Many factors can contribute to the development of toenail fungus, including an abnormal pH balance on the skin, exposure to moisture, a lowered immune system, sweaty shoes, poor hygiene, and weak circulation. Topical treatments, oral medication, and even surgery help treat and eradicate toenail fungus. However, some can cause adverse side effects that could be worse than the fungus itself, such as swelling of the mouth and face, liver damage, heart problems, diarrhea, and painful blisters. Trying home remedies first can prevent these unsavory and potentially dangerous side effects, but always check with a doctor before relying on natural alternatives.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can treat toenail fungus both topically and orally. To use it topically, mix 1/3 cup of ACV and Epsom salts in two cups of hot water. Allow the mixture to cool until it is comfortable, then soak your feet for 30 minutes up to twice a day. For an oral remedy, mix two tablespoons of ACV with16 oz of warm water. A teaspoon of honey can sweeten the drink.
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive oil extract is believed to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This supplement may also stimulate the immune system, which can help fight off nail fungus. Side effects can include headache and GI discomfort, so it is important to buy from a reputable brand.
Tea Tree Oil
Because of its antiseptic and fungicidal properties, tea tree oil is another at-home treatment option for toenail fungus. Soak nail clippers in rubbing alcohol to sterilize them than cut away any dead nails. After you have removed as much of the dead nail as possible, apply the tea tree oil. Allow it to sit for about ten minutes, being careful to avoid the surrounding skin. You can dilute the tea tree oil with a carrier such as olive or almond oil to ensure you do not react negatively to the potent essential oil. Continue this process two to three times a day. Be patient — this process can take between three and six months to work.
Orange oil is another essential oil that has antifungal properties and may help kill toenail fungus. Using a dropper, squeeze the oil onto the toenails and between the toes. Leave it on for about an hour, or less for sensitive skin. Test an area before applying to the infected location to determine whether the oil needs to be diluted with coconut or olive oil.
Cornmeal contains a harmless fungus that doesn’t hurt your body but is deadly to the infectious fungus Candida. To use this remedy, mix enough cornmeal with water to make a paste into which you can submerge your infected foot, and allow it to soak for 30 minutes or longer. Perform this at-home remedy every other day for about four weeks.
Sodium Borate and Baking Soda
Toenail fungus requires an acidic environment to grow. Sodium borate and baking soda are both alkaline and, when applied to the infected toenail, lower the acidity, preventing the fungus from growing. Together, these two are a powerful natural treatment. Create a paste by mixing equal parts of baking soda and sodium borate with a small amount of water. Massage the mixture onto the infected foot three or four times a week. Continue after the fungus has cleared for about four weeks to keep it from coming back.
Coconut oil contains caprylic acid, which can penetrate the cell walls of Candida and other fungi. Once the coconut oil gets into the cells of the fungus, they lose their protective cell wall and are destroyed. Let your toenail soak in coconut oil for about 15 minutes at a time. It is fine to repeat this process often because coconut oil should not harm your skin. It has many other topical benefits, including moisturizing.
Lavender oil is an ideal at-home treatment for mild cases of toe fungus. Each night, rub a few drops onto the infected area and cover your feet with wool socks. Don’t wear socks with synthetic fibers, as this can worsen the infection by retaining moisture. In the morning, remove your socks and continue about your day. Repeat this process for a few weeks, even if your toenail fungus appears healed, to make sure the infection doesn’t return.
Oregano has antifungal properties that help treat toenail fungus. It is easy to make your own oregano oil from home-grown herbs, but it is also an affordable essential oil available in most stores. Be sure to mix the oregano oil with a bit of carrier oil before applying it to the infected toe. Oregano oil is generally mild and should not cause a lot of side effects.
An imbalance of microflora is one cause of fungal infection. Pair your at-home remedies with a probiotic supplement to help fight toenail fungus and prevent it from recurring. Probiotic supplements have lactobacillus bacteria, which secretes a by-product poisonous to Candida. The supplement also promotes healthy gut bacteria that hinders the spread of parasitic fungi. Use a probiotic that does not contain any sugar or artificial fillers for the best results.