Natural Ways To Deal With Nail Fungus
Fight the funk.
This article was written by Hallie Levine and provided by our partners at Prevention.
That pedicure you shelled out big bucks for may have left you with an unwelcome gift: onychomycosis, otherwise known as nail fungus. Or maybe its a souvenir from the shared showers at your gym or your barefoot walks around the public pool. Although it starts innocuously enough, as a white or yellow spot underneath your finger or toenail, your nail can start to thicken and even crumble as the fungus penetrates deeper and deeper. Ick. And fungus is more likely to appear and persist in your toenails because your tootsies are often confined in the warm, moist environment of your shoes, where these little buggers can thrive.
If you see a dermatologist, youll most likely get a prescription for an antifungal oral medication such as Lamisil or Sporanox, which tend to be expensive, dont always work, and carry side effects ranging from skin rashes to potentially toxic liver damage. Thats not pleasant, which is why so many people look for a drug-free alternative, says Joe Graedon, a pharmacologist at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at Chapel Hill and author of The Peoples Pharmacy. There are newer topical treatments, such as Kerydin, but they also require a prescription and can take up to a year to work. Here are some of Graedons top drug-free remedies for toenail fungus.
Home Remedies For Fingernail Fungus Infection
Fingernail fungus is very itchy and irritating, and in some cases, this can lead to the feeling of pain on skin. It was also widely known as the result of sensitive and dry skin,caused by the skin water deficiency and can sometimes even cause skin redness. The situation can turn to be painful, embarrassing, and all-around nasty rapidly. Thus, you will need to take extra care while treating this problem. In fact, this infection can happen on both your toenails and fingernails and can cover around 6-8% of all adult population.
Stop This Skin Infection In Its Tracks With These Over
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Toenail fungus is a common fungal condition that often starts after a rash on the foot spreads to the nails. When mild, it looks like white and yellow spots growing under the nail beds. But if left untreated, the fungus can grow severely by hardening the nails and spreading to other toes.
The fungus often begins in the form of athletes foot between the toes or on the soles of the feet. At this stage, the fungal infection is easier to treat with over-the-counter medication. But Shari Lipner, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medicine, told Verywell Health toenail fungus can be difficult to treat because of how slow the nails grow. The more severe the toenail fungus, the thicker the nail, and the more nails involved makes it that much harder to treat the nails even with effective therapies, she says.
Diagnosing the fungal infection early is key to make treatments effective. Dr. Lipner recommends visiting a board-certified dermatologist to properly treat the infection if it grows to be too severe.
Here are a few of the best over-the-counter toenail fungus treatments on the market.
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Tea Tree Oil For A Fungal Skin Infection
Tea tree oil is a natural anti-fungal agent that also prevents the fungus from propagating to other areas of the body. A study published in Skin Pharmacology supports this claim and suggests that tea tree oil can even be helpful for problems like dandruff.
- Dilute it in water , and apply it topically, massaging it into the affected area.
06 May, 2021
How Is It Diagnosed
A medical professional can diagnose tinea using several different methods. One is by using a Woods lamp. When this lamp shines on certain fungi, the fungus shines a different color or brightness than the rest of your skin.
Your doctor may examine scales from the infected area under a microscope to diagnose tinea. Another way to diagnose the condition is to take a culture of a sample of the infected skin. A culture is usually only done if your doctor thinks your tinea will require oral medication.
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What Are Different Types Of Skin Rashes
The medical name for a fungal skin infection is tinea. Types of fungal infections include:
- Athletes foot : The most common type of fungal infection, this condition often spreads when people walk barefoot in public bathrooms or locker rooms. The skin between your toes turns white and starts to peel. Athletes foot can also affect the soles of the feet.
- Nail fungus : This infection is a common foot problem. It usually affects the toenails, which become yellow and thick and break easily.
- Jock itch : A rash of the groin area, jock itch affects more men than women.
- Scalp ringworm : This rash occurs mostly in children. It causes hair loss, but with the right treatment, the hair usually grows back.
- Ringworm : This catch-all term is what healthcare providers call a rash that doesnt fit into any other category. The rash often forms a ring shape.
Soak Your Feet In Vinegar
Heres another pantry item that can deliver optimal results for toenail fungal infections. According to Hayag, applying white vinegar to the fungal-infected areas can prove worthwhile, thanks to its antibacterial properties.
Similar to oregano oil, applying white vinegar topically on fungus-infected toenails has some anecdotal evidence that supports its antibacterial benefits. Soak your foot in one part vinegar to two parts warm water for up to 20 minutes daily, she suggests, saying that this can help with the fungus, help with just the discoloration, or it may not help at all, depending on how your toes react.
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Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Nail Fungus
Although some people may refer to these alternative treatments as quack science, there appears to be a little more to these homemade remedies since many individuals have used them to cure their conditions. However, more research still needs to be conducted on the success rate of home remedies for nail fungus.
Some common and supposedly effective alternative treatments include:
According to Dr. Josh Axe of the Exodus Health Center, apple cidar vinegar not only helps to soothe sunburns, balance pH in the body, manage blood sugar levels, and aid in weight loss, its also an ingredient that contains anti-fungal properties. As such, many sufferers of fungal nail infection have now turned to this healthy food to cure their conditions.
The acidic properties of apple cidar vinegar prevent nail fungus from spreading. At the same time, apple cidar vinegar helps to get rid of dead skin cells while killing bacteria and fungi.
Simply mix it with water in equal parts then soak the infected nails for up to 30 minutes in the solution. Repeat this process daily and pat dry the infected nails after soaking.
Another study conducted by Russian researchers showed that a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide had been instrumental in killing off fungus at the radioactive Chernobyl site.
For this remedy, one should simply apply lemon juice on the infected nail for about 30 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
Treatment Of Fungal Skin Infections
You might not need to see your GP if you need fungal infection treatment. You may be able to get rid of a fungal infection at home with medicines that you can buy over the counter. Your pharmacist will be able to give you advice. But if the condition gets worse or isnt helped by over-the-counter medicines, contact your GP.
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What Causes Fungal Nails And What Are Some Of The Risk Factors
In normal, healthy people, fungal infections of the nails are most commonly caused by fungus that is caught from moist, wet areas. Communal showers, such as those at a gym or swimming pools, are common sources. Going to nail salons that use inadequate sanitization of instruments in addition to living with family members who have fungal nails are also risk factors. Athletes have been proven to be more susceptible to nail fungus. This is presumed to be due to the wearing of tight-fitting, sweaty shoes associated with repetitive trauma to the toenails. Having athletes foot makes it more likely that the fungus will infect your toenails. Repetitive trauma also weakens the nail, which makes the nail more susceptible to fungal infection.
Elderly people and people with certain underlying disease states are also at higher risk. Anything that impairs your immune system can make you prone to getting infected with the fungus. These include conditions such as AIDS, diabetes, cancer, psoriasis, or taking any immunosuppressive medications like steroids.
Simple Home Remedies For Fungal Infections
Many people suffer from fungal infections at least once in their lives. Poor hygiene, humidity, and warm climate are possible causes of fungal infections. Diaper rash, athletes foot, jock itch, and oral thrush are some common fungal infections. Although it goes by the name ringworm, this is not a worm but a fungus, it is also one of the most common types of fungal infections in humans. A reason athletes foot and jock itch are common is due to the moist, damp environment with no fresh air, this allows the fungus that is usually present on almost everyones skin to multiply and grow uncontrollably.
A lot of fungi that cause these infections are already becoming resistant to more aggressive forms of medications. While over-the-counter medicines and antifungal creams are readily available in the market, most fungal infections respond very positively to home remedies. Let us take a look at some of them.
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Who Is At Risk Of A Skin Fungus?
You are more at risk of getting a skin fungus if you:
- are taking steroids
- have a weak immune system caused by HIV/AIDS or cancer
- have had a skin infection in the past
- suffer from high blood sugar levels or uncontrolled diabetes
What Causes A Fungal Rash
When your skin comes into contact with a harmful fungus, the infection can cause the rash to appear. For example, if you borrowed a pair of shoes from someone who had athletes foot, the fungus could come in contact with your foot and infect you. Rashes often pass from person to person or from animal to person by direct contact.
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What Are The Symptoms Of A Fungal Infection
The symptoms of a fungal infection depend on what part of the body is affected. For example:
- A vaginal yeast infection usually causes itching and foul discharge from the vagina.
- A fungal infection on the skin may cause redness, itching, flaking, and swelling.
- A fungal infection in the lungs may cause coughing, fever, chest pain, and muscle aches.
Affects Ears Fingers Nails Toes And Genitals
Fungal infections are some of the most common infections, affecting various parts of the body like, ears, fingers, nails, toes, genitals etc. Nail fungus is one such infection.
Onychomycosis is the name of the type of fungus that causes infection on nails both toenails and fingernails. This infection takes time to develop so you might not notice is initially.
Fungi are always present in your body alongside bacteria. The nail becomes infected when there is an overgrowth of fungus on or under the nail.
This infection is communicable and can spread via direct or indirect contact. For example, if you borrow an infected persons shoes or gloves, you too might catch the infection.
The fungus develops in warm, moist environment. This is why it usually affects toenails rather than fingernails as your feet are mostly covered while you wear shoes which provide the fungus an ideal environment to grow.
Causes and Risk Factors for Nail Fungus
Living or working in a hot, humid environment
Constantly covered feet
Diabetic patients, who have reduced blood circulation in their feet
Direct contact with someone who has nail fungus
Minor cuts or injuries around the nail
Using communal showers or public swimming pools
Sweating a lot, especially in your feet and on your hands
A weak immune system
Medications used to treat toenail fungus include terbinafine and itraconazole . Laser treatment is also available but it is expensive and doesnt guarantee results.
Tea Tree Oil
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How Can You Prevent A Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal nail infections often come back after treatment. It is important to take steps to prevent this.
- Before bed, wash and dry your feet carefully.
- Wear sandals or roomy shoes made of materials that allow moisture to escape. Let shoes dry for 24 hours before you wear them again.
- Wear socks. Change them if your feet get sweaty.
- Do not share nail files or clippers, socks, towels, or other personal items.
- Wear flip-flops or shower sandals in wet public areas, such as locker rooms or showers.
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Who Is At Risk For Developing A Fungal Rash
Anyone can develop a fungal rash. Superficial infections of the skin and nails are cited as the most common form of infection, affecting up to 20-25% of the worlds population at any given time. For example, athletes foot often affects otherwise healthy people. You may have a higher risk for developing a skin rash if you:
- Have a weakened immune system .
- Take long-term or high-dose antibiotics.
- Have excess weight.
- Are pregnant.
What Is Athletes Foot
Athletes foot is caused by exposure to the fungus Tinea pedis. And while its usually associated with athletes and sweaty feet, there are several external and internal conditions that can cause athletes foot. Namely:
- Handling infected towels or walking on infected surfaces
- Wearing tight, damp shoes
- Having a weakened immune system and/or gut flora imbalance
The first two causes are obviously environment-related. However, your susceptibility to any type of fungus has a lot to do with how your immune system is functioning and the state of your bodys bacteria, or flora.
When bad bacteria take over, it becomes easier for the body to become infected and for those infections to spread. You can check out more in the bonus section below on how to balance your inner microflora to help prevent infections like athletes foot.
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Risk Factors Of Toenail Fungus
If you dont know if you are at risk, here are some risk factors to help you evaluate:
- 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 its easier for your feet to get dirty enough to allow the bacterial fungus to grow.
Diagnosis Of Fungal Skin Infections
If you see your GP, theyll ask about your symptoms and examine you. They may also ask about your medical history.
Your GP will usually diagnose a fungal skin infection by looking at your skin and where your rash is if you have one. If your rash looks unusual or has spread, they may take a scrape of skin or nail for testing. They will send this sample to a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.
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Apply Or Consume Garlic
A 2019 study published online indicated that garlic is an antifungal powerhouse, potentially making it a gem for treating toenail fungal infections. It is best to place crushed or chopped garlic on the affected area daily, Hayag says. It is important to take caution when following this remedy, as garlic has the potential to cause chemical burns to the skin. To avoid any burns, theres also the option of taking garlic supplements to see if that might help clear things up.
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Can Ringworm Appear On Hand
Yes, ringworm can appear on the hand and is a form of fungal infection on the hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ringworm is a common infection of the skin and nails. Depending on where it appears on the body, it has a different medical name. If ringworm appears on the hands, it is medically referred to as tinea manuum.18
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