How to Get Rid of a Fungal Nail Infection Using Tea Tree Oil

Updated on February 9, 2018
Susan Hambidge profile image

Susan prefers to use natural ingredients whenever possible. It is usually cheaper, easier and greener.

What Does Fungal Nail Infection Look Like?

Why is my toenail yellow, thick, crumbly and ugly? Why are the nails on my toes white, dark brown and wavy? With symptoms like these it is most likely a fungal nail infection. It can affect just one of your toes or all your toes can show the symptoms. Usually the big toe is infected first, and it may spread to other toes.

There are a number of treatments available over the counter, but many of them are quite expensive and sometimes a bit tricky to apply. Tea tree oil, however, is a less pricey option and using it is straightforward and easy. It is a great alternative therapy that really works.

What is Nail Fungus?

The medical name for fungal nail infection is Onychomycosis. The infection is caused by the dermatophyte fungi which also causes athlete's foot, so it is very common to suffer from both these conditions at the same time. This fungi likes places that are warm, dark and moist so the inside of sweaty shoes and socks is the perfect environment for it to thrive. The fungi gets into and behind the nail and multiplies happily.

People with athlete’s foot, weakened immune systems or diabetes are more likely to have this condition but it is possible for nearly everyone to suffer with it at one time or another.

It isn't usually painful, but the nail looks unattractive and will often grow oddly if left untreated which could lead to discomfort when wearing shoes. The nail may also come off entirely, and it is possible to have it spread to the fingernails too.

The longer it is left untreated, the longer it will take to get rid of, so be patient.

How to use Tea Tree Oil to Cure Nail Fungus

  1. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic, anti fungal and disinfectant. It is always worth having one of these small bottles handy at home and when out and about. I have one with me when I go travelling a because it is small, light and treats a huge range of things. Begin treatment by soaking your feet in warm water which contains five or six drops of tea tree oil. This will help cleanse your feet and will start treating athlete’s foot at the same time. A long soak will make sure the tea tree oil gets deep into and behind the nails.
  2. Dry your feet well, then add a few drops of tea tree oil directly onto the infected nails. Adults’ feet are usually tough enough to take this oil neat, but if using tea tree oil on other parts of the body it is advised to dilute it in coconut oil or a lotion. Quickly rub the oil into the nail and surrounding skin. Take a cotton bud soaked in tea tree oil and work behind and underneath the nails as much as possible as well to really get it working on the fungus.
  3. Leave the oil to soak in, there is no need to wipe away. This is a simple treatment that requires little fuss.
  4. This will need to be done twice a day for at least two months. Make it part of your daily routine. You carry out the soaking in warm water part less frequently if this is difficult, but quickly rub tea tree oil into the toes morning and night, it takes just a few seconds.

The fungus will be destroyed fairly quickly, but can be reintroduced via shoes, floors, sheets and towels so keep up the regime to make sure the infection goes once and for all. The damaged nail needs to grow out with healthy nail following, so trim nails regularly and dispose of the clipping properly.

Unfortunately it may take as long as a year for the damage to grow out completely, but the oil makes the nail less brittle, and as the infection is removed through regular nail trims, the overall appearance is improved week after week.

Preventing Fungal Nail Infection

If you wear sneakers regularly and have hot feet you may find the fungal nail infections recurring. Once you have got rid of a fungal nail infection, keep checking your feet for signs of it returning. Treating it quickly will help. Remember that the fungus likes it to be warm, dark and moist so try to keep your feet dry, cool and aired regularly to keep this condition at bay. Wear cotton socks, change them twice a day and wash them in hot water. Steam clean trainers which kills the fungi and really helps stop the footwear becoming smelly as well - but be very careful not to burn yourself in the process. You can also spray sneakers with anti fungal treatment or wash in the washing machine if the washing instructions allow it.

Even with healthy feet it isn't a bad idea to massage some tea tree oil in once a week to keep fungi and bacteria forming. Try this after a shower or soak in the bath every seven days.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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    • Susan Hambidge profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hambidge 

      4 years ago from Kent, England

      Thank you for stopping by - I am glad to hear you're 'stepping' in the right direction now with your condition! And you're welcome!

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      4 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Thank you for a really straightforward and helpful hub.

      I managed to catch this nasty condition years ago and no matter what ointment and internally taken medicine, (all prescribed by the doctor) it never cleared up properly.But at last (Yes, I know, I said "never cleared up") I am on the road to recovery.

      Should I say I have my foot on the road to recovery, or is that a bit less than punny?

      I tried everything. Would you believe it that even Vicksvick Vaporub Ointment is used by many. I will definitely use your Tea Tree Oil suggestion if it dares to attack me again.

      BTW, Thanks for your kind words concerning my hub about Broadstairs.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Anyone who reads this will be itch thei feet and examine their toes for off color and brittle nails. Wow.

    • Susan Hambidge profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Hambidge 

      4 years ago from Kent, England

      Thank you Babbyii - I use Tea Tree oil for many things for me, my family and my dog with great results.

    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 

      4 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Your article is a good resource for an all too common problem of fungus. Thanks for introducing Tea Tree as a better alternative Susan!


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