If you’ve ever come across a fungus on your toenails, you know it’s an unpleasant experience from many points of view.
Toenail fungus is a common infection of the toenails that are caused by various types of fungi. These fungi invade your nails by entering through cracks in your nail or cuts in your skin. That leads to discolored (yellow, brown, or white), thick, and cracked nails.
Toenail fungus is more prevalent during the summer months when the weather is moist and humid, causing damp or sweaty feet. That increases the chances of fungus infestation. Additionally, men, people with severe disease or weakened immune systems, and older adults are more likely to develop toenail fungus.
Many treatment options are available for toenail fungus, including prescription oral antifungals, laser treatment, over-the-counter drugs, and surgery.
People usually prefer using effective products or items commonly found at home before going for medications or going to a clinic.
Toenail fungus can be treated with medication, but there are also effective natural remedies you may want to try at home. (#6 is the most effective)
1. Vicks VapoRub
Vicks VapoRub is one of the most used over-the-counter topical remedies for treating toenail fungus. It is made entirely of natural ingredients, including eucalyptus oil, camphor, and menthol.
While initially made for cough suppression, a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine showed the positive impact of Vicks VapoRub in the treatment of toenail fungus.
How to use: Apply a small amount of Vicks VapoRub daily on the affected area to take advantage of its benefits. This remedy can be used either alone or in combination with other remedies.
Aside from its uses in cooking and cleaning, vinegar has shown promise in treating toenail fungus. However, there is still no sufficient evidence that proves vinegar is an effective treatment against toenail fungus. But there is some anecdotal evidence that supports its antibacterial benefits.
How to use: Add one part vinegar to a bowl of two parts warm water and soak the affected foot for 20 minutes daily.
3. Listerine mouthwash
Like vinegar, there is no evidence supporting the use of Listerine mouthwash as a treatment for toenail fungus, but that hasn’t stopped it from being used as a folk remedy for the infection.
The active ingredients in Listerine, menthol, thymol, and eucalyptus have antibacterial and antifungal properties that are effective against toenail fungus.
How to use: Soak the affected toenails in a small bowl of Listerine mouthwash for up to 30 minutes daily.
Garlic is a superfood that offers many health and therapeutic benefits. It contains potent antifungal and antimicrobial substances that are suggested to be helpful in treating toenail fungus.
How to use: Place chopped or crushed garlic cloves on the affected toenails for 30 minutes daily. You can also take garlic supplements to avoid chemical burns from raw garlic. Use the supplements as directed by the manufacturer or your physician.
4. Adjust your diet
There is a possibility that your diet can be the underlying cause of the fungus overgrowth. However, by eating healthy meals, you can improve your chances of combating infections, including toenail fungus.
Here are some of the things you should consider including in your diet to improve your overall health and well-being:
• Food rich in protein to support nail growth.
• Yogurts that are high in probiotics
• high-iron diet to prevent brittle nails
• Food rich in calcium and vitamin D
• Food rich in fatty acids
5. Snakeroot extract
Snakeroot extract is an all-natural antifungal that is made from plants in the sunflower family. According to a study, the application of snakeroot extract on the affected area can reap immense benefits over three months. It offers the same effects as the prescription antifungal medicine ciclopirox.
How to use: The study recommends applying snakeroot extract every third day for the first month, twice a week for the second month, and once a week for the third month.
6. Tea tree oil
Like many essential oils, tea tree oil has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties and can be effective in the treatment of toenail fungus.
A 2013 study revealed that tea tree oil is effective in treating the fungus Trichophyton rubrum (T. rubrum), the culprit behind toenail fungus. However, other studies suggest using tree tea oil in conjunction with other medications to ensure its efficacy.
How to use: Mix the tea tree oil with carrier oil, like olive oil and coconut oil, and use a cotton swab to apply directly on the affected nail.
7. Ozonated oils
Ozonized oils are oils that contain ozone gas. These include olive oil and sunflower oil. Ozonized oils are made with the idea that the application of ozone on affected areas can help deliver oxygen faster, killing bacteria and accelerating cell healing.
Studies have found that ozonized oils are effective against fungal strains, yeast, and bacteria. They also have higher efficacy than the prescription topical antifungal ketoconazole (Xolegel).
How to use: Massage the affected nails with a small amount of ozonized oil twice a day.
8. Oregano oil
The active ingredient, thymol, in the oregano herb has been proven effective in treating toenail fungus. Thymol, which is responsible for oregano’s taste and aroma, has antibacterial and antifungal properties that are highly beneficial.
How to use: Use a cotton swab to apply the oregano oil to the affected area twice daily. Remember to mix it with a carrier oil to dilute its potency, as it may cause an adverse effect on people with sensitive skin.
9. Olive leaf extract
Oleuropein, an active ingredient in olive leaf extract, is an antifungal and antimicrobial and is believed to have an immune-boosting ability.
A review published in the Pharma Innovation Journal showed that olive leaf extract might help in the treatment of toenail fungus. However, you need to be careful with your usage of this remedy as it comes with side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea, and fatigue.
How to use: If you are taking the extract as a capsule, it’s recommended to take two capsules twice a day with meals and plenty of water. You can also apply olive leaf extract as a salve directly on the affected toenail.
When to see a doctor:
For most people, toenail fungus is more or less a cosmetic problem and can be solved using home remedies. But if you have diabetes, weakened immune systems, or psoriasis, you should avoid home remedies altogether and immediately contact your doctor.
People with diabetes risk foot ulcers and other foot problems if they become infected with toenail fungus. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to amputations.