How We Resolved Unhealthy Toenail Fungus for Good
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.