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Toenail Fungus Treatment and Home Remedies

Toenail Fungus Treatment and Home Remedies
Not wearing your sandals because of your ugly-looking toenail infected by a fungus? Here, in this article, you will find a foolproof solution to this unpleasant problem.
HolisticZine Staff
Last Updated: Apr 3, 2018
No Brushing Off This Fact!

Using someone else's nail polish brush is never a good idea. Fungal spores thrive on such brushes, which means, you will also get infected if you use anyone else's nail paint brush who has a nail fungal infection. This not-so-good habit, besides a few other reasons, goes on to affect around 35 million Americans every year with toenail fungus.

Nail fungal infections are also known as onychomycosis (pronounced: on-i-ko-mi-KO-sis). It is caused by tiny organisms, named Tinea unguium (a type of fungus) that infect the fingernails and toenails. Growth of the fungus occurs beneath the nails, making it difficult to reach and cure, at times.


The fungus thrives in places that are warm, moist, and dark. This is the reason why many who wear shoes constantly in warmer climates suffer from toenail fungal infections.

The following sections explain how this fungus is exactly caused, followed by detailed information about the various effective home remedies for the same.

Probable Causes for Onychomycosis

Fungal nail infections are more often caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes. Besides, toenails are more prone to getting affected by fungus in comparison to fingernails. This is because of the ideal conditions present in the toenails for the breeding of fungus, which occurs when the fungus gets under the toenails. This condition is not caused only due to poor hygiene, and can even spread from one individual to another.

A few common causes may include:

A break in the nail, helping the fungus to enter
Toenails that are weak due to wearing tight-fitting shoes
Wearing the same shoes daily without allowing them to dry thoroughly
Cutting the toenails extremely close to the skin, causing small cuts in the skin, which lets the fungus enter
Whenever your feet are damp for extended periods of time

Signs and Symptoms

The indicants of this condition vary depending upon the type of fungus that affects the nails. Mentioned below are certain signs and symptoms that will warn you about the onset of onychomycosis.

Brittle and flaky toenails
Toenails keep getting chipped
The nails turn yellow, black, or a brown tinge along with spots
Nails get thick and pain while wearing shoes
Appears dull, with no shine or luster
A bad smell emanates under the toenails
While walking, the skin under the toenails feels a stinging pain due to the infection

Many a time, the affected nails tend to part from the nail bed, and this condition is termed as onycholysis. An individual might feel throbbing pain in the fingertips or toes, besides giving out a foul smell.

Who is at a Higher Risk?

You might probably get a nail infection if you...

... are living in a warm and humid climate.
... are older than 60 years of age.
... have a family history of diabetes.
... have a weakened immune system.
... often bathe in public showers (gym, spa, etc.).
... have sweaty feet and yet wear closed shoes for long hours, which obstructs airflow.

Dial a Podiatrist
At the onset of the fungal infection, if the condition is not treated on time, it can endure for a longer period of time. Hence, the moment tiny yellow or white spots are visible under the tip of the nail, visit a podiatrist (a foot doctor) at the earliest.

Home Remedies

The moment you notice any of the symptoms, you can follow certain home remedies that will prove very effective in reducing the spread of the fungus. This fungus is contagious, and therefore, the sooner you eliminate it, the better are your chances of a speedy recovery. Following are some home remedies that use commonly-available ingredients to stop the growth of fungus, and eventually eliminate it.

Vinegar
  • Fill a basin with warm water and vinegar in equal proportions (any vinegar will do, but apple cider vinegar has proven to be most effective).
  • Soak your toenails in this solution for about 20 minutes.
  • Now wipe them thoroughly with a dry towel and then with super absorbent paper. This should be done twice daily till the symptoms disappear.

Tea Tree Oil/Lavender Oil/Thyme Oil
  • Rub the affected toenail with a cotton ball dipped in any of the above-mentioned oils.
  • Do this twice daily, morning and just before going to bed (three times if possible), for maximum effect, until the fungus is gone.
  • The uses of these oils are many, and they are a natural and powerful fungicide and antiseptic.

Listerine Mouthwash
  • Almost all homes will have this mouthwash. Soak the affected toenail in Listerine for about 20 minutes.
  • Repeat this twice daily. The antiseptic will help eradicate the fungus.

Rubbing Alcohol
  • This solution is easily available at any pharmacy. Soak the affected toenail in rubbing alcohol for about 20 minutes, twice daily (morning and just before going to bed).
  • Dry thoroughly using super absorbent paper towels.

Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
  • This can also be easily fetched at any pharmacy. Soak the affected toenail in pure hydrogen peroxide (3%) for 15 to 20 minutes, twice daily (morning and just before going to bed).
  • Some may feel the pure undiluted solution to be a bit harsh. In that case, mix half water and half hydrogen peroxide, and then soak your feet.
  • Dry with super absorbent paper towels.

Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Mix a little portion of this extract with water or glycerin, and apply on the cuticle and underneath the front part of the nail.
  • Now gently rub the nail with a soft brush and wash it off. Repeat this procedure twice a day, until the infection is cured.
  • Towel dry it completely.

Using Marjoram and Olive oil
  • Mix two drops of marjoram essential oil with a spoonful of olive oil.
  • Apply this mixture on the affected area once daily (should not exceed more than 3 weeks).
  • Marjoram has antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and antifungal properties, which have the potential to cure the nail infection.

AHA Emollients
  • Apply AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) ointments on your feet before going to bed.
  • These ointments help in shedding off scaly skin, which has a tendency to grow fungus.

Vicks VapoRub

The efficacy of using Vicks for the treatment of toenail fungus is not very clear. While some have found that using Vicks on the affected toenail has helped, others have experienced no such benefit. Vicks is known to stop the growth of fungus, but not eliminate it. You will have to use Vicks until the infected toenail grows out and a new one replaces it. Generally, it is advisable to try the other options instead of this one.

A few toenail fungus treatment options that your doctor might prescribe:

Antifungal tablets (terbinafine, itraconazole, fluconazole, etc)
Antifungal topical medicines in the form of either lotions, gels, creams, or lacquers (terbinafine, ciclopirox, etc.)
Antifungal nail paint containing amorolfine, or ciclopirox olamine
In case of a severe infection, the doctor might suggest removing the entire nail surgically

Dos and Don'ts

Make use of an antifungal powder or spray.
Trim your nails regularly, and keep them dry and clean.
Do not go barefooted to public places.
Pick a good hygienic manicure and pedicure salon.
Avoid applying nail enamels, artificial nails and stick-ons.
Wear appropriate socks and change them twice or thrice a day if you have sweaty feet.
Do not share your nail clippers, nail filers, and socks.
Use shower slippers or sandals while using public pools or showers.
Try to avoid public shower stalls and bathrooms.
Wash your hands and feet with an antifungal soap.

If you have not worn those sandals of yours for long because of a toenail fungus, try out these home remedies. In most cases than not, they work very effectively. Get out those unused sandals; you will need them to flaunt your wonderful toenails in a very short while from now.

Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is purely for informative purposes, and should not be treated as a replacement for professional medical advice.