Toenail fungus (medically known as onychomycosis) is a type of fungal infection that occurs when fungi called dermatophytes start growing under the nail.
It usually causes the nail to become crusty, thick, discolored and distorted. As the infection gets worse, the toenail may separate from the nail bed, which can cause lot of pain as well as a bad odor.
This is often a chronic problem and it can easily spread to other nails through the skin between the toes. It also spreads when nail files and clippers are used on an infected toenail and then other nails.
A lack of personal hygiene, wearing socks and shoes for long time periods, sharing footwear with an infected person, walking barefoot in public pools or showers, not drying the feet thoroughly after bathing and a weak immune system are some of the leading factors that can contribute to or aggravate toenail fungus.
Toenail fungus is a ghastly looking problem, but you can easily treat it with simple and easy home remedies. These remedies will control the infection and prevent further damage to the toenail.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for toenail fungus.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the best home remedies for toenail fungus due to the presence of antimicrobial properties.
It helps kill the fungus causing the infection, and its mild acidic nature will also prevent the infection from spreading.
- Mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water. Soak the infected toenail in this solution for half an hour. When done, pat dry your toenail thoroughly. You can even use a hair dryer to remove all the moisture in and around the toes. Do this once daily for a few weeks.
- Alternatively, you can make an exfoliating scrub with one tablespoon of coarsely ground rice flour and two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. Mix the ingredients well to make a thick paste. Apply the paste on the infected toenail and gently scrub with a toothbrush for five minutes to get rid of dead skin cells. Then rinse your feet well and pat dry with a soft towel. Follow this remedy every other day for one or two months.
2. Baking Soda
The alkaline nature of baking soda makes this ingredient a good home remedy for toenail fungus.
Baking soda will not kill the fungus, but it can effectively prevent fungus from growing and spreading. Plus, it helps by alkalizing pH level of the skin.
- Mix two parts baking soda and one part warm water to make a paste. Apply the paste on the infected toenail using a cotton ball. Leave it on for about 20 minutes and then rinse it off. Repeat twice a day for about a month.
- Combine four tablespoons of baking soda, one cup of white vinegar and two to three cups of lukewarm water. Soak your feet in this solution for 15 minutes, and then pat dry with paper towels. Do this twice a day for at least one month.
You can also sprinkle a little baking soda in your shoes and let it sit overnight. Dump the powder out in the morning before wearing your shoes. It will prevent the fungi from attacking your toenails and also absorb the smelly odors.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antifungal as well as antiseptic properties that help kill the fungus infecting your toenail.
- Clean the infected nail with rubbing alcohol. Then apply a few drops of tea tree oil on it. Do this at least once a day for about a month.
- Alternatively, put four or five drops of tea tree oil in a small tub filled with lukewarm water. Soak your feet in the solution for 15 minutes, and then pat dry thoroughly. Do this twice daily for a month.
- Break a vitamin E capsule and mix the contents with a little tea tree oil. Rub the mixture on the infected toenail. Leave it on for half an hour. Then rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. Do this twice a day for a month.
4. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil has antiseptic as well as antifungal properties that help treat toenail fungus.
- Mix four to five drops of oregano oil in two teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Use a cotton ball to apply the solution on the infected toenail.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes.
- Use a toothbrush to gently scrub away the uppermost layer of the nail. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
- Follow this remedy at least once daily for three weeks.
Garlic contains the antifungal compound known as ajoene, which is very effective against toenail fungus.
- Finely crush seven to eight garlic cloves and add them to a foot bath filled with lukewarm water. Soak the infected area in the solution for half an hour. Pat dry and then apply some petroleum jelly on the infected toenail. Do this once daily until you get rid of the fungus completely.
- Alternatively, mix two to three freshly crushed garlic cloves with olive oil. Rub the mixture on the affected area with a cotton ball. To keep the mixture in place, wrap the infected toenail with a gauze bandage. Keep it on for several hours and then rinse with lukewarm water. Follow this remedy once or twice daily for several weeks.
- Also, try to eat one or two cloves of fresh garlic daily. This will make it difficult for the fungus to survive and spread.
Listerine has antiseptic properties that help fight toenail fungus. Plus, one of the key ingredients in Listerine is thymol, which has antifungal properties that help kill the fungus fast.
- Mix equal amounts of Listerine and apple cider vinegar.
- Soak a thick pad of cotton in the solution and place it over the infected toenail.
- Wrap it with a small bandage or tape to keep the cotton pad in place. Leave it on for about 45 minutes.
- Then gently scrub the toenail with a soft toothbrush.
- Follow this remedy once daily for about a month to get rid of the infection completely.
Turmeric has strong antiseptic properties that can treat toenail fungus and prevent the infection from recurring.
- Grind dry turmeric root into powder form.
- Mix one tablespoon of the turmeric powder with a little water to make a thick paste.
- Apply the paste on the affected toenail.
- Leave it on for two to three hours. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water and dry your toenail thoroughly.
- Follow this remedy twice daily until you get rid of the infection.
8. Indian Lilac
Indian Lilac, also known as neem, can be used to treat different types of fungus infections, including toenail fungus. It has antifungal as well as antiseptic properties that can treat as well prevent the fungus from spreading.
- Grind a handful of neem leaves with a little water to make a paste. Add one teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Apply the paste on the affected area and leave it on for one hour. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry the area thoroughly. Follow this remedy twice daily until the infection has cleared.
- Alternatively, you can use neem oil. Soak a cotton ball in neem oil and apply it on the infected toenail. Do this two times a day for at least one month to see good results.
Onion has antifungal qualities that can effectively kill the fungus responsible for this kind of infection.
- Cut an onion into thick slices and gently rub them on the affected toenail for five minutes. Leave the onion extract on the toenail for at least 20 minutes. Then wash the area with lukewarm water and dry it thoroughly. Follow this simple treatment twice daily to see quick improvement.
- Alternatively, crush some onion pieces to extract its juice. Apply the juice on the infected toenail with a cotton ball and secure it with a bandage or tape. Leave it on for one hour and then wash it off with lukewarm water and pat dry. Use this simple treatment twice daily for two months to ensure that the infection does not recur.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids that work as natural fungicides to effectively kill the fungus causing the toenail infection.
- Take a little bit of extra-virgin coconut oil and rub it gently on the affected toenail. Let it absorb and dry naturally. Repeat two or three times daily until the infection clears up.
- Mix five parts of coconut oil and one part of oregano oil. Massage some of the solution into the infected nail. Leave it on for 10 minutes. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat dry thoroughly. Do this twice a day for at least four weeks.
Remember that you must use these remedies consistently for the treatment to work. Also, keep your nails short by trimming and filing them every week.