When my husband was suffering from toenail fungus, we set out to find a cure. We were particularly interested in natural treatments.
When my husband was suffering from toenail fungus, we set out to find a remedy—preferably a natural treatment to get rid of this unsightly condition. There are tons of prescription drugs available, but with all the side effects they can cause, we didn't want to risk it.
In medical jargon, toenail fungal infection is called onychomycosis; that's pronounced on-i-ko-mi-co-sis. It is a condition in which one or more of the toenails are either thickened, brittle, crumbly or ragged, distorted in shape, dull-hued with no luster or shine, usually a darker color, caused by debris building up under your nail.
Infected nails may also separate from the nail bed—a condition called onycholysis—which very often causes pain in around the toe area. To top it all off, there's usually a slightly nasty odour.
The sad part is that about 15-20% of the planet's population suffers from toenail fungus. After some research, I discovered that there are quite a few natural remedies, some of them involving items that you may already have in your home.
How We Resolved Toenail Fungus
I don't have any photos of my husband's toenail condition, which was mainly his big toenails, but it wasn't a pretty sight. We didn't want to use prescribed medications, so we tried different methods, described below.
- We soaked and washed the feet in two separate bowls, one for each foot, twice a day. We put a handful of salt into the warm water and cleaned around each nail removing fungus debris on a daily basis.
- After drying the feet thoroughly, we applied tea tree oil to each nail, both under the nail with cotton ear buds and around the upper surface of the toenail. It did sting a bit at first but this quickly passed. We did this on a daily basis. Tea tree oil can be bought the world over and it's safe to use.
- We walk quite a lot, so during the summer, he used open shoes to walk or bike in, to avoid sweating. Naturally, he wore no socks. Just a sprinkle of Dr. Scholl's spray to help keep the feet extra dry.
This went on for 17 days—every day. Soaking and washing the feet in warm water with salt added and cleaning the toenails of the fungus debris. Drying off and then dabbing tea tree oil to each nail.
After doing this routine every day, the fungus was completely gone. His toenails were healed and began to look healthy. Now we do the same routine once a week to avoid another episode.
Tips to Help Avoid Toenail Fungus
Our feet are generally taken for granted, as we don't take near enough care of them, especially when they are carrying us around all our lives.
Some quick tips on how to take care of your feet a little better and avoid toenail fungus:
- Toenails should be kept clean and dry, where fresh air can circulate around them.
- During the winter months when socks are necessary to keep out the cold, take them off as soon as you can, as the fungus thrives on warm, damp, sweaty feet. Have clean socks with you always, so that you can change when necessary.
- Shoes that are tied too tightly or worn for a long time can cause your feet to perspire and build fungus. Wear open footwear as much as possible.
- Avoid using other people's nail cutters, nail files, and other tools as these items can transfer the fungus from one foot to another.
- It's often said that trauma can be one of the causes of getting fungus. For example, an injury could allow the bacteria to get into your body.
- Often people with low immune systems have a greater chance of contracting this condition. Individuals with problems in their circulatory system, diabetics, the elderly, and those who have HIV are all prone to side effects of prescription drugs for toenail fungus.
- There are mild and aggressive kinds of medications. The fungus can be treated in the traditional way, self-treated, or it can be doctor prescribed.
- Some medicines can cause side effects, especially in people who are suffering from liver diseases. Another side effect is that certain medications can cause allergies because of their high toxin content.
Natural treatment for toenail fungus is a long-term treatment, where awareness in preventing it can minimize its risk to preserve healthy toenails. In three months, while your toenails grow, the remedy applied prevents the fungi from growing again, bringing back the healthy nail.
According to some sources, resolving toenail fungus has a success rate of 60–80% without any assurances that it will not occur again. In fact, there is a 15% chance that it will reoccur. Treat toenail fungus as early as you can to stop it spreading.
Avoid Covering Up Toenail Fungus
Give up nail polish and artificial nails. Although it may be tempting to hide fungal infections under a coat of pretty pink polish, this can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the infection.
Nail Fungus Prevention
To help prevent nail fungus (both toenails and fingernails) and reduce reoccurring infections, practice good hand and foot hygiene by following these steps:
- Keep your nails short, dry and clean. Trim nails straight across and file down thickened areas.
- Thoroughly dry your hands and feet, including between your toes, after bathing.
- Wear appropriate socks. Synthetic socks that soak up moisture may keep your feet dryer than cotton or woolen socks. Change them often, especially if your feet sweat excessively. Take your shoes off occasionally during the day and after exercise. Alternate closed-toe shoes with open-toed shoes.
- Use an antifungal spray or powder (Dr. Scholl's is good). Spray or sprinkle your feet and the insides of your shoes.
- Wear rubber gloves. This protects your hands from overexposure to water and when dealing with toenail fungus this will protect your hands. Between uses, clean the gloves thoroughly and hang them out to dry.
- Don't trim or pick at the skin around your nails. This may give germs yet another access to your skin and nails.
- Don't go barefoot in public places. Wear shoes around public pools, showers, and locker rooms.
- Choose a reputable manicure and pedicure salon. Make sure the salon sterilizes its instruments. Or if permitted take your own with you.
- Wash your hands after touching an infected nail. Nail fungus can spread from nail to nail.
Fungal Infections and Other Complications
Toenail fungal infections can be very painful and can very easily cause permanent damage. They may also lead to other serious infections that can spread beyond your feet if your immune system is low due to conditions such as diabetes or other illnesses.
Fungal infections pose the most serious health risk for people with diabetes and for those with weakened immune systems, i.e. leukemia or those who have had an organ transplant. In diabetes patients, the blood circulation and nerve supply to the feet can become severely impaired.
Therefore, any relatively minor injury to your feet no matter how small you may think it is—including a toenail fungus—can lead to more serious complications, requiring proper medical care.
- Onychomycosis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedias in depth wiki on both toenail and fingernail fungus. Well worth reading.
- Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a known antifungal agent and for us has worked well with my husbands toenail fungus. Read more about tea tree oil and its origin at Wikipedia.
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.
Leave Us A Comment Or Just Say Hello!
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on March 26, 2018:
I'd just like to thank everyone for their kind comments. Alternate and safe ways to help cure toenail fungus can be found I'm sure. Tea Tree oil has very definitely helped us, so much so - we don't have it anymore. We also use Tea Tree oil soap to help heal hand cuts and so on. Remember to use the oil sparingly, as it can cause nail discoloration (which does go away after a time) and can take away skin around the nail, which does grow again, but doesn't look nice. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.
Joy on August 12, 2017:
I use tea tree oil I have my big toenail with fungus for a while the nail leave the skin I try not to wet it hoping it gets better
Evie Dawson on June 04, 2014:
To prevent skin fungal infections .. nothing works better than a tea tree oil soap.. Thanks for sharing
FlourishAnyway from USA on November 07, 2013:
It sure is an unsightly and uncomfortable problem, but your hub provides excellent advice. My husband has terrible toenail fungus from wearing soggy work boots and running shoes (he's a marathoner). Unfortunately, he has shared it and I've been working on getting rid of it for awhile. I find that it is so important not to share tools.
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on October 30, 2013:
Thanks for your comment FancyFeet1. Best wishes -- Lucy
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on June 30, 2013:
Thanks for your comment. It does help, so I hope it does for your son too. Take care -- Lucy
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on June 30, 2013:
Listerine - of course, what a good idea. Thanks for sharing. Take care -- Lucy
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on June 30, 2013:
Yucky is the word :-) Hopefully it will help you.
FlourishAnyway from USA on June 28, 2013:
Useful information for a very distracting and yucky looking condition that doesn't mix well with summer.
Carly Sullens from St. Louis, Missouri on June 28, 2013:
Great informative hub! I love tea tree oil and have used it on toenail fungus and it works. Also I have used Listerine, soaking my toes in a bowl of Listerine and that helps too. Just don't use the color Listerine because the dye will dye your foot blue.
Tea tree oil and Listerine can dry out the nails and feet, so I follow up with a lotion or Vasiline.
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 28, 2013:
Thanks for sharing this wonderful sure. My son has fungus of the thumbnail so I'm going to try this out as well.
Voted up, useful and interesting. Shared.
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on June 26, 2013:
Thanks KoffeeKlatch Gals. It certainly works - time and again. Take care -- Lucy
Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on June 24, 2013:
What great information. We will definitely be trying this. Up and awesome.
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on May 23, 2013:
Pearl, lovely to hear from you and good luck with the toenails. Perseverance and tea tree oil will do the trick. Have a wonderful day and thank you for your comments. --- Lucy.
Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on May 21, 2013:
This is great! We are all about healthy natural remedies, and this is a super idea for curing my husband's toenail fungus. Thanks so much for sharing this. I have told him about it, and he will start this regimen tonight. Voted Up, useful and interesting, also pinned ;) Pearl
Yvonne Spence from UK on December 22, 2012:
This is useful information for me as one of my kids has a mild version of this that doesn't clear up. We have applied teatree oil, but not as diligently as you so I will try your method. Thanks for the info.
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on December 05, 2012:
Yes and it works, which is unusual :) But it hasn't returned and lets face it - it is an ugly topic, but somebody has to write about it :) Thanks so much for stopping by and giving your comment. Take care --- Lucy
Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on December 04, 2012:
This is a rather "ugly" subject, isn't it. However, hubby has a terrible time with toe nail fungus and we have found nothing to get rid of it and keep it gone. I am definitely going to try your remedy. This is a very good and informative hub! Voting up and useful! :)
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on October 29, 2012:
We sympathize, but can say that the oil does work well, where everything else we've tried really only helps for a short time - days rather than weeks. Hopefully if you decide to try it, it'll help you too. Take care.
Anne from Spain on October 28, 2012:
Hi Starbright. I will give your method a go if I get this infection again. Living in Spain and spending so much time in and out of the swimming pool caused me to get this infection, and it is so hard to clear up once you have it, even with prescription lotion it took months and I´m not sure it´s gone away altogether.
Laser Nail Therapy on August 11, 2012:
The best way to get rid of your nail fungus is with the most up to date treatment using the PinPointe Laser which is essentially the best laser out there. I currently work for a company called Laser Nail Therapy Clinic with excellent podiatrists at 5 of our locations across California. We offer free consultations and only take one hour for the treatment to be done. Our offices are open 7 days/week from 9am- 9pm. Call us toll free at 1800.672.0625 or visit our website at Lasernailtherapyclinic.com
Lucy Jones (author) from Scandinavia on November 05, 2011:
Thanks everyone for your useful comments. Uggs - nothing like them. Great Gran:)
toenail fungus on August 13, 2009:
Hay! starbright. You have completed such a nice work in your content. It will sure helpful for people. you have entered very informative subject in your article.
dls in east Texas on June 03, 2009:
I developed a toenail fungus for several reasons: wearing nail polish for weeks, and wearing it also for more than a week without removing it and checking. Also, in the winter after my evening shower, slathering on foot cream and wearing socks to bed to keep my feet warm and the cream to soften. This combination kept my feet and nails hot and damp without any chance to dry out. A big no-no. And also, just plain not paying attention and keeping underneath of nails clean and "scraped". I now use a disinfected tool to scrape down the underneath of the nail. To resolve: my ugly nails took several months to cure. Have patience. Keep feet clean and dry and expose to air when you can and not gross people out. During the day I did use nailpolish if I needed to wear sandals (summer time) but then took it off immediately when I got home. Soak nails in regular cider vinegar that you buy at the store. About 15 minutes a day, usually when I was watching tv. Then at night before bed, I would take little slivers of a cotton ball and dunk in fresh cider vinegar and use an orange stick to stuff under the whole nail tip. Do not wear socks! Remove in the morning. This keeps the vinegar focused on the infection for several hours.
feedtherightwolf on April 24, 2009:
Thanks for sharing your success story :)
christa on April 05, 2009:
Thank you. My mom is 84 years old. She is retired university professor. She insists on living alone, and is very independent. She started wearing Uggs, without socks, last winter. She had an asthma attack, called 911, and ended up intubated. She has been getting "pedicures" for years. While she was in the ICU, in her little coma, I checked out her checkbook, refrigerator, toenails, & etc. I balanced her bank accts, cleaned out her fridge, and discovered that the nail polish covered up her crappy little toes. The Uggs may be warm, but they are little fungus factories. The nurses got a Pod in there, who cleaned up her feet, and she's been peaved at me, but with her liver problems, they won't give her a script. SO, your tips are very welcome. I am going to the dollar store for a dozen brushes, and the wholefoods for our TTO and vinegar, and she's going to be tied to a chair for 1/2 hour every day for 18 days! thanks-thanks-thanks. Bamboo and cotton sox, and birks-no-uggs, for my glam girl.
lisa on March 26, 2009:
very useful information.