If you’ve noticed your toenails are looking a bit odd (changing colour, crumbly or cracked), it could be a sign of nail fungus. While nail fungus can affect both your fingernails and toenails, it’s much more common in toenails. It’s not pretty, but there are easy and effective home remedies for nail fungus that will help your nails get back to normal. From pastes to foot soaks and direct treatments, using products you probably have in your cupboard, try out these remedies to have your nails back in tip top shape!
What Is Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus is a common fungal infection of the fingernails or toenails that can cause the nail to become discoloured, thick and more likely to crack and break. Infections are more common in toenails than fingernails and become more common as you get older. Nail fungus typically starts as a white or yellow spot on the tip of your fingernail or toenail and as the infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolour, thicken and crumble at the edge. It can also affect several nails. Many types of toenail fungi are contagious. An infected person can spread the fungus to someone else through direct contact and you can also get toenail fungus by touching an infected surface.
8 Signs and Symptoms of Nail Fungus
You may have nail fungus if one or more of your nails are:
2. Whitish to yellow-brown in colour
3. Brittle, crumbly or ragged
4. Distorted in shape
5. A dark colour, caused by debris underneath your nails
6. Smelling slightly foul
7. Cracked or broken in one or more spots
8. Toenail separates from the nail bed (leaving space between the nail and the skin underneath)
What Causes Nail Fungus?
Fungal nail infections can be caused by many different types of fungi (yeasts or molds) that live in the environment. Small cracks in your nails or the surrounding skin can allow these germs to enter your nail and cause an infection. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, so this type of environment can cause them to overpopulate. If you have come into contact with someone who has a fungal infection or come into contact with an infected surface, you can contract it that way as well. If you go to a nail salon for a manicure or pedicure, make sure the staff disinfects the tools. Tools such as nail clippers and emery boards can spread fungal infectious if they’re not sanitized.
7 Home Remedies for Nail Fungus
1. Black Tea
Straight black tea contains tannic acid that dries out the feet, kills bacteria and helps close the foot’s pores to reduce sweating. Boil 8 cups of water and add 5 to 6 black tea bags. Allow the tea to cool and soak your feet for 30 minutes to help treat toenail and foot fungus. You can use this foot soak daily.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can kill fungus that grows on toenails. You can apply hydrogen peroxide directly on the infected toes or toenails with a clean cloth or cotton swab. You can also use hydrogen peroxide in a foot soak. Mix ⅛ cup of hydrogen peroxide to 4 cups of cool water and soak your feet for 10 to 20 minutes. Rinse your feet with warm water and pat dry.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is known for its anti-fungal properties, which make it beneficial if you’re dealing with foot fungus. Its acetic acid component also helps to whiten discoloured toenails and can stop the spread to other toes. Mix 2 parts vinegar with 1 part warm water and soak feet for 20 minutes daily. You can also do a 1:1 ratio if you want a more potent foot soak. Consider adding essential oils like eucalyptus or lavender oil if the smell is too overwhelming.
4. Essential Oils
Speaking of essential oils, many of them have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that can help relieve nail fungus. These include:
- Eucalyptus oil
- Lavender oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Tea tree oil
- Clove oil
- Jasmine oil
- Lemongrass oil
Dilute essential oils with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil before applying them to the skin. You can also add 2 or 3 drops of essential oils to a foot soak or your choice.
5. Baking Soda
Baking soda is another remedy you can try for nail fungus. It can help absorb moisture that can cause nail fungus and since it contains fungistatic properties, it can’t kill fungi but it can prevent them from growing.
You can sprinkle baking soda onto dry feet and put on clean socks so the baking soda can wick away moisture while its healing properties work to prevent further toenail fungus. You can also make a baking soda paste with a minimal amount of water and apply it directly to the foot. Allow it to sit on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes then rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly.
6. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil contains thymol, which has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. To disinfect and treat your nail fungus, apply oregano oil to the affected nail(s) twice daily with a cotton swab- once in the morning and once before going to bed.
Cornmeal has long been used as a way to banish black spot fungus from roses, so it’s believed to have some sort of anti-fungal activity. Make a batter by combining cornmeal with water hot enough to dissolve it into a paste. Let it sit for an hour then use a shallow pan to soak your feet in the paste for an hour. Do this once a week for a month to see results.
If you’ve been hit with dreaded nail fungus, use these home remedies to banish the fungus and get your feet looking pretty for summer.