Toenail fungus can be embarrassing, painful and annoying. The medical condition can be a challenge to completely cure for good, but many at-home remedies can successfully help in curbing fungal and bacterial growth for a healthier, more comfortable and more attractive foot. If you’re looking to help treat a mild or recurring form of fungus, here’s a look at some do-it-yourself options for improving the circumstances of your toenails.
Apply Tea Tree Oil on an Afflicted Nail
Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant with antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities that can help your feet get rid of fungus and discomfort.
Using a cotton ball coated with pure tea tree oil, apply the substance to the affected nail like you would when using a nail polish, coating the entire nail and letting the liquid dry naturally afterwards. Applying this kind of treatment is best when you’re not trying to put socks or shoes on right away since you shouldn’t use a towel to pat the area dry.
This is a gentle process and should be done both in the mornings and evenings for two months while the nail grows out. Since applying tea tree oil with a cotton ball is a targeted treatment to the specific site of fungus, this is a great option when you only have one or two nails in need and are concerned by the idea of doing a full foot soak in a harsh mixture. This isolated approach shouldn’t affect your other toes or the rest of the foot.
Paint Grapefruit Seed Extract on the Nail
In the world of alternative medicine, grapefruit seed extract is also known as an antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent so the extract can be successful when used as a toenail fungus treatment. You apply the treatment in the same way you would apply tea tree oil to a nail, using a cotton ball to paint the liquid on and then letting your foot completely dry before you put on a sock or shoe.
Commercially available grapefruit seed extract generally comes with synthetic preservatives. These synthetic compounds might actually further aid the killing of fungal and bacterial matter, but if you’re looking for an all-natural remedy, you may be interested in skipping the grapefruit seed extract option and sticking to the organic tea tree oil. Either way, apply the product in the morning and at night for two months while the nail grows out.
Use a Vinegar Soak for a Whole Foot Bath
Vinegar is a mild acid and was even used anciently to kill bacteria and treat infections. The agent has antimicrobial properties, meaning it can kill currently-existing microorganisms and also prevent the future growth of such unwanted villains. Accordingly, using a vinegar soak can help press the reset button when it comes to your toenails and the skin on your feet.
Using one part vinegar and two parts warm water, soak your feet in the mixture for fifteen to twenty minutes. After the time is up, rinse off your feet well with plain water and be sure to use a clean towel to dry them off. If needed, you can bathe your feet in a vinegar soak daily, but you should reduce the frequency of performing the at-home remedy to two or three times a week if your skin starts to show signs of irritation from the vinegar.
Spread on Coconut Oil as a Cream
Coconut oil comes in the form of a soft solid and can act as a natural fungicide because of the oil’s fat content, which disrupts the fungal membrane and leads to the overall demise of the unwanted matter.
Using freshly washed hands, apply a thin layer of coconut oil onto the infected nail. If you have more than one nail that needs to be treated, make sure to wash your hands in between so you don’t spread anything from one nail to the other. Also be sure to use a utensil to scoop some coconut oil out of the container as opposed to directly inserting a finger into the jar.
This is a natural, gentle remedy that can be used two to three times a day. You should, however, schedule this treatment in when you can let the nail dry on its own. Like with the other methods, don’t cover the nail with a sock or shoe before the nail has had time to dry. When you trap moisture in between your foot and sock, you can cause your toenail fungus problems to worsen.
Eat Garlic Cloves as an Oral Treatment
Because garlic has antifungal properties, you can actually eat one or two raw cloves a day, which may help your whole body’s attempt to get rid of unwanted fungus. This method would have to be continued over time to produce visible results so the experiment may or may not be worth it to you personally.
Helpful Prevention Strategies
In addition to using home remedies to treat toenail fungus, you should implement healthy practices to help prevent recurrences, which include keeping your nails trimmed short, using absorbent socks that wick moisture away from your feet and throwing out old shoes. Obviously, you should keep your feet clean and let them dry completely after taking a shower or bath before putting on socks or shoes; use a fresh pair of socks or hose everyday. When swimming or in other public wet areas, wear waterproof footwear to help minimize the damage on your feet.
Talk With a Medical Professional
Parenthetically, if you’re concerned that you have a case of serious infection, you may be interested in talking with a medical professional about formal treatments before trying some at-home remedies. The toenail branch of the healthcare industry offers antifungal creams to be topically applied, antifungal medications to be orally consumed and nail lacquers to be painted on much like traditional nail polishes. Some prescription and over-the-counter treatments, however, can still be ineffective, come with drastic side effects or take a long period of time before producing desired results. Be sure to work with your doctor to understand what’s best for your particular situation.
If your toenail fungus starts to dramatically worsen, visit a medical professional to discuss the problem. If you have other health conditions that may impact the everyday condition of your feet anyway, such as diabetes, be especially conservative about talking with a doctor early on to make sure the problem doesn’t get out of hand down the road.