Have you noticed that your toenails have started looking a little funky lately? Are they brown, yellow, brittle, or chalky? Have they started developing cracks or seemingly gotten thicker than they used to be? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have developed a toenail fungus. Don’t panic! Even though it may be unsightly and a little uncomfortable, there are ways to eradicate this fungus restore your sandal-wearing confidence.
What causes toenail fungus?
When you get a crack in the skin of your feet or in your nails, you are now susceptible to a fungal infection that can enter through these access points. Fungus thrives in a moist environment, which is why so many people struggle with foot and toenail fungal infections, as constant sock and shoe wearing leads to moisture buildup and creates the perfect storm for the fungal infection to take hold.
While it may not seem like such a big deal when your nail is just a little discolored, leaving fungus alone will just cause it to spread to other nails, your feet, and other parts of your body. It is imperative that you take proactive steps to deal with it as soon as you notice signs of a fungal infection.
Remedies for toenail fungus
Tea tree oil
If you are familiar with the properties of tea tree oil, this probably doesn’t come as a shock to you. It is a known antiseptic agent and has drying properties that can help battle the moisture buildup that leads to a fungal infection. Tea tree oil also has antifungal capabilities and has been studied as a possible remedy for toenail fungus. Simply dip a cotton swab in a bottle of pure tea tree oil and paint onto affected nails 2-3 times per day.
Vinegar has been found to slow the spread of certain types of fungus and is often used as a natural treatment for athletes’ foot. It can also be used to eradicate toenail fungus. Make a foot soak of two parts water to one part vinegar and soak your feet for about 20 minutes each day. Add an essential oil such as peppermint or tea tree to help combat the vinegar scent and add extra antibacterial power. Be sure to dry feet and nails thoroughly after soaking.
Though you may think that Vicks VapoRub is only good for alleviating congestion when you are sick, it has two active ingredients, camphor and eucalyptus oil that could actually combat toenail fungus. In fact, it is one of the most popular home remedies to get rid of this pesky fungus. Apply some on the affected nails each night before bed and cover with a sock.
How to prevent it
Wear breathable shoes
Moist environments are a breeding ground for toenail fungus so even though those stuffy dress shoes might look snazzy, they could actually be causing your feet to suffer. Choose breathable, comfortable shoes with mesh sides another material that allows air to circulate.
Don’t forget shower shoes
While going barefoot in nature is an incredible idea, there are certain locations where it’s best to keep your feet protected from the ground. Any communal areas such as gym showers, locker rooms, or indoor pools are exposed to hundreds of bare feet each day and the fungi from those feet linger on the ground for days. Wear crocs, flip-flops, or other fast-drying shoes to minimize exposure.
Alternate your shoes
While most people have a favorite pair of work shoes that they slip on every day, this isn’t the best practice if you struggle with any sort of foot fungus. Throughout the day, your shoes build up moisture on the inside and if you don’t give your shoes time to dry after wearing them, you are placing your foot in a potentially compromising environment. Have at least two pairs of shoes that you rotate between on a daily basis in order to allow your shoes to dry completely.
Adjust your diet
Many people don’t realize that issues such as fungus really start from the inside. If you aren’t eating a quality, whole foods diet, you are potentially harming your whole system and leaving yourself vulnerable to fungus and other bacterial attacks. Add probiotic-rich food to your menu such as greek yogurt and kombucha and be sure to consume an adequate amount of iron and protein for healthy nails and hair.
Other ways to prevent toenail and foot fungus:
- Take care of your nails
- Prevent injury
- Inspect nails regularly
- Know how to cut your toenails properly
- Disinfect shoe and shower frequently
- Sprinkle shoes with anti-fungal powder
- Change your socks if they get sweaty during the day
Note: Many doctors prescribe oral antifungals to combat toenail fungus; however, these drugs can cause a number of side effects and should only be used as a last resort after natural options have been exhausted. If your toenail fungus doesn’t go away after home treatment or causes pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
-The Backyard Garden Team