Toenail fungus infection usually finds its way into the body through cuts in your skin or cracks in your nail. The infection can thicken your toenail or interfere with its color. Even worse, it can hurt. The warm and damp environment that characterizes toes is the main reason why the fungus tend to thrive well there. Sometimes, they may even be affected by yeast.
If left untreated, the infection can spread to your fingernails skin, as well as your other toenails. Infected toenails are often thicker than normal and may be oddly shaped.
They might look yellow and can break easily. Sometimes white dots show up on the nail and then get bigger. When the infection builds up under your toenail, it can even detach the nail from the bed.
Men are more prone to toenail fungus than women. People who smoke, or have a weak immune system, athlete’s foot, or diabetes, or whose family members have the fungus are also at a higher risk of getting it. Also, if you have injured your toenail or you’ve spend a lot of time in the water, your chance of getting the fungus goes up.
Toenail fungus can be embarrassing and bothersome. It can come and go, usually starting out with small whitish or yellowish spots at the tip of the nail. Eventually, it worsens and the toenail may thicken, become brittle, break easily and layers of the nail may flake off. The nail itself may take on a yellow or white color. While there are medications which help combat nail fungus, there are also natural alternatives which work quite well, and many people seek such remedies. While there are numerous remedies out there, the two that seem to provide the best results are tea tree oil and vinegar.
Tea Tree Oil
Native to Australia, the tea tree's leaves are used to make tea tree oil, used widely as a topical agent. This oil has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. For toenail fungus, simply soak a cotton ball with tea tree oil and press onto the nail while gently rubbing the area. Ensure the oil is evenly spread, and allow to air-dry. Tea tree oil itself may be too strong for sensitive skin, so test a small area first. If irritation occurs, or you just want to be on the safe side, mix it with another oil such as grapeseed, olive, or coconut.
Another way to use tea tree oil is to add a few drops to a small basin of water and soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. Regardless of which method you choose, you should do them two to three times per day.
If tea tree oil isn't your thing, try vinegar. Again, you can apply it directly or soak, although with this method, soaking may work better. Fill a small basin with one part vinegar (white or apple cider) with 2 parts warm water. Soak for about 15 minutes twice daily.
If applying directly, you may want to choose apple cider vinegar, and more specifically, raw unfiltered. This type will have debris floating around in it (which is a good thing!). Apply with a cotton ball to the toenails and let it dry. If irritation occurs, discontinue and try a diluted soak instead.
Both remedies should be started at the earliest signs of toenail fungus, and continued until it has cleared completely. Using them after feet have been in sweaty shoes for a long time is also a good prevention practice.