut oil has to be absorbed into the skin). Only a thin layer is required and the application can be repeated two or three times per day.
As opposed to the other home remedies that were presented above, olive leaf extract has to be taken as an oral supplement, on a daily basis. Apart from having antifungal properties, this natural remedy can keep bacterial infections away and lower the level of bad cholesterol. It is important to understand that, upon taking such supplements, you might experience some discomfort, as it will cause all toxins to be eliminated from your body. If the level of discomfort is too high, it is recommended to reduce the initial dosage (increasing it as you begin to feel all better again).
When it comes to home remedies that can be used to treat fungal infections, cornmeal is definitely one of the least thought-of options. However, it is a true fact that organic cornmeal has highly efficient antifungal properties. In order to benefit from its healthy properties, all you have to do is mix it with water.
Before soaking your feet in the resulting mixture, it is recommended to soak them into water first (for about an hour). Then, spend another half an hour, with the infected toenails soaked in the corneal mixture. When done, rinse off and dry thoroughly. The application can be repeated as often as you feel like it, as there are no side-effects or allergic reactions to worry about.
Speaking about home remedies that you can try for fungal infections, sodium borate is an excellent choice, given its antifungal properties. This remedy works best in combination with baking soda. Fungal infections usually appear in acidic environments, flourishing as the pH of the skin changes. The combination between sodium borate and baking soda can balance the pH of the skin, eliminating the fungal infection.
So, you will have to mix sodium borate with baking soda and water, until you obtain a paste. The resulting paste has to be applied on the infected toenails and maintain for about half an hour or until it dries completely. The application can be repeated two times per day, for a couple of weeks or until the infection clears.
Even though this might sound like a strange thing, it is true that, when the micro-flora is imbalanced, this causes the fungal population to grow and develop. People who suffer from toenail fungus can benefit tremendously from taking probiotics supplements. The one thing that you have to make certain is that the taken supplements do not contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, as these are going to feed the fungus and prolong the presence of the fungal infection.
Even though toenail fungus can be treated with topical and oral medication, it is important to understand and remember that home remedies can be just as efficient (or even more in some cases). Moreover, these can be used in the comfort of one’s home, without having to worry about harmful side-effects or potential allergic reactions. As you have seen, these home solutions rely on natural remedies, such as coconut oil, garlic or white vinegar. They are easy to use and highly effective, providing the desired results within weeks.
Helen is a podiatry student that noticed most solid information on foot health was locked away in books since most practitioners are a bit old school. She aims to bring this body of knowledge on-line in an easy and accessible way, and end the embarrassment associated with seeking help for foot health problems.
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