We so love to flaunt our manicured nails and the last thing anyone wants is a nail infection. Nail infection is a fungal infection on one or more nails which usually starts off as a yellow or a white spot under the tip of the nails. As the fungus spreads deeper into the nails, it might cause discoloration of the nails. A fungal infection can turn out to be a potentially painful and an unsightly problem. So it’s always better to prevent fungal infections of the nails, than taking measures after the infection. Many of these can be avoided if proper precautions are taken.
The most common nail infection is onychomycosis, which occurs when the fungi invade a fingernail or a toenail or the skin underneath the nails. It is an infection that usually does not cause pain unless it is left untreated and allowed to spread. Its symptoms include thickening, swelling, inflammation, crumbling as well as yellowing of the nail. If it is not treated immediately, it can lead to splitting, cracking and loss of the nail. In severe cases, the nail lifts away from the bed and will detach itself completely
The fungus that causes the nail infection thrives under the following conditions-
- Abnormality in the skin’s pH levels
- An immune system that has weakened
- Continuous or prolonged exposure of the nail to an environment that is moist
- Poor personal hygiene
Onychomysosis can be passed from person to person, either through direct contact or through contact with commonly used shoes, floors or other personal items like files, cutters. Athlete’s foot can also lead to a fungal infection. Shoes that are tight or moist and do let the air out can lead to fungal infection.
Few Ways In Which Infection Can Be Contracted
- A blow in the nail causing it to lift away from the nail bed, which in turn permits moisture to enter and allows bacteria to breed.
- A poorly applied artificial nail tip encourages germs to breed.
- Salons that have sub-standard products.
- Athlete’s foot that if not treated effectively can also spread to the toenails.
- Using a gymnasium or public swimming pool without any foot protection.
- Nail biting results in rips and tears and bleeding of the skin, allowing the germs to enter that can cause nail bed infection.
- Having a low immune system may also enhance the occurrence of fungal infection.
As mentioned earlier, you need to treat the infection promptly to avoid its spreading. The good news is that treating nail fungus is rather easy. You do not need expensive medications and ointments as there are plenty of home remedies that can be used to effectively and inexpensively treat nail fungus.
Home Remedies To Treat Nail Fungus
Here are some of the best tried-and-tested home remedies for nail fungus that have been used by people all over the world:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
ACD has acidic properties that are mild and known to prevent the spread of nail fungus. It kills fungus and bacteria. What you need to do is take equal parts of water and the apple cider vinegar and soak your infected nail in it for half an hour every day. Once you have soaked, completely dry the nails and foot. Do this until the infection goes away. Apple cider vinegar is one of the best-known home remedy used for nail fungus treatment. This potent treatment has prevented the infection in many people.
[ Read: Home Remedies For Ingrown Toenails ]
2. Rice Flour And Apple Cider Vinegar Scrub
Another effective way to use apple cider vinegar for nail fungus is to mix it with roughly ground rice flour. This gives you an exfoliating scrub that is antifungal. You need to apply the paste and gently scrub the affected nail. Doing this 2 to 3 times a week will help a lot.
3. Tea Tree Oil
This herbal oil has both antifungal and antiseptic properties that are effective in treating nail fungus. All you need to do is mix a few drops of the oil with coconut or olive oil. Take a cotton ball and apply the mixture on the affected nail. Wait for about 10 minutes and gently scrub the nail with a toothbrush. You can do this 2 to3 times a day to get best results.
4. Baking Soda
You can use baking soda to treat nail fungus as well as eliminate foot odor at the same time. All you need is 4 cups of hot water mixed with ½ cup of baking soda, ¼ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide and ½ cup of Epsom salt. Once properly mixed, add ¼ cup of white vinegar. Next, soak the infected nail for about 10 minutes and rinse off with clean water. Do this twice a day for effective results.
5. White Vinegar
Many people recommend white vinegar as a remedy for nail fungus as it helps in fighting the infection and restores the pH balance of the skin. What you need to do is mix 2 parts of warm water with 1 part of white vinegar. Soak the nail in this solution for about 15 minutes, and then rinse off. Make sure that you dry the infected nail properly. You can do this 2 times every day to effectively treat the fungus.
6. Oregano Oil
This oil is known for its efficacy in treating nail fungus. It is because it has analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic and antiparasitic properties. All you need to do is mix a teaspoon of olive oil with a few drops of oregano oil. Apply it to the affected area and leave it on for half an hour. Next, rinse off and make sure that you dry the nail properly. You can do this twice a day for about 3 weeks for best results.
7. Listerine Mouthwash
The alcohol and other compounds present in this mouthwash make it antiseptic, allowing it to keep fungus and bacteria away. Fill a small basin with Listerine and soak your affected nail in it for about half an hour. Gently scrub the nail. Next, rinse off and dry the infected nail thoroughly. You can do this 2 times a day to prevent the infection from spreading. After several weeks, you will start to notice a change in your nail.
8. Listerine Mouthwash And White Vinegar
All you need to do is mix equal parts of white vinegar and the mouthwash. Soak the affected area in it for 30 minutes and scrub the nail gently. Rinse the solution off and dry the affected nail thoroughly. This too can be done 2 times a day to ensure that the infection does not spread. Many people swear by this remedy, so it is a must-try.
9. Garlic Oil
Garlic has compounds like ajoene and allicin, which are known to have strong antifungal properties. Mix equal parts of olive and garlic oils and apply it to the affected nail and the area around it. Use a bandage to cover it and leave it for a couple of hours. Repeat this every day until the infection heals. You should also eat more raw garlic to allow its properties to destroy the fungi from within.
10. Lemon Juice
This juice has antifungal and antiseptic properties. The fruit’s citric acid content will prevent the infection from spreading. All you need to do is apply some fresh lemon juice to the infected nail and leave it on for half an hour or so. Next, rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly. You can do this as many times as you desire in a day. The results will become visible in a couple of weeks.
11. Lemon Juice And Olive Oil
Another home remedy you can try is a solution of lemon juice and olive oil. Mix equal parts of the juice and oil and apply it to the affected nail and gently massage it. Leave the mixture on for a couple of hours before you rinse and dry. The infection will be controlled by the lemon juice while the olive will give you soft and smooth skin.
12. Lavender Oil
This oil has antiseptic properties that are effective in treating infections. It also prevents irritation of the skin. You need 5 drops each of lavender oil and tea tree oil. Use a cotton ball to apply it on the infected nail as well as the area around it. After leaving it on for 10 minutes or so rinse and dry the affected area. You can repeat this 2 to 3 times a day to prevent the infection from spreading and slowly heal it.
13. Orange Oil
Orange oil has powerful antifungal properties, making it ideal for nail fungus treatment. Some people are allergic to orange oil so do a small test by applying it to a small patch of skin first before using it as a remedy. All you need is a dropper to apply the oil on and under your nail and also in between your toes. Leave it on for half an hour and then, rinse and dry. This remedy can be repeated 2 to 3 times every day.
14. Orange Oil And Grape Seed Oil
For those with sensitive skin, you can mix equal parts of orange and grape seed oils to treat nail fungus. Leave the mixture on the affected nail as well as around it for 30 minutes or so. Repeat this twice or thrice a day.
15. White Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil And Vicks Vapor Rub
Every morning and evening, pour some white vinegar on your infected nail and apply tea tree oil. Seal this mixture in with Vicks Vapor Rub. Use this remedy for a few months and you will see that the infection has healed and a new nail will grow soon after.
16. Salt And White Vinegar
This is a simple remedy that will help you immensely to cure your infected nail. Mix the two ingredients together and rub or soak your feet for about 5 minutes. Next, dry the nail. Repeat this method 2 times a day and watch how it helps your nail to fight the fungal infection.
Take 70% isopropyl alcohol and fill a 4-ounce dropper with it. Apply 2 drops of the alcohol to the infected nail every morning and evening. You will feel that the infection has healed after a few months. Many people who suffer from nail fungus prefer this remedy as it is less messy than using vinegar.
18. Vitamin E Oil
This oil is known to effectively heal nail fungus. All you need to do is rub the oil and massage the affected nail gently. Do this every day and you are sure to get great results in a short span of time.
Believe it or not, onions can be an effective remedy for nail fungus. Slice an onion and take one of the slices and gently rub it on your infected nail. Repeat this every day to heal the infection after a couple of months.
20. Turmeric Powder
Turmeric paste can do wonders for treating nail fungus. All that needs to be done is to apply the paste on the affected nail and allow it to dry completely. Once it has dried, rinse it off properly and dry your nail thoroughly to prevent the moisture from worsening the infection.
21. Hydrogen Peroxide
For this remedy, mix equal parts of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide and soak your nail soak in it for about 20 minutes. Next, rinse off the solution from the affected area and dry properly. Repeat this every day for a few months to heal the nail fungus infection.
22. Sea Salt
Sea salt is another effective ingredient for home remedies to treat nail fungus. Soak your feet in a bowl of water and sea salt. Make sure that the salt touches the infected nail. You can soak your feet for as long as you like. Repeat this daily for excellent results. If you live near the sea, go for a dip every day and allow your nail to soak in the salty sea water.
23. Sea Salt And Hydrogen Peroxide
You can also use a sea salt water soak with hydrogen peroxide to treat nail fungus. Soak your nail in the solution for about 10 minutes and then apply some sea salt on it. Leave it on for 3 minutes or so and soak your nail again for about 30 minutes. Repeating this daily will heal the infection soon.
24. Lemongrass Oil
Packed with antibacterial and antifungal properties, lemongrass oil is another effective home remedy for nail fungus. It controls the spread of the infection and also helps in preventing symptoms like crumbling and fragility of nails. You should use this oil with other carrier oils like grapeseed or coconut oil to effectively treat the infection.
25. Coconut Oil
This oil has wonderful healing powers. It is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. Applying coconut oil to the infected nail and gently massaging it daily can help in healing the nail fungus. It will also heal damaged skin and fight free radicals.
This red pepper paste is well-known in the treatment of nail fungus. You can apply the paste to your infected nail and cover with a bandage. Change the bandage every evening after cleaning it, applying some iodine and reapplying the Harisa.
27. Hot Red Pepper Powder And Olive Oil
Another effective home remedy for nail fungus is a mixture of hot red pepper powder and olive oil. It is rather messy but worth it as you will see a significant positive effect on the infection. In time, it will heal and a new nail will grow soon.
28. Hydrogen Peroxide And Bleach
You will need 1 part each of bleach and hydrogen peroxide and 10 parts of water. Soak the affected area in this solution for about 10 to 15 minutes every day. Gradually it will heal the infection.
29. Neem Oil
Neem oil is known for its powerful antifungal properties, which makes it an effective remedy for nail fungus. It will also nourish and moisturize your nail, allowing it to shed its fragile look. Massage the oil gently on the affected nail as well as the surrounding area every day and watch how effectively it treats the nail infection.
Yogurt is a healthy food that is rich in probiotics. This is why it is considered to be an effective remedy for fungal infections, including nail fungus. Include it in your daily diet that will slowly help in preventing the spread of the infection. It will also heal the infection.
31. Tea Tree Oil With Lavender, Cedar Oils And Thyme
This mixture has helped many people suffering from nail fungus. It not only controls and heals the infection but also soothes the area around it, eliminating any discomfort. Massage the affected nail daily and you will notice a significant difference in about 6 weeks.
Chamomile is known for its many powerful properties, especially its ability to calm and sooth the mind. You can also use it to treat nail fungus. Take a used chamomile tea bag and apply it to your infected nail as a poultice. Use this remedy twice or thrice daily to gain positive results. What are you waiting for? Try it today and bid adieu to nail fungus!
33. Olive Leaf Extract
Also known as ‘nature’s antibiotic’, olive leaf extract has properties that allow it to kill any fungus, bacteria, virus, etc. It is considered to be one of the best remedies for nail fungus. It kills the fungus that causes the infection from the inside out, ensuring that your risk of developing it again is minimized significantly. Apart from healing the nail fungus, it will destroy other harmful parasites in your body, making you healthier.
34. Essential Fatty Acids
This much-needed nutrient is a great help when it comes to nail health. You can find fatty acids in fatty fish, evening primrose oil, etc. Add it to your daily diet in the form of foods or supplements that are available in the market. As you increase your intake of fatty acids, your nail fungus will heal and when you grow a new nail, it will be a healthy one.
35. Vicks Vapor Rub
Many people with nail fungus swear by this home remedy. One of the most effective methods to use Vapor Rub is to apply it on your affected nail and cover it with a bandage. Leave it overnight and allow the vapor to be absorbed without any air. This kills the infection-causing fungus more effectively and quickly. It is definitely worth a try.
36. Garlic With Vinegar
Take a few cloves of garlic, crush them nicely and properly and add vinegar to it. Soak the affected nails in the mixture as long as it is easily manageable and possible. You can also eat a few cloves as Garlic has anti-fungal properties.
While home remedies for fungal nail infection are effective, you need to take certain precautions to avoid complications. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind if you are planning to use home remedies to treat your infection.
- While using oils or other solutions, always do a patch test to make sure that you do not get any allergic reactions.
- If you feel like the infection is worse after 2 attempts, try a different home remedy.
- If your skin is sensitive, consult a skin specialist to find out if it is safe for you to use a home remedy for nail fungus.
- Always keep the affected area dry to prevent it from worsening.
- Disinfect the nail clippers and other items you use on your nails to prevent the infection from spreading.
- Consult your doctor and ask questions about what type of foods are best for your diet while you have nail fungus.
- Home remedies take time, so be patient while you are treating nail fungus.
- Do not try to peel off the affected nail. Use clippers to slowly remove the nail as a new one starts to grow.
- The importance of making sure that you dry the affected area properly cannot be emphasized enough as moisture is one of the main causes of nail fungus.
- Make sure that you practice proper personal hygiene to prevent the fungus from thriving.
Tips To Avoid Nail Infection
There are a lot of things you can do to reduce your chances of getting a fungal infection in nails.
- You can reduce the chances of developing a nail infection by maintaining hygiene and keeping your nails short, clean and trimmed. If your nails are particularly thick around the corners, use a nail file to smooth down the edges.
- Dry your nails after getting out of the shower; do make sure you keep your hands and feet dry. Dry skin and nails are less likely to become affected. Apply powder on the hands and feet after every shower.
- Use an antifungal ointment for your hands and feet after washing them thoroughly before going to bed. The best defense against nail infection is to keep your hands clean all the time. You can use anti-fungal sprays, foot powder, and topical lotion apart from the normal hand wash. Thorough hand washing is a must. Make sure you lather till 30 seconds, scrub under your nails and use warm water to clean your nails.
4. Wear The Right Socks And Shoes
- Nail fungus grows in darkness and moisture, so the more you trap moisture inside the socks, the greater the chances of developing nail infection. Wear cotton or woolen socks and avoid wearing synthetic fibers socks.
- Don’t walk barefoot in public places and be careful of any cuts or abrasion as it can collect dirt and debris while you walk on roads. This will lead to infection. Wear dry socks and change them two times a day.
- Take off your shoes whenever possible and your feet breathe easily. If your shoes get wet, or sweaty, let them dry before wearing it. Wear sandals or shoes made of a material that allows moisture to escape and avoid wearing plastic shoes.
- Don’t spend more time in sports shoes. Injury to the tips of toenails may be one of the biggest factors leading to nail infection.
- Choose your shoes carefully. Choose low heels. High heels causes pressure on the front of your foot and can lead to infection.
- Try to find shoes that don’t have a seam inside the shoes so that they don’t damage the toenails. Make sure that the shoes are of your size. If the shoes are smaller than your size, they can damage your nails because the foot moves too much inside the shoe.
- Wear shower shoes when using a pool and let them dry between uses. Don’t share shoes, socks, nail clippers or nail files with anyone.
5. Keep Your Fingers Covered
- Wear water resistant rubber gloves if you are going to expose your hands to excessive moisture.
- Gardening also promotes nail infection as bacteria present in the plants can invade tiny cuts and scratches. Make sure to cover your hands to keep the dirt and bacteria away.
6. Nail Salon
- If you want to get a manicure or pedicure, go to a salon that uses sterile instruments.
- Nail manicure and certain nail products can damage the nail or cuticle, making the nail more susceptible to infection. It’s preferable to get your own nail tools for the manicure session, since this will ensure that you won’t be contaminated with other people’s germs.
- If you already have a fungal infection in one or more nails, do not use nail polish or any other artificial nails to hide nail infection as it can trap unwanted moisture and worsen the situation. As the nail fungus can spread from person to person, wash your hands thoroughly after touching infected nails.
And last but not the least eat a well-balanced diet, rich in minerals and vitamins particularly vitamin A.
Home remedies are a great way to treat nail fungus due to the fact that many of them make use of natural products. Essential oils, herbs, etc., are some of the main ingredients of these remedies. Bleach and hydrogen peroxide are of course included in the list of effective nail fungus home remedies, but you can give them a pass if you prefer to stick exclusively to natural products. Many people have found that natural home remedies have helped more than chemical-filled ointments and lotions prescribed by doctors.
As it is with all the natural remedies, home remedies that are meant for nail fungus can take some time to show results. However, the wait is definitely worth it. Once the infection stops and a new nail grows, it will be a healthy one. You should remember to take proper care of your nails as the infection could recur even after it has been treated. As mentioned above, personal hygiene is important and so is eating proper food. Your diet should contain all the nutrients that help every part of your body, including your nails.
If you suffer from nail fungus, you should definitely try these home remedies. The ingredients are most likely right there in your kitchen! If they are not, you can easily find them in stores. With home remedies, you gain safe and chemical-free treatments. At the same time you can also save a lot of money.
Do you know of any other home remedies for nail fungus? Let us know in the comments section below.
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