Many of us spend a lot of time and money making sure our feet and toenails look attractive. We cut, polish, scrub, moisturize and remove the rough and tough skin. After all, our feet on display we when go to the pool, take a yoga class at the gym, and get a weekly pedicure. However, beware, because those are the very same places where you’re at risk of developing toenail fungus. And we can all agree that toenail fungus is one of the most hideous things that can appear on our feet.
Onychomycosis, also known as nail fungus, is often picked up in environments where you are barefoot in wet areas. This includes walking around a public pool and using the restroom at the pool, shared showers and locker room at your gym, and at your favorite nail salon where you treat yourself to pedicures.
There are other factors which can promote the growth of nail fungus. This includes high acid levels in the skin, a weak immune system, lousy washing habits, diabetes, and feet that are always tucked into sweaty socks and shoes.
It starts with a small white or yellow spot underneath your nail. But then it can spread to the entire nail, causing it to thicken and maybe even crumble, split or chip the nail. The deeper the fungus penetrates, there’s the chance that it can result in the loss of the entire nail.
Toenail fungus is persistent and stubborn. It can live in your toenail for many months, even several years. This is because our feet are usually confined in the warm and moist environment of socks and shoes, which only encourages the fungus to thrive.
Nail Fungus Medicine
If you see a dermatologist for your fungal nail infection, you will most likely be prescribed a topical treatment or oral medication to fight the fungus. Many of these anti-fungal drugs are expensive and can take months or up to a year to cure the infection. That’s if they end up working at all, as many prescription treatments are not always successful at completely eliminating the fungus or preventing it from reappearing. Then there are the harmful side effects to consider, which can range from skin rashes and an upset stomach to dizziness and even toxic liver damage.
This why many people are turning to natural home remedy treatments to help get rid of their embarrassing toenail fungus.
Best Home Treatment Cures for Nail Fungus
Many at-home treatments for toenail fungus are natural, inexpensive, and have minimal if any, side effects. It’s a much more favorable alternative to prescription treatments. Home remedies usually work the best on mild or moderate infections. If you have diabetes or a weakened immune system, contact your doctor before trying any at home methods. The effectiveness of these natural treatments will be dependent on how penetrated the fungus is in the nail, the severity of the fungal infection, and your overall health.
Below are my top recommendations for treating toenail fungus at home, with many items you probably already have in your pantry.
No. 1 – Apple Cider Vinegar
When a toenail is infected with fungus, the pH of the surrounding skin and nail becomes more alkaline, and fungus thrives in this environment. If the pH of the area becomes acidic, the fungus will die off. This is how apple cider vinegar can help because it’s acidic but still mild enough not to damage the surrounding skin and nail.
Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar with water and soak your feet in the solution for 15-20 minutes twice a day. Make sure there is enough fluid to cover the toes entirely and alternate between warm water and cold water for every other foot bath. Make sure to dry feet thoroughly after soaking.
If you don’t have time to soak your feet twice a day, you can apply two drops of apple cider vinegar directly to the nail bed. Allow the vinegar to sit for several minutes to get the full effects, before drying it off thoroughly. This should be done at least twice a day and can be used in conjunction with the foot bath. Continue with this treatment until the entire diseased nail has grown out and a new healthy nail appears, which usually takes a couple of months.
No. 2 – Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has powerful antifungal, antiseptic and antibacterial properties that can stop the fungi dead in its tracks. Applying tea tree oil on a regular basis is a popular measure for treating nail fungus infections. It can also help improve the nail’s health and appearance at a rapid pace.
Mix 3-4 drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoonful of olive oil. First, clean the affected area, then apply the solution with a cotton ball. Let it soak on the nail and skin for about 10-15 minutes and then scrub it off. Repeat this method two times a day until the nail is completely healed.
No. 3 – White Vinegar
Using white vinegar is one of the best-known ways to help cure a nail fungus infection. The acidity of vinegar repairs the PH balance, which is necessary to combat fungi and bacteria. White vinegar offers the same benefits as apple cider vinegar for treating toenail fungus and can be used in the same way, with slight modifications.
Mix one part of white vinegar with two parts of water and soak foot into the solution for 15-20 minutes. Dry feet completely when done. Continue this method twice a day until the fungus is 100% cured.
No. 4 – Oregano Oil
Oregano oil contains thymol, which has natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. Due to these germ-fighting benefits, oregano oil can be used to combat fungal infections of the toenail.
Apply oregano oil to the affected nail twice daily with a cotton swab and continue until the fungus is gone.
No. 5 – Cornmeal
Cornmeal, a staple for gardeners because of its natural anti-fungal properties, is the main ingredient in a mush foot soak which has been used to treat toenail fungus infections successfully. While this method is a bit time-consuming, many people have experienced excellent results within a short period of time.
Things you’ll need: Organic whole ground cornmeal, water, bucket, pan or basin.
- Pour a 1-inch layer of cornmeal into the pan or basin. Make sure the pan can fit your foot lying flat.
- Add 10 cups of water. There should be a 1-inch layer of water over the layer of cornmeal – the water and cornmeal should not mix yet.
- Let the mix sit for about an hour, which will allow the water and cornmeal to combine naturally. The combination should look like mush. If it does not, allow it to sit until it looks like soggy oatmeal or mush.
- Place another 1-inch layer of warm water on top of the mush.
- Soak the affected foot in the pan for 30 minutes.
- Rinse the mush off and pat the foot dry with a clean towel.
Soak toenails twice a day until the fungus infection clears up.
No. 6 – Garlic
Garlic has antifungal properties that may help with foot fungus treatment, thanks to its compounds such as allicin and ajoene, which work to treat the toenail fungus.
Apply crushed up garlic or garlic oil on and around the infected area and then cover it with a bandage. Leave the dressing on for at least 30 min. For a less smelly alternative, you can try to use the inside of garlic capsules instead. Repeat daily until the toenail fungus is eliminated.
No. 7 – Snakeroot Extract
Snakeroot extract is an antifungal made from plants that are part of the sunflower family. A study conducted in 2008 showed that snakeroot extract can be as useful for treating toenail fungus as ciclopirox, which is a prescription antifungal medicine.
Apply the extract to the affected area once every three days for the first month, twice a week for the second month, and once a week for the third month. Continue until the fungus is completely gone.
No. 8 – Topical Over-the-Counter (OTC) Nail Solutions with Natural Ingredients
If you’ve tried any of these home remedies and you weren’t pleased with the results or not seeing a significant change over a period of time, you may want to try an over the counter topical treatment. If you decide to go this route, I recommend looking for topicals which contain the following natural ingredients:
- Undecylenic Acid has excellent affinity for treating both bacteria and fungus.
- Clove Oil has been shown to treat fungus, as well as certain viral infections effectively.
- Vitamin E Oil, a natural antioxidant, has powerful skin healing properties.
- Tea Tree Oil, as described above, has very strong anti-fungal benefits.
One OTC product I highly recommend, which contains many of the natural ingredients listed above, is Zeta Clear.
Change Your Diet
While trying to eliminate a toenail fungus infection, it helps to incorporate nutritious foods into your daily diet. There is no doubt, that there’s a direct link between the foods you consume and your overall health. Therefore, the healthier your diet, the better chance your body has to fight off infections, including nail fungus. These are some specific foods which can help:
- Probiotic-rich foods: Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi.
- Protein to support re-growth of the nail: Eggs, almonds, chicken, cheese.
- Iron to prevent brittle nails: Eggs, beef, chicken, pork.
- Vitamin D and Calcium: Milk, fish, eggs.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Grass-fed beef, salmon, chia seeds.
If you are looking to get rid of a mild to moderate toenail fungus infection, trying a natural home remedy can be a great place to start. You’ll save money, while also avoiding the side effects which are associated with prescription treatments. There are many at home treatments worth trying, so if one doesn’t work, give one of the other treatments a shot, until your toenail fungus is gone for good.