Toenail fungus is quite common and you should pay attention if your nails appear discolored or thicker than usual.
It’s a common occurrence that can spread if you don’t fix it. Understanding the causes can help you take better care of your feet and cure the fungal infection before it gets worse or spreads.
Toenail fungus is usually not harmful and usually only affects the appearance of the nail. However, it can spread and get worse, so you don’t want to let it spread. It can also lead to other problems if left untreated.
Whether it’s sandal season or not, you don’t want to live with toenail fungus. Fixing it is easier than you might think, and you can try some home remedies before opting for other treatments.
The science behind nail fungus
Nail fungus can enter through cracks or cuts in the nail or skin, getting between the nail and the nail bed. The fungus thrives well on the toes because it can be hot and humid, especially if your feet sweat frequently.
A mold called dermatophyte sometimes causes toenail fungus and survives in the nail’s structural material called keratin. When this is the cause, it is called tinea unguium or onychomycosiswhich causes about 90% of fungal infections.
The fungus is contagious and you can catch it from other people or an infected surface. If you don’t treat it quickly, it can spread to other fingers or nails. You can also spread it to others if you don’t fix it before walking barefoot or making direct contact with others.
A fungal infection can spread
The fungus can infect other areas as well, and once it spreads it goes by many different names, including:
- ringworm (on the skin)
- athlete’s foot (the skin under your toes)
- jock itch (in groin area)
Some of the common ways you can get toenail fungus include:
- walk barefoot in public areas
- contact in a locker room or shower
- walk the perimeters of the pool
7 signs and symptoms of toenail fungus
Knowing what to look for can help eliminate toenail fungus before it spreads. Some of the things to look out for include nails that are:
- thicker than usual
- misshapen or oddly shaped
- easily brittle
- discolored (usually white, brown, or yellow)
- separated from the nail bed
- chalky or cloudy in some areas
Who can get nail fungus?
Anyone can experience toenail fungus, but some are more susceptible than others. Some of the risk factors include:
- being a man (women can understand but not as likely)
- aging, especially over age 60
- have diabetes
- catch athlete’s foot
- a weakened immune system
- to smoke
- spend a lot of time in the water
- hurt the toenail
- poor circulation from peripheral vascular disease
How to cure toenail fungus
Nail treatment is essential to eliminate fungus and prevent future complications. Prescription oral antifungals are common but can cause uncomfortable side effects, including dizziness, upset stomach, and skin problems. Before opting for this solution, you can try natural or home remedies.
Soaking your foot in the vinegar mixture can help treat fungus. Soak your foot for twenty minutes in a mixture of one-third white vinegar and two-thirds warm water.
oil of oregano
Experts indicate that since oregano oil contains thymol, it has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Using it to treat toenail fungus is easy as it only requires you to apply it to the affected area twice a day. Consider using it in a small space first to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction or irritation.
snake root extract
This extract comes from a plant in the sunflower family and has antifungal properties. Studies show that it can be just as effective at treating nail fungus as prescription medications.
olive leaf extract
The substance oleuropein found in olive leaf extract contains antifungal and antimicrobial properties. It also boosts the immune system, helping to fight fungus.
You can use the extract topically, apply it directly to the affected area, or find it in capsule form. If you take one capsule, consider taking it with food and drinking plenty of water.
Tea tree oil (tea tree)
Experts indicate that tea tree oil has antifungal and antiseptic properties that can help treat toenail fungus. Apply it to the affected area twice a day for best results.
Vick Vapo Scrub
This option may seem strange, but experts say it can help treat toenail fungus. Contains camphor and eucalyptus oil that can help treat fungus. Apply to the area once a day to ensure it disappears completely.
Studies show that the garlic it has antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can help treat fungus. You can put minced or crushed garlic on the affected area and leave it there for at least thirty minutes daily.
It may smell bad but it is able to help you to treat nail fungus. You might also consider taking garlic capsules to prevent toe bites.
Change Your Diet If You Have a Yeast Infection Often
Eating a healthy diet can improve your overall health and help fight your yeast infection. Curing or preventing toenail fungus is possible if you consume enough nutrients. Consider eating the following:
- protein for healthy nail growth
- fat acids
- probiotics (often found in yogurt)
- iron to prevent brittle nails
- calcium and vitamin D (see low-fat dairy products)
Visit a doctor who specializes in toenail fungus
A podiatrist (foot doctor) or dermatologist can help you decide on a treatment option if home remedies don’t work for you. Don’t wait too long to see someone before it spreads or causes discomfort.
In some cases, you should see a healthcare professional right away, including in the following situations:
- if you have diabetes
- feeling pain, redness, or pus
- circulation problems
- dealing with a compromised immune system
If you have these problems, the fungus can turn into cellulitis. It is more common in people with diabetes because it can cause foot ulcers or other problems. If you have a weakened immune system or diabetes, consult a professional immediately.
Sometimes toenail fungus can resemble other conditions, including psoriasis. Visiting a dermatologist or podiatrist can help you confirm the problem. They will closely examine the affected area and, if necessary, send samples for laboratory analysis.
nail fungus prevention
Once the toenail fungus is gone, you can work to prevent it from coming back. These ideas include the following:
Keep your feet clean and dry
Good hygiene can make all the difference in preventing toenail fungus. Keep your feet clean and dry and wear socks that help wick away moisture.
Also, wear shoes that keep your feet dry and change your socks and shoes whenever they get wet. Also, wearing shower shoes in public areas can help keep your feet clean.
When washing your feet, use soap and water and then dry your feet thoroughly, especially between your toes. Cut your toenails straight across and make sure your tools are clean and sharp. This way you can ensure that you are not allowing any bacteria close enough to cause a problem.
do not use nail polish
You can cover the discoloration with nail polish, as this can prevent the nail bed from getting the air it needs. The fungus will not go away if the nail bed cannot breathe. Nail polish blocks air from reaching the nail bed and traps moisture, making the infection worse.
Avoid contact with fungi
If you have a family member with toenail fungus, avoid coming into contact with them. It may involve wearing flip flops in the shower, but it will be worth the extra effort.
Do not share shoes with other people
Sharing shoes can spread a yeast infection, so don’t wear someone else’s shoes or let them wear yours. Not sharing shoes is especially important when people don’t wear socks. Since toenail fungus is contagious, it’s best to avoid sharing it altogether.
change shoes regularly
Wearing the same pair of shoes every day increases the risk of nail fungus. You may not notice that your shoes are wet, so it’s best to change them frequently. Having a few pairs allows you to switch between them as needed.
keep your feet covered
You might think going barefoot is fine, especially around the house, but it’s not always safe. If you or a family member has had foot fungus, they may not have cleaned the house as well as they thought. Consider wearing socks or slippers even at home.
Final thoughts on how to get rid of toenail fungus
Using home remedies to cure toenail fungus can make all the difference without resorting to prescription drugs. These methods have fewer side effects and you can fix the problem instead of waiting for an appointment.
Home remedies sometimes take longer and you may not see results as quickly as you would like. If the fungus doesn’t go away, consider speaking to a healthcare professional for advice.
Once you get rid of toenail fungus, look for ways to prevent it from coming back. Prevention can go a long way in keeping you comfortable and avoiding unpleasant issues with a fungal toe infection. You will be happy with your effort when your feet remain in good condition.