Fungal infections, especially infections in the skin are common among people, especially those who work in damp environments. Toenail fungus, which is a type of fungal infection, is a very common infection that affects the toes in your foot. It does affect fingernails sometimes, but it is mostly your toes.
This infection is characterized by the thickening, yellowing and crumbling of your nail(s). It starts off as a small yellow or white spot on your nail, which grows and causes inflammation or swelling of your toe.
Even though it’s considered a common infection, in some cases, it might be the sign of the candida virus or yeast within the system. So, it is better to understand the underlying problem of the infection, so you know how to treat it accordingly.
Toenail fungus, called Onychomycosis or Tinea Unguium is caused by a group of fungi called dermophytes that thrive on the keratin present in your hair and nails. It even feeds off your skin sometimes, which is characterized by infection in the skin between your toes.
This fungus is related to the fungus that causes ringworm, but unlike ringworm, toenail fungus infection is harder to treat. That is because this fungus directly attacks the nail beds of your toes and accumulates and grows there. The fungus is hence protected by your nail, so it’s difficult to apply medicine on the affected part. We can’t get to it easily.
It gets under your nail, grows and slowly discolors your nail. Your nail becomes yellow, white or brown in color because of the accumulated dirt and fungi.
Your nail thickens and hardens and later it might even become brittle and fall off, exposing the skin underneath. If you don’t want to lose your nail, you should get rid of the fungus as soon as you’re diagnosed with the infection, because the infection might not subside for months, or even years if left untreated.
What causes it
Even though toenail fungus is mainly caused by the fungi dermatophyte, it can also be caused by yeast and mold.
It could occur in people of all ages, but it is commonly seen in people of advanced ages. This is because, as your nail ages, it becomes brittle and dry. This causes cracks between your nails through which the fungi can enter your system.
Weakened immune system, diabetes and blood circulation problems, especially in the feet can also cause the infection. If you sweat a lot, you have more chances of picking up the infection than someone who doesn’t. This is because these fungi thrive in damp areas, and your sweaty body will be the perfect host.
Alternately, walking barefoot in public swimming pools, showers and gyms might also cause toenail infection. Public places aren’t disinfected, no matter what we might want to think. So, it is always better to exercise caution.
Though it’s not usually painful in the starting stages, severe toenail fungus can get very painful if left untreated so you might want to look at some home remedies to get rid of this infection.
Home remedies (Toenail fungus killers)
There are many medically approved treatments to get rid of toenail fungus, but they come with a host of side effects. Do you really want to risk dizziness, liver damage or nausea just to get rid of a toe infection?
If you say no, then you might want to choose a home remedy. They do exactly what the medicines do, but without the myriad of side effects that usually accompany consumption of modern medicine.
If you want to get rid of toenail infection, you might want to try certain herbal oils and extracts. Let’s look at some of them now.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is an effective antiseptic so it can be successfully used to treat toenail fungus. Before applying the oil, dab some alcohol on a cotton ball and gently clean the infected area. Then, generously apply the oil on your toenail. Leave it for at least 10 minutes. This gives the oil enough time to get soaked into your nail tissues. Then gently scrub the oil off your nail.
Make sure you use pure tea tree oil. You could mix it with almond or olive oil for enhanced effect. Follow this remedy every day until you get rid of your infection. You might want to continue with the treatment even after, to make sure the infection doesn’t return.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the best cures for toenail fungus. You could mix 2 tablespoons of the liquid with 8 tablespoons of warm water and a teaspoon of honey and drink it as a beverage. Keep consuming the concoction until you see results.
Alternatively, you could mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and salt with hot water (bearable temperature) and soak your feet in the mixture every day.
Fungi thrive in acidic environments. Baking soda is alkaline, so by introducing it into your infected tissues, you are making them uninhabitable to the fungi. You could combine baking soda with Borax (a natural fungicide), to get rid of toenail fungus fast.
Coconut oil contains Caprylic acid which can penetrate the thick walls of the fungi. Without their protective covering, they dissolve into nothing. Apply a thick coating of coconut oil on your toe and let it soak for 15 minutes. Do this every day until you start seeing results.
That’s it. Toenail fungus is a nasty infection that can cause you a lot of pain and discomfort if left untreated. But a couple of ingredients from your kitchen and persistence is all you need to effectively get rid of it forever.