Toenail infection is mostly caused by a group of fungus, known as dermatophytes. Fingernails can also be infected, but this pathological condition is more frequent on the big toe and little toe. Nail fungus or onychomycosis, like any other fungus, thrives well in the moist and dark environment. Infection starts as a small spot that spreads eventually, if timely treatment is not followed. This fungal disease is transmittable and can spread to other nails and/or other parts of the body.
Causes and Symptoms
While lack of foot hygiene and wearing poorly fitting shoes over a period of time are responsible for majority of the toenail infection cases, the fungus may also get transmitted after coming in contact with a person infected with dermatophytes. The chances of onychomycosis are higher in people having weak immune system, abnormal pH of the skin, and peripheral vascular disease. There are mainly three types of toenail infections - distal subungual onychomycosis (DSO), white superficial onychomycosis (WSO), and proximal subungual onychomycosis (PSO).
Irrespective of the infection types, symptoms of toenail fungus begin with discolored spots and significant change of nail color to yellow, followed by thickening and shedding of nails, deposition of keratinous substance under the nails, and crumbling of the edges. Foul smell coming from underneath the affected nails is also a common sign of nail fungus. Diagnosis is based on the signs and symptoms, lifestyle, and medical history. At times, a small sample of the nails will be observed under a microscope to rule out other nail conditions. Treatment is usually done by following home remedies, and if necessary, antifungal medications may be prescribed.
Treating with Vinegar
Addressing toenail infection is necessary as the symptoms are quite annoying and painful. Some afflicted people even find it challenging to walk normally and wear regular shoes. An inexpensive yet effectual approach to cure nail fungus is using vinegar. Of course, there are other natural remedies of toenail infection, like applying tea tree oil, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and turmeric. But, vinegar treatment is one of the effective ways that has been approved by many people. The following info explains how to apply vinegar for toenail fungus cure.
Why Use Vinegar for Toenail Infection?
Vinegar is a dilute acetic acid produced from the oxidation of any liquid containing alcohol. The acidic nature of this solution helps in killing fungi and bacteria that cause infection. As with toenail fungus, applying pure vinegar after diluting is shown to be an effective cure. It also helps regulate the skin pH and reduces itching. To support these claims, studies have been done and the conclusion is, vinegar is more effective when applied in the initial stages of toenail infection.
Apple Cider or White Vinegar
The major drawback of using vinegar in the treatment of toenail infection is that it needs around four to six months for giving effective results. Also, the responses may vary from one person to another depending upon advancement of the fungus in the nails. You can use any type of pure vinegar, but it is recommended to use apple cider vinegar and white vinegar (if possible) as they are known to be more helpful in fighting off toenail fungus.
Vinegar and Water Solution
One way of using vinegar is by mixing it with water. Combine one cup of pure vinegar with two parts of lukewarm water. Soak the infected nail in this solution for about 20 minutes. Follow this method twice daily (morning and evening). Needless to remind, you should clean hands and feet before and after using the treatment method. Also, make sure that the feet and nails are dried properly, which otherwise may lead to further spreading of fungal infection.
Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide
Another method is to wipe the infected nails with cotton soaked in a mixture of equal amounts of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. You can also put two drops of the above mixture or vinegar in the infected nails with the help of a dropper. Following this twice per day will help in curing nail infection. As the infected nail grows, it is advisable to trim as short as possible until the affected part of the nail disappears.
Ingesting Apple Cider Vinegar
Some people opine that drinking of apple cider vinegar speeds up the healing process. The recommended dose is two tablespoons of pure apple cider vinegar taken thrice daily. However, this home remedy is controversial, and it may not be suited for some patients. To be on the safer side, it is advisable to take the physician's opinion before using apple cider vinegar internally.
Temporary treatment of toenail infection with vinegar is not the end of the story, but proper nail care should be adopted to avoid recurrent infections and associated complications. Whenever possible, expose your nails to air and choose shoes that fit you properly. It is advisable to keep your toenails dry after bathing or washing your feet. You can use tissue paper to wipe the corners of your toenails. Since the floors in public places like gyms, locker rooms, shower rooms, and areas around swimming pools are mostly contaminated with nail fungus, wear slippers while entering such places to avoid any infection.