Nail fungus may not cause pain or interfere with activities, but it can be embarrassing and unsightly. Natural remedies, used faithfully, can heal nail fungus and allow you to feel comfortable going barefoot or wearing sandals again. Effective home treatments include vinegar, essential oils and coconut oil.
What Is Nail Fungus?
Toenail fungus, formally known as onychomycosis, is a very common fungal infection that afflicts the dark, moist environment of the feet and can be picked up just about anywhere (fingernail fungus is possible as well and can be treated in the same way, but occurs less often).
Symptoms of toenail fungus are generally limited to the nail itself and begin with a white or yellow patch beneath a nail’s tip. This will worsen until the affected nail thickens and becomes brittle. Other symptoms include changes in nail color and shape; eventually nails will split or even separate from the nail bed.
Nail fungus may accompany other fungal issues like athlete’s foot or a systemic candida infection. The key to completely eradicating nail fungus is to faithfully use the remedy you choose for 3-6 months on a daily basis. If you have a systemic fungal infection, treating it accordingly will be necessary to keep the infection from returning.
Vinegar is acidic, making it an effective antifungal. You can use apple cider vinegar, but plain white vinegar works well too and is less expensive.
First you need to find a basin big enough to soak your feet in. Then put a vinegar and water solution in the basin. (Use ½ vinegar and ½ water.) Soak your feet for 20 minutes each day. You should be able to use the vinegar solution for 2 days. Make a fresh solution every other day.
If you also suffer from athlete’s foot, this treatment option may kill two birds with one stone.
Essential oils are concentrated plant oils. Tea tree oil, lavender oil and oregano oil are all strong antifungals. They smell quite strongly. Chose the one that appeals to your sense of smell so you won’t mind using the treatment daily for many months.
After you shower simply add a drop or two of essential oil to each infected toenail. Most people can tolerate tea tree oil or lavender oil neat (without diluting.) Oregano oil is very strong and can burn the skin. If you decide to use it neat on your toenails, avoid contact with your skin. You can dilute oregano oil in coconut oil, which also helps to fight fungus. Add 40 drops of oregano oil to 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil.
You may wish to use this treatment before bed at night and wear designated cotton socks to protect your sheets.
Castor oil is a thick and smooth oil. It does not have a strong smell. It can be applied daily to the affected nails. If you use this at bedtime you may want to wear cotton socks to protect your sheets.
Coconut oil is another great antifungal oil. Like essential oils and castor oil, apply to the nails daily for many months.
Fungus thrives in a moist environment. If you wear shoes all day, and especially if your feet sweat, fungus is more likely to grown and may be harder to treat. Most people must wear shoes at work. Choose shoes that are made of leather, cotton, or canvas so the feet can breathe. Wear cotton or bamboo socks. Synthetic materials retain bacteria and fungus and don’t breath.
When you are at home, go barefoot or wear open toe sandals or flip flops as much as possible. Allow your feet and nails some time in the sun each day. If you happen to live near the ocean, a daily walk in the shallow water may solve you problem as salt water can kill fungus!
If you have symptoms of candida (chronic systemic fungal infection) you will want to consider a more comprehensive treatment plan to heal your entire body.
Some basic changes to help your body heal from a fungal infection would include reducing the amount of sugar and processed foods that you eat. Eating probiotic foods daily like kefir, yogurt, or kimchi can also facilitate healing.
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Continue reading to see how our readers have successfully cured their nail fungus with a wide variety of natural remedies!