Toenail fungus is a common issue that can affect anyone, from people who work indoors, athletes, kids, and adults. Even though nail fungus is more common than you might think, there’s good news – you can prevent and treat nail fungus through a few healthy habits and some home remedies.
What is Nail Fungus?
Nail fungus is also called onychomycosis, is a pretty common kind of body fungus that can affect both your finger and toenails. Nail fungus is easy to spot by its characteristic yellow or whitish color; most nail fungus conditions begin as a single spot beneath your finger or toenails.
Over time, the fungal infection can develop and eat into the keratin – a protein similar to collagen – of your finger and toenails. Nail fungus can affect more than one nail at the same time, so it’s important to treat infected nails when you see them, as well as practice some good habits to prevent it from affecting you in the first place.
Additionally, lots of people think that toenail fungus is the same thing as athlete’s foot (also known as tinea pedis) but the latter condition is actually a separate type of fungus that can affect the skin between your toes. It’s not the same kind of fungus that develops beneath your toe or fingernails. A few different types of fungus and bacterial infections include dermatophytes, Candida onychomycosis, and cellulitis.
Risk Factors of Toenail Fungus
If you don’t know if you are at risk, here are some risk factors to help you evaluate:
- Weakened immune system; you may be more likely to develop infected nail beds over time. You may be at higher risk if you already have an athlete’s foot or nail bed injury.
- History of athlete’s foot
- Increased amounts of sweating
- Not wearing shoes
- Nail Bed injuries
- Older aged adults
Symptoms of Nail Fungus
Not sure if you have nail fungus or if the skin under your nails is just bruised or dirty? Check for these symptoms:
- Nails that thicken over time
- White and yellowish discoloration
- Distorted (i.e. bent or curved) nail shape
- Brittle nail plate
- Dark colors or discolored appearance
- A foul smell
- Ringworm of the nail bed
Overall, toenail fungus is usually more common in toenails than fingernails since it’s easier for your feet to get dirty enough to allow the bacterial fungus to grow.
How to Prevent Nail Fungus
There are many ways to manage bacterial nail fungus through holistic and home remedies. Here are a few treatment options that can help:
Keep Clean Nails
For starters, always make sure that you wash your hands and feet pretty regularly. Keeping your hands and feet clean will prevent dirt and bacteria from gunking up underneath your nails. This is especially important if your hands touch an infected surface.
Wear Breathable Shoes
Lots of people can get nail fungus under their toenails because they wear shoes that are too tight or that make their feet sweat. You can avoid this by wearing breathable shoes made with materials like mesh, or just wearing shoes that have a little wiggle room for your toes.
Preventing over sweating or crushing your feet in tight shoes will go a long way toward keeping your feet comfortable and avoiding a moist, warm environment for fungus to grow in.
Similarly, don’t wear socks that are too tight (and please don’t wear the same socks twice in a row – yuck).
Trim Nails Regularly
By the same token is keeping your hands and feet clean, try to trim your nails regularly and properly. When using clippers for your finger and toenails, trim them straight across so they don’t produce any jagged edges and so you don’t give yourself ingrown nails (ouch!). Infected nails can begin with the cuticle, so be sure to cut your cuticles as well.
It may also be a good idea to smooth the edges of your freshly trimmed nails down with a file or file down any thicker than average areas.
If you have nail fungus or infected nail beds, pedicures at a nail salon can help with keeping your nails tidy but won’t make an existing infection disappear.
Visit a Dermatology or Podiatry Healthcare Practice
If you suspect you have developed a skin condition such as fungal growth that has affected your nail beds, a dermatologist or podiatrist may be needed to help. In some cases over-the-counter treatment or topical may be needed to help the affected nail. Topicals help stop the growth of nail fungus or candida. Topical treatments may be recommended by a dermatologist. If you experience any side effects to any treatment options, see your doctor to prevent any severe cases or worsening of the fungus. Check with your dermatologist or podiatrist on what the best treatment options are for you.
Always Wear Footwear in Public Areas
Don’t go barefoot in any public areas, such as locker rooms or swimming pools. These are breeding grounds for foot bacteria and it’s all too easy for bacteria to get under your toenails if you don’t wear shoes.
Already Have Nail Fungus? Here’s How to Treat it Fast
But what if you’ve tried your best and nail fungus is still giving you a hard time? Not to worry. There are several easy remedies you can use to treat nail fungus quickly.
Tea Tree Oil
Try tea tree oil for a holistic and organic solution. Tea tree oil is used for a variety of ailments thanks to its antiseptic and antifungal properties. Just paint your toes or fingernails twice daily with a cotton swab soaked in tea tree oil.
Colloidal silver is another great choice. It’s an effective antifungal and antibacterial that comes from the properties of silver. By spraying colloidal silver to any fungus-infected in the morning and night daily, you should see improvements in a short period of time.
This is a great addition to your wellness cabinet. It can be used to support and reduce symptoms of bacterial infections, sinuses, sore throat, styes, rashes, fungus, viruses, eye and skin infection, swollen lymph nodes, UTI, etc.
Be sure the silver is colloidal silver and not ionic silver. Colloidal has the silver as a part of the structure of water where ionic is just silver ions by themselves suspended in water. Not only is ionic ineffective but can be harmful. Silver serum is a great colloidal option that comes in a convenient spray bottle.
Oregano oil may be a good nail fungus treatment since it contains thymol: an antifungal and antibacterial compound that can kill nail fungus effectively. As with tea tree oil, apply oregano oil to any affected areas twice per day with a cotton swab or ingest it orally. You can even combine both of these oils together for maximum potency.
Try hydrogen peroxide, which can quickly kill any fungus that grows on your toenails. Mix 1/8 of a cup of hydrogen peroxide with 4 cups of water and soak your feet in the mixture for between 10 and 20 minutes for maximum effect.
Apple cider vinegar is something of a superfood. It can treat toenail fungus thanks to its vinegar content, which is antifungal and slightly acidic. Mix apple cider vinegar with water and apply it to any affected areas for about 20 minutes each day.
Black tea provides tannic acid, which can dry out your feet and kill bacteria, as well as close the pores of your feet to reduce any sweating. Add 5 to 6 tea bags to 2 quarts of boiled water, then let the water cool before soaking your feet in the solution.
Baking Soda Soak
Make yourself a baking soda soak by mixing baking soda with warm water. The resulting paste material should be applied directly to your finger or toenails and allowed to sit for between 10 and 20 minutes. Then rinse the affected area with warm water and thoroughly dry your foot. The baking soda will burn away the fungus and feel pleasant at the same time.
Cornmeal has long been used as a way to banish black-spot fungal disease from roses, so it must have some sort of antifungal activity. It is a cheap and easy solution for toenail fungus.
To make the cornmeal soak, put about an inch of cornmeal in a shallow container that will just fit the affected foot. Carefully pour about an inch of warm (not hot) water on top of the cornmeal and let it sit for an hour, so the water and cornmeal can combine naturally. After an hour, add enough additional warm water to cover the foot and soak for an hour.
The mush must cover the whole area, not just the toenails, because fungus thrives everywhere on the toes, especially between them. After an hour, rinse the mush off with warm water and pat the foot dry with a clean towel. Soak the toenails once a week until the fungus clears up. Powdered cornmeal may be sprinkled in shoes and socks during the day as well.
Ultimately, there are plenty of great ways to treat nail fungus if you are unlucky enough to contract it. Fortunately, any of the above remedies should help to resolve the issue quickly, letting you get back to your daily routine in no time!
Dr. Livingood, yes that is his real name, is the Founder of drlivingood.com natural health site and also the founder of Livingood Daily. He has authored two Amazon #1 Best Selling Books Livingood Daily and Make Food Simple. In 2007 after nearly losing his father to health conditions, Dr. Livingood was prompted to find a health care system to save his father’s life. Where medicine failed Dr. Livingood discovered solutions that got his father off 15 medications and overcame major heart and autoimmune conditions. As a Doctor of Natural Medicine and DC he now serves thousands of people in Morrisville, NC, and millions through his online and media presence. Dr. Livingood, his wife Jessica, and three kids spend their lives leading people nationally and locally in the hopes that others can experience real health.