Toenail fungus (known as onychomycosis in the medical world) is a very unpleasant infection that affects your toenails and is often spread through wet floors, such as the ones you can get in contact with around swimming pools.
This fungal infection is characterized by a discoloration of a toenail (or several). The toenail turns yellow or brown (less often white) and causes the nail to thicken or sometimes also break. The people suffering from this unpleasant infection often feel very insecure about the appearance of their feet which can cause social isolation. This is especially a problem during summertime when people tend to wear sandals or go barefoot on the beach.
Fortunately, there are many remedies that can be used to treat this infection. There are several antifungals oral prescription drugs such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or fluconazole (Diflucan) available that are traditionally used to treat toenail fungus. The major downside of these treatments is the number of side effects they cause. Some of them can become very serious and include dizziness, jaundice, serious skin irritations and stomach problems.
Instead of these powerful but somewhat risky substances, you might want to try using these popular homemade remedies instead.
Click on the next page to see 10 of the most effective home remedies for toenail fungus.
1. Vicks VapoRub
Vicks VapoRub is not designed to treat fungal infections, instead it is meant to help with coughing and other problems of the upper respiratory tract. The rub consists of eucalyptus and camphor which are effective substances to reduce the effects of a cold. Interestingly, they also help with toenail fungus. There has even been a scientific study on this in 2011 which has proven that Vicks VapoRub had a positive clinical effect. Just apply a small amount to the affected area once or twice a day.
Ageratin extract is designed to fight fungal infections and consists of plants from the sunflower family. Amazingly, the extract has been scientifically proven to be just as effective against fungus as Cyclopirox (one of the most common prescription drugs to combat this diagnosis). All you have to do is apply the drug to the affected area every three days. It is important to continue treatment for a few months to make sure the fungus is eradicated completely. Ageratin extract can be hard to find in local stores, which makes the best way of buying it an online health store.
3. Melaleuca (Tea tree oil)
Melaleuca is an essential oil and can be used to treat fungus infections due to its antiseptic and antifungal properties. The oil is often also called tea tree oil. Studies conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health have indicated that the substance likely has a positive effect on toenail fungus. The oil is very easy to use, all you have to do is to rub it onto the affected nail twice a day. Tea tree oil can be found here.
4. Oregano Oil
Another very effective oil to help with fungus is Oregano oil. It’s especially its component Thymol which offers antifungal as well as antibacterial properties that have been proven by a 2016 review. Similar to Tea tree oil, all you have to do is to apply this pleasant smelling substance to the affected nail twice a day. You can also mix Tea tree oil and Oregano oil and apply them at the same time. Keep in mind, that the mix of these two substances might cause irritations so start with a small amount to check for allergies or other problems. Similar to other natural remedies, Oregano oil can easily be found online.
5. Olive leaf extract
Most people are very familiar with olive oil but did you know that olive leaf extract also offers valuable substances? Oleuropein, one of the most valuable components found in olive leaves, is considered to offer antimicrobial and immune-stimulating properties. Most importantly, it also offers antifungal properties which help with toenail fungus. The oil can be taken orally accompanied by a meal (twice a day) or applied directly to the affected toe nail. Make sure to drink plenty of water during this treatment. The oil can be found online.
6. Ozonated oil
Ozonated oils are not very well known but offer amazing potential health benefits. It’s often either olive oil or sunflower oil that is injected with ozone gas and applied to the affected area. Ozone is known for its strong effects on small organisms such as yeast, fungus and bacteria. There are even studies available suggesting that ozonated oil is MORE effective at treating toenail fungus than prescription drugs like Ketoconazole (Xolegel). All you have to do is to apply the oil twice a day.
There is no scientific evidence suggesting that vinegar has an effect on toenail fungus. That being said, vinegar is a safe homemade remedy and also offers other positive effects for the skin of your feet. You can try to soak your affected foot in vinegar for 20 minutes a day. Make sure to mix the vinegar with two parts of warm water before dipping your foot into this substance.
Listerine is similar to certain rubs that are used to treat the symptoms of the common cold. The reason for that is the usage of ingredients such as menthol, thymol, and eucalyptus. These components have proven antifungal properties which makes them perfect as a tool against toenail fungus. To get the best out of this remedy, you need to soak your affected foot in a Listerine container for around 30 minutes a day.
Garlic is known as a natural antibiotic and is also believed to have antifungal properties. This treatment might not be suitable for everyone due to the strong garlic odor associated with it but if you don’t mind the strong smell you can try using minced garlic cloves. Simply apply them to the affected nail for 30 minutes a day. There are also garlic capsules that can be taken orally. They don’t cause any unpleasant odor but are likely less effective at treating toenail fungus. Make sure to follow the instructions of the manufacturer of mentioned garlic capsules so you make sure to use the right amount.
10. Try changing your diet
Everyone knows that there is a strong link between diet and health. You are what you eat! This old saying still applies and when fighting toenail fungus your body will need all the help it can get. The stronger your immune system is, the faster you will recover from toenail fungus. Try eating the following foods to give your body much-needed nutrients:
- protein-rich food that helps nail growth such as probiotic yoghurt
- food rich in iron to avoid brittle nails (meat, beans, spinach, kale)
- essential fatty acids (fish, algae oil)
- calcium and vitamin D, either as a supplement or as part of certain food items such as dairy products