Toenail fungus is a common issue that affects both men and women equally. It is seen that the older you get, the more you are likely to be prone to it. It is a common condition, which begins as a yellow or white spot under the tip of the toenail. Toenail fungal infection can affect adults and children too, where the fungus may affect the nail bed.

What is Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus is an infection that gets in through the cracks in the nails. It causes the toenails to get thicker and change colour. It can also cause pain, and because toes are often damp and warm there, the fungus grows well. Onychomycosis that is also known as tineaunguium, which is a fungal infection of the nail. The untreated toenail fungal infection at times, can spread to the surrounding area on foot.

Symptoms of Toenail Fungus:

When one is affected by toenail fungus, then the symptom primarily involves aesthetic effects on the toenails. The toenail fungus symptoms vary widely depending on the severity of the infection and for how long it has been left untreated. In most cases, there is no pain. The common symptoms are.

  • Discolouration of the nail to black, white, green, or yellow.
  • Thickened nails.
  • Nails become brittle, easily break or chip.
  • The nail bed is discoloured where the skin around the nail is yellow to white.
  • Scaly or dry scaly skin all around the nail.
  • Foul smell.

Causes of Onychomycosis:

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection, and some of the common causes are,

  • Ageing is one of the common reasons for onychomycosis. As one gets older, the nails tend to get thicker, and due to a weak immune system, it makes the elderly more prone to onychomycosis.
  • Restricted ventilation can also increase the risk of infection in toenails.
  • Yeast onychomycosis is caused by Candida. Candida can cause yellow, brown, white, or thickened nails.

Preventive Measures for Toenail Fungus Infection:

The following precautions should be followed to prevent toenail fungus, reinfections, and athlete’s foot, which ends in causing nail fungus:

  • Wash hands and feet regularly, especially after touching an infected nail. Moisturize nails after washing.
  • Trim nails straight across, smoothen the edges with a file.
  • Disinfect nail clippers after each use.
  • Wear socks that are sweat-absorbing and change your socks daily.
  • Choose shoes made of breathable material.
  • In pool areas and locker rooms, always wear footwear.
  • Ensure that you choose a nail salon where sterilized manicure tools are used.

Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus Treatment:

Let us look at some of the home remedies to treat toenail fungus:

1. Bleach

This well-known home remedy shows us how to get rid of toenail fungus with bleach. Bleach water soaks helpful for fungal infection of the toenails. It is known to be effective in combating fungus. The chlorine in the bleach is supposed to treat the fungus.

Required Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of bleach.
  • 1/2 gallon of water.

How to Prepare:

  • Take a basin to add half a gallon water along with a tablespoon of bleach.

How to Use:

  • Soak feet in this solution for 10 minutes.

How is it Helpful:

  • The bleach helps to kill the fungus and treat it.

Side Effects:

  • Ensure that excess bleach is not used, as too much of it can burn the skin.

2. Baking Soda:

Baking soda treats fungal infection, as well as neutralizes foot odor at the same time. It can soak up moisture that may cause toenail fungus and shows us how to get rid of toenail fungus with baking soda.

Required Ingredients:

  • Baking soda.
  • Water.

How to Prepare:

  • Take a bowl and mix the required amount of baking soda and water to a paste-like consistency.

How to Use:

  • Apply this paste on the infected toe.
  • Let it remain for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse after this.

How is it Helpful:

  • Do this several times until the infection clears.

See Also: Cracked Peeling Fingertips

3. Essential Oil

Essential oils are excellent for topical treatment with antifungal properties, and the best essential oil for toenail fungus that could destroy the fungus was the clove oil.

The other essential oils that work best on toenail fungus are Oregano oil known for its blend of antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties. The antifungal properties of tea tree oil make it perfect to kill the fungus on the toenail and have been used in traditional medicine(1).

Another essential oil, which comes to the rescue to combat fungus is Lavender oil. The lavender oil has a potent antifungal effect against toenail infections.

Eucalyptus has been known to inhibit the growth of fungi and helpful in white superficial onychomycosis or distal lateral subungual fungal toenail infections(2).

Peppermint and Thyme have been known to be very effective against fungi infections on toenails.

Lemongrass has been known to have antifungal properties. (3)

Here is how to use it effectively.

Required Ingredients:

  • Use essential oil of your choice (Clove oil, Oregano Oil, Peppermint Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Lavender Oil, Lemongrass Oil, and Thyme Oil).

How to Prepare:

  • Take 2-3 drops of essential oil.
  • Take 20 drops of carrier oil like coconut oil.
  • Use a cotton gauze pad to apply on the infected toe.

How to Use:

  • Always use essential oil diluted with a carrier oil.

How is it Helpful:

  • Apply this two to three times in a day for a few weeks to see results.

Side Effects:

  • Ensure that you are not allergic to any of the essential oils.

4. Coconut Oil

Research shows that coconut oil has antifungal properties and has established that coconut oil for toenail fungus infection is an effective antifungal agent. It works as a conditioner for the skin and has fatty acids to keep fungal infection at bay (4). Studies show that coconut oil can be effective against Candida albicans, which is responsible for fungal infections.

Required Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil.
  • The essential oil of your choice.

How to Prepare:

  • Mix coconut oil with essential oil of your choice OR apply coconut oil gently on the affected area after washing and drying the area.

How to Use:

  • Apply coconut oil on the area of infection for four and six times a day.
  • It can be combined with other antifungal and antimicrobial ingredients to help increase its increase effectiveness.

How is it Helpful:

  • The antifungal properties work on fungal infections by boosting the immune system.

Side Effects:

  • Take care to check that one is not allergic to any of the oils.

See Also: Brown Spots On The Skin

5. Garlic:

Garlic for toenail fungus can disrupt the lifecycle of fungal colonies and promotes circulation to that area. It contains allicin (5), which is a strong antimicrobial compound. It also improves the amount of nutrition in that area. Garlic is a natural product that has been used by many people to treat toenail fungus.

Required Ingredients:

  • Garlic cloves (required amount).

How to Prepare:

  • Chop the garlic cloves into pieces.

How to Use:

  • Apply it on the affected nails and let it remain for 30 minutes.

How is it Helpful:

  • The antifungal properties of the garlic help to treat it.

Side Effects:

  • Be careful when you rub garlic on the fungal nail as raw garlic can cause a chemical burn.

6. Snakeroot

Studies reveal that snakeroot extract is used in the treatment of toenail fungal infections. They are very effective and found in plants belonging to the sunflower family. Research has shown that to treat toenail fungus, and the extract must be applied on the infected toe two times a week. This is during the first month. In the following month, the frequency of application can be decreased to once a week and eventually stopped.

Required Ingredients:

  • Snakeroot extract.

How to Use:

  • The extract is to be applied twice a week on the affected toe during the first month.
  • After that, reduce the frequency to once every week and eventually stop when the desired result is achieved. (6)

How is it Helpful:

  • Its antifungal properties are said to be effective against toenail fungus.

7. White Vinegar:

According to research, the use of vinegar aids in the control of toenail fungus by eliminating it because of the acidic nature of vinegar. Some people have even tried using a combination of vinegar and Listerine, while others have used a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Either way, it shows that vinegar is the key ingredient in fighting toenail fungus.

Required Ingredients:

  • White vinegar.

How to Prepare:

  • Prepare a white vinegar soak.
  • When using vinegar and water, use a ratio of 1:2. Soak feet in the mixture for about 20 minutes and rinse off.
  • When mixing with baking soda, use a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in the mixture
  • (OR) if you are using Listerine to use one cup of Listerine in this mixture.

How to Use:

  • Soak your feet for 20 minutes in a vinegar bath.
  • Do this until the infection subsides.

How is it Helpful:

  • The length of time in the soak can gradually be increased. It may take about 2-3 weeks to see improvement.

8. Vicks Vaporub:

Vicks vaporub has ingredients that make it effective in curing the toenail fungus; they are camphor and eucalyptus oil. A study published in JABFM, treating toenail fungus with mentholated ointments has positive outcomes (7). The study reveals that there is an 83% success rate when using Vicks to treat the fungus and shows how to get rid of toenail fungus with Vicks.

Required Ingredients:

  • VicksVapoRub.

How to Prepare:

  • Clean your toes with cold water and pat dry.

How to Use:

  • To use Vicks effectively, apply ointment to the affected area.
  • Directly apply using a cotton swab and do this twice daily.

How is it Helpful:

  • Do this at least once a day, to obtain effective results.

9. Listerine

Listerine is an antiseptic mouthwash, which has been shown to help cure toenail fungus because it has ingredients that have antibacterial and antifungal properties. The best Listerine mouthwash to use is the one with the amber colour. This magic potion at home does work for some people and how to get rid of toenail fungus with Listerine.

Required Ingredients:

  • Listerine mouthwash.
  • Suitable sized tub.

How to Prepare:

  • Use a tub to suit the length of your foot.

How to Use:

  • To use this soak effectively, you must soak your feet in water containing some Listerine (8).
  • Keep the feet soaked in the mixture for about 30 minutes.
  • Use only the required quantity of water as too much would require the use of so much Listerine.

How is it Helpful:

  • Use a small amount of water so that one cap of Listerine is sufficient.

10. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide for toenail fungus may help to kill the fungus. It is a natural cure and a drying agent. It can have antifungal action at low concentrations.

Required Ingredients:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide.
  • Basin.

How to Prepare:

  • Prepare a foot soak by filling the basin with warm water and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Hydrogen peroxide may bubble when added, and the foot may turn white for some time.
  • This soak enables cleaning toenails with hydrogen peroxide.

How to Use:

  • Soak legs in this basin for 10 minutes.

How is it Helpful:

  • Hydrogen peroxide bleaches out the yellow in the toenail within a week.

Side Effects:

  • If there are open wounds on the foot, then the hydrogen peroxide may sting.

See More: Home Remedies To Treat Paronychia

Best Creams, Nail Polish or Tablets for Nail Fungus

Topical treatment with nail fungus may take up to one year. Tablets for treating this kind of fungal nail infections generally have to be taken for several weeks or months. Tablets are more effective than topical treatments, but they have side effects too. The treatment options for nail fungus include creams, nail polishes, as well as tablets. Toenail fungus treatment cream and nail polishes can be procured from pharmacies without a prescription (9).

1. Medicated Nail Polishes

It is common for people try to treat nail fungus with colourless nail polish. The medicated nail polish for fungus contains the growth-inhibiting and antifungal ingredient amorolfine or ciclopirox. They differ in how they have to be used. Cosmetic nail polish is applied on top of the medicated nail polish.

How To Use:

  • Certain steps have to be taken before applying the nail polish, and the affected nail has to be cut and filed.
  • With both treatments, the old layers of polish have to be removed using an alcohol swab before applying a new layer,
  • and the remaining polish is removed using water before each new application.

Dosage:

  • To be applied daily.

Side Effects:

  • Pain,
  • discolouration could be possible side effects.

2. Ciclopirox

Research reveals there are water-soluble nail polishes to treat toenail fungal infections. Ciclopirox inhibits the growth of toenail fungus.

How To Use:

  • The first step would be to cut and file your nails before initiating treatment.

Dosage:

  • The polish is applied to the infected nails on alternate days in the first month,
  • then twice a week in the second month,
  • and once a week in the third month.

Side Effects:

  • The usage of this medicine could cause a burning sensation around toenails and dryness.

3. Bifonazole Cream

There are antifungal creams for toenails like Bifonazole, which has an antifungal effect. The treatment sets contain cream and a nail scraper (spatula), which can be used for the topical treatment of nail fungus. Bifonazole cream nail fungus works effectively too.

How To Use:

  • In warm water, soak the infected toe for ten minutes.
  • After drying the toe, apply the urea-based cream to the nail.
  • The nail is covered with a bandage.
  • Remove the bandage off after 24 hours, and the toe is held in warm water again.
  • The softened layer of the nail is scraped with a spatula.
  • The cream is applied, and the nail is covered with a new bandage.

Dosage:

  • This treatment is done for over 14 days.
  • Once the affected part of the nail is scraped away, the skin beneath is treated for another 4 weeks with a bifonazole cream.

Side Effects:

  • Some people may be affected, so watch out for side effects like allergies, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

4. Terbinafine

When the nail fungus is caused by a skin fungus (dermatophyte), Terbinafine is preferred. Terbinafine for toenail fungus has tablets that can both be taken with breaks or continuously between treatments. Terbinafine is an antifungal medication that fights fungal infections.

How To Use:

  • Overall, the study reveals that tablets are more effective than nail polishes or creams.
  • The treatment typically does not take any longer than three to four months

Dosage:

  • In continuous treatment, the medication is taken usually once a day for three months (dose: 250 mg).
  • In treatment with a break, the medication can be used in the following way:
  • 500 mg terbinafine (2 tablets) for a week daily, then a three-week break
  • 250 mg terbinafine (1 tablet) daily for four weeks, then a four-week break

Side Effects:

  • Terbinafine can cause gastrointestinal problems and a temporary loss of smell and taste.
  • It can also interact with certain heart medications and antidepressants.

Risk Complications with Toenail Infection

Dermatophytes cause a vast majority of superficial fungal infections, and toenail fungus complications can arise. Among superficial fungal infections, the most difficult to cure is toenail onychomycosis.

In order to successfully cure toenail onychomycosis, it requires long treatment duration that may extend to a full year. Further, it is said that men are up to three times more likely to have onychomycosis than women; the reasons for this gender difference is not clear. The prevalence among children suggests a genetic risk factor (10). Other risk factors include diabetes and poor peripheral circulation (11). Several nonclinical risk factors affect a person’s chance of developing fungal nail infections. Further, foot infections are likely to spread, including tineapedis or athlete’s foot and toenail fungus that may occur in shower stalls, locker rooms, bathrooms, or locker rooms where the floor surfaces are often wet, and people walk barefoot. Nail trauma will also lead to a risk of fungal infection of the affected nail, especially in the geriatric population (12).

When to Consult Doctor

When home remedies on fungal nail infections do not work or help, then it is the right time to see your podiatrist or doctor. The sooner you seek your doctor’s help, the better it is as fungal nail infections get worse over time. If the nail turns black or brown, hurts, or pulls away from nailbed, then immediately pay a visit to your doctor. One must regularly check nails, especially if one is a diabetic to prevent the issue from getting worse. Seek help for any untreated toenail fungus. A doctor would immediately be able to diagnose if you have fungal nail infection by looking at the toes or fingers. Some tests may also be required.

Onychomycosis or fungal nail infection affects mainly toenails, and they are generally asymptomatic. The clinical signs of the infection are non-specific. Antifungal lacquers cure fungal infections, but there is no concrete evidence that these solutions are more effective than other topical antifungals that are applied daily to the affected nail. Trimming, grinding, and filing the nail are likely to be beneficial along with drug treatment. Surgical nail avulsion can be performed, but it carries the risk of local infection and permanent nail dystrophy. Fungal nail infections are usually mild, and treatments with potentially severe effects and must be undertaken with caution, especially if the risks outweigh the expected benefits.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. We try our best to maintain information correct and up to date, the information provided is to create a general awareness only. For further treatment would advise that you seek the advice of a professional podiatrist or doctor.

See Also: How to Cure Fungal Infections

FAQs

1. Can laser be used for the treatment of fungal infections on nails?

Today lasers have been used extensively for the treatment of nail fungus, and there is significant clinical evidence to prove that laser treatment dramatically improves the condition of severely infected toenails. The origin of the fungal infection is important, if the infection is at the “root” of the nail, then improvement can be seen as early as 3 weeks. Oral antifungal medications are toxic and can cause serious medical complications. Laser treatments are completely drug-free and have no adverse reactions or known side effects.

2. What are the steps to take to improve nail health?

Apply a moisturizing cream to the nails on a daily basis, which will keep them moist. Moisturizing products contain urea, phospholipids, or lactic acid. These will prevent nails from cracking. Ensure that you have a diet rich in calcium to keep your nails healthy.

3. What is a cuticle cream?

Exposure to cold weather and harsh cleansing agents can cause dry hands. When it gets really worse, the cuticles might dry out. This increases the risk of developing a nasty infection. There are creams available for both the hands and cuticles that help restore moisture to your hands. Cuticle creams protect and nourish nails as they grow.

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