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Toe fungus is a disgusting yet common condition that most people will encounter at least once in their lives. Medically, doctors refer to toenail fungus as onychomycosis and consider it to be an infection of the toenail by harmful fungus. Affected toenails turn a characteristically green hue while smelling bad.
Though it may not be up to you whether or not you get a fungi nail, in this article, we’ll explain to you everything you’d want to know about mycotic nails and show you the best toenail fungus treatment. If you’ve never suffered from this particular toenails disease, read on anyway in case you accidentally pick up a few spores accidentally.
What is Onychomycosis
Onychomycosis is simply the medical term for nail fungus, but it entails a bit more than casual spore growth. Onychomycosis is the process of foreign fungi shacking up underneath a nail and then slowly eating it to feed the fungi’s growth.
As a byproduct of the fungi’s growth and metabolism, pathogens excrete, causing discoloration and damage to the nail.
Minor toenail fungus appears as a slight discoloration of the nail and a faintly bleach-like odor. As the fungus continues to grow, the fungal growth weakens the nail and causes further discoloration and odors. Eventually, the nail turns black and is degraded even more.
Toenail fungus won’t go away on its own because your body’s immune system can’t access your nails to fight off the infection. To avoid losing toenails to fungus, you’ll have to apply a fungal nail treatment.
So, what’s the best way to treat toenail fungus?
The bad news is that there is no singular toenail fungus cure. Removing a fungal growth from under a nail doesn’t provide any resistance to future fungal colonies establishing themselves regardless of the method.
Thankfully, you’re not powerless in the face of onychomycosis. There are a variety of nail fungus cures, each with certain benefits and drawbacks. There’s also a substantial amount of sham treatments floating around on the internet that won’t be the best treatment for nail fungus.
So, which are the toenail fungus treatments that work?
Over the Counter Drugs
Nail fungus medications aren’t the best toenail fungus treatment, but they’re likely your first line of defense once you suspect nail fungus has taken root.
The best fungal nail treatments that you can buy over the counter don’t boast high success rates, and often require a very long treatment course before you can expect results. The evidence says that over the counter drugs are better than doing nothing when it comes to the best remedy for nail fungus.
Expect a long course of treatment and a few different medications before the fungi are finally defeated.
Prescription medications are likely the best toenail fungus treatment, but they’re also the most expensive and the most time consuming to acquire.
All of the prescription medications that treat toe fungus are antifungal agents. These antifungal agents range from orally consumed drugs to nail paints. Some of these orally consumed antifungal agents can have detrimental side effects which tend to bother those who are afflicted.
Though prescription medications are the best toenail fungus cure, they’re hardly perfect. Aside from the price, time, and side effects, even prescription medications suffer from recurrence of toenail fungus after the initial treatment.
Thanks to modern technology, it’s possible to burn fungi off of your nails using a laser. The idea is that by using a laser, the patient doesn’t have to take drugs that might make them sick, nor do they need to go through the trouble of taking medications for an extended course of treatment.
The problem with laser therapy is that it isn’t always effective, and hasn’t been supported well by controlled studies. Despite the precision of the laser, fungal spores are notoriously hardy and can hide in many crenellations in the nail bed that the laser can’t reach without burning the patient’s skin.
Laser therapy is also expensive, and not easily accessible. Laser therapy isn’t the best fungus treatment for toenails.
Sometimes, natural toenail fungus treatments are best. Home remedies for toenail fungus won’t always work, but they do have a few advantages which the other treatments don’t have.
First, home remedies allow you to change the chemical environment of your toe in a way that other treatments don’t. Using a natural remedy for toenail fungus will also be less expensive than the other methods.
Finally, using a toenail fungus home remedy means that you can potentially combine multiple treatments at once and increase your chances of knocking the fungi out.
The 12 Most Effective Home Remedies
So, which of the nail fungus home remedies are the best toenail fungus treatment, and how should they be used?
Each of the natural toenail fungus cures that we’ll discuss in a moment has a different protocol that you’ll need to follow if you want them to provide relief. If one of the remedies doesn’t work for you, stick with it for a while and then try another.
It’s safe to combine these with each other, so if you get partial results from two separate treatments, try adding them together for a better effect.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a great treatment, but it takes a bit of work to implement properly. First, remove any dead nails and clean them with soap and water. Next, soak a cotton ball with a few drops of oil, and scrub the nails for a few minutes as deeply into the nails as possible.
Finally, let the nails dry for a while, then repeat the process for 20 minutes.
Olive Leaf Extract
When taken orally, olive leaf extract can be an effective way to combat nail fungus. Be sure to read up on how much to take and how to phase in your supplementation, however. It’s possible to get sick if you don’t consume the extract safely.
Make a cornmeal soak with one cup of cornmeal and a few quarts of warm water. Soak your afflicted feet for half an hour, then wash it off with soap and water.
The acidity of orange oil makes for an effective antifungal agent. Make a 1 part orange oil to 10 parts water solution, and apply a few drops of it to the afflicted toes via a cotton ball like with the tea tree oil.
Baking Soda and Sodium Borate
Make a paste of one part baking soda, one part borax, and one part water by volume. Apply it using a cotton ball, let it set for 10 minutes, then wash it off with soap and water. Repeat the process once a day for a week, and you’ll be fungi free.
Apple Cider Vinegar
In keeping with the other acidic solutions on this list, apple cider vinegar is one of the best toenail fungus treatments. Apple cider vinegar will disrupt the pH of the toenail, disrupting the fungi’s ability to survive. Make a foot bath that’s half water, and half apple cider vinegar.
Let your feet soak for 30 minutes once and only once per day for up to a week to kill off the fungi.
Oregano is a minor fungicide, and the concentrated oil of oregano is too. Pop a couple of drops of oregano oil into a table spoon’s worth of olive oil, then dab the afflicted nails with a cotton ball. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then wash it off.
It might seem strange that another microorganism could be one of the best treatments for toenail fungus, but probiotics may do the trick where other treatments fail.
Start consuming probiotic foods like kefir or sauerkraut once per day for a few weeks—one or two servings should do the trick. Once the beneficial bacteria take root, they’ll out-compete the fungi and smother them.
Lavender oil might be better at masking the smell of toenail fungus than the other home remedies, but it’s quite expensive. Once again, just put a couple of drops of the oil on a cotton ball and apply it. You don’t have to wash it off immediately.
Vapor rub might be effective against some kinds of fungi but not others, so it’s probably not the best nail fungus treatment. If you’re still interested in trying out vapor rub, simply apply a thimble’s worth of the rub to the afflicted nail every night for a week.
Like the other acidic substances on this list, urea paste is a stinky yet effective way of messing up the fungi’s microenvironment by altering the pH. Apply a very small amount of paste to the worst affected parts of the nail, let it sit for 15 minutes, then brush it off gently—it should take some fungi with it.
Snakeroot extract might be as effective as some prescription medications when it comes to fighting nail fungus. Drip a few drops of the extract onto a cotton ball, and rub it over the afflicted nails. Don’t remove the extract; it’ll come off in the shower.
Remember, natural remedies are cheaper, but you’ll probably need to try more than one before your nail fungi abate. When in doubt, ask your doctor about prescription medication options if your home remedies aren’t getting the job done.