Toenail fungus is one of the most common foot problems that people get, and while it is unsightly, it is rarely serious. Often, people turn to home remedies in cases of annoying conditions like toenail fungus, and while there is anecdotal evidence that such treatments are effective, there is little scientific evidence to back it up. Still, most agree that there is no harm in trying these remedies, and if they work, that's great. Here are 6 home remedies to toenail fungus that are worth a try.
There is some evidence that vinegar is effective at killing toenail fungus, though it will take some time (often several weeks or more). The acidity of the vinegar kills the fungus, but because the fungus lives under the nail, reaching it can be tough. However, since those who get toenail fungus are also prone to athlete's foot, this remedy can help with both conditions.
Add one part of vinegar to two parts water and soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. This can be done daily, though some people find that the acidity can irritate skin. If this happens, cut back to 2-3 times per week. This can be followed up with one of the other treatments on this list for extra effectiveness.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is the oil derived from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree. This is not to be confused with the plants that are used to make green and black tea. It is highly antibacterial and antifungal and is used in a wide variety of topical applications from dandruff shampoo to acne medications.
Because of its antifungal properties, tea tree oil has been shown to be effective at treating toenail fungus. In fact, it is found to be about as effective as the allopathic remedies used by doctors. It is applied directly to the nail at full strength twice daily for about six months.
Oregano Oil has some of the same properties as tea tree oil and it is also effective at treating toenail fungus. The oil comes from a specific type of oregano that seems to have more of the beneficial chemical compounds than the type used in most culinary settings.
Oregano oil can be used the same way that tea tree oil is used, but it's important to be aware that oregano oil has a very strong smell that can be off putting to some.
It may seem silly, but Listerine mouth wash is purported to clear up toe nail fungus for some. The reason is that Listerine contains ingredients like menthol, alcohol, thymol and eucalyptol, all of which have been shown to kill fungus. However Listerine also contains water, which dilutes these ingredients, so people often combine the Listerine with alcohol or vinegar to increase its anti-fungal powers.
There is no hard and fast rule for this remedy. Some say to use Listerine as a foot soak, while others say to mix it in a 1:1 ration with vinegar and soak the affected nail. This is one that people will have to experiment with to find out what works for them, although like many other treatments, it may not work for everyone.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
This product is the extract of grapefruit seeds and it is a very powerful disinfectant, effective against viruses, bacteria and fungi. It comes in pill form as well as in a liquid gel form. Both can be used to treat toenail fungus. Simply take the pills orally and apply the gel topically.
Grapefruit seed extract in its gel form can be applied right on the affected toenail several times a day. It can also be taken internally to combat the fungus from the inside. While the gel can be taken internally, it is extremely bitter so it's best to stick to the pills for internal use.
Also it's important not to confuse grapefruit seed extract with grape seed extract. Both are often sold under the abbreviation GSE, but in this instance, the remedy calls for grapefruit seed extract.
Over-the-Counter Anti-Fungal Medications
There are several anti-fungal medications available over-the-counter at pharmacies and discount stores that are supposed to be effective at treating fungus. However the effectiveness of these treatments seems to vary based on how closely the directions are followed and most state right on the label that they are not intended for nail fungus.
Most come in a small bottle that brush on like nail polish. However, they are typically not strong enough to penetrate into the thickened nail. So in order for them to work, the top layers of the nail must be filed off so that the medication can penetrate deeper.
Many of these home remedies can be combined for greater effectiveness, but it's important to be sure what the problem is before beginning treatment. For those who are unsure as to what the problem is, they shouldn’t just guess that it's toenail fungus, they should consult a doctor. Also, as mentioned above, these remedies will be much more effective if the top layers of the nail are filed down so that the remedy can get deeper into the nail. Even then, be patient. Treating toenail fungus is a slow process, but rest assured, it will eventually clear up. And, if all else fails, see your doctor.