Mother Earth News Blogs > Natural Health

Natural Health

Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.


6 Top Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

 6 Top Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

Don’t let a toenail infection get the best of you; try these easy and effective home remedies for toenail fungus that will help you get your nails back to normal.

An infection on your toenails can be bothersome and embarrassing. Unfortunately, conventional treatment, which consists of various liquids, lacquers, or other topical or oral medicines often take a long time to work, aren’t effective, and cost a pretty penny. In fact, it seems that even the most effective antifungal medicines have a cure rate of only around 30%.[1,2] But that is no reason to get discouraged; these home remedies for toenail fungus work well, are cost-effective, and use all natural ingredients.

What is toenail fungus?

Nail infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungi, including yeasts and molds. It usually begins with something small, like a white or yellow spot under the nail. Gradually, this spreads deeper into the nail, causing discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nail. It may become painful as the infection worsens. The medical names for toenail fungus include onychomycosis and tinea unguium.

6 Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus

In order to effectively treat a toenail infection, you will need to use antifungal agents. But these don’t have to be prescription or made out of potentially harmful chemicals; a variety of herbs, oils, and other natural substances have antifungal properties of their own.

Baking soda. Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda actually has significant antifungal effects. Laboratory studies show that baking soda is effective against many fungal species that are commonly involved in toenail fungus – in fact it inhibited the growth of 80% of fungal isolates tested in one study.[3] Try making a paste out of water and baking soda and spreading it on your nails. Alternatively, add some baking soda to a bucket of water and do a daily foot soak.

Tea tree oil is a very useful essential oil. It can be used to treat conditions ranging from dandruff to athlete’s foot, including toenail fungus. This essential oil has significant antifungal effects, along with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Nanocapsules of tea tree oil suppress the growth of T. rubrum, one of the more common fungi causing toenail infections.[4] One study found that 100% tea tree oil applied twice-daily for six months was as effective as clotrimazole, an antifungal medication. After six months, 60% of the people in the tea tree oil group experienced partial or full resolution of symptoms.[5] Rub tea tree essential oil directly on the affected area twice daily until symptoms subside.

Ozonized sunflower oil. By reacting ozone (O3) with sunflower oil, you can produce ozonized sunflower oil, which contains compounds with significant medicinal effects. In one study using a product called Oleozon, participants experienced some remarkable improvements with topical application of the ozonized sunflower oil twice per day; 90.5% were cured of their toenail fungus completely. In the control group using ketoconazole (an over the counter medicated cream), only 13.5% were cured. A year later, the Oleozon group had only a 2.8% relapse rate, while 44.4% of the control group had relapsed.[6] Rub a small amount of this oil onto your toes twice daily to treat toenail fungus.

Olive leaf extract. Olive leaves contain many beneficial compounds, including phenolic compounds. Extract from the leaves of olive plants have been shown to have significant antibacterial and antifungal effects, making it a useful tool for fighting toenail fungus.[7,8] Look for the liquid form, and use a small amount to cover your infected toenails multiple times per day.

Coconut oil. Many people use coconut oil to treat toenail fungus. This oil has health-promoting effects ranging form protecting your heart to preventing memory loss. Additionally, coconut oil is a powerful antifungal agent.[9] To help treat your toenail fungus, melt a small amount of coconut oil on your fingertips (it is solid at room temperature) and apply directly to your toes.

Snakeroot extract. The plant Ageratina pichinchensis, commonly known as snakeroot, is highly effective at fighting toenail fungus. In a study on 96 people, a snakeroot formulation was effective in 71.1% of the cases.[10] Look for snakeroot extract itself, or natural toenail fungus formulations that use Ageratina in the ingredients list.

It is also recommended to keep your toenails trimmed and thin if possible. This may relieve some pain by reducing pressure, and it will allow the topical products to penetrate into the nail itself when you apply them. Scraping the top of your nail may also help your remedies to work better, as they will be able to get deeper into the layers of your toenails. Start by doing a daily foot soak with baking soda, then experiment with various essential oils and extracts until you find the one that works best for you. Try combining coconut oil with tea tree oil, for example, to get a two-in-one treatment.

Share your experience

Have you ever had toenail fungus? How did you treat it? What natural strategies worked for you, and which didn’t? Share your experience in the comments section below.

References

[1] Mycoses. 2013 May;56(3):289-96.

[2] Dermatol Clin. 2015 Apr;33(2):175-83.

[3] Mycopathologia. 2013 Feb;175(1-2):153-8.

[4] Mycopathologia. 2013 Apr;175(3-4):281-6.

[5] J Fam Pract. 1994 Jun;38(6):601-5.

[6] Mycoses. 2011 Sep;54(5):e272-7.

[7] Molecules. 2007 May 26;12(5):1153-62.

[8] Pak J Pharm Sci. 2013 Mar;26(2):251-4.

[9] Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011 Mar;4(3):241-7.

[10] Planta Med. 2008 Oct;74(12):1430-5.

Chelsea Clark is a writer with a passion for science, human biology, and natural health. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis in neuroscience from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. Her research on the relationship between chronic headache pain and daily stress levels has been presented at various regional, national, and international conferences. Chelsea’s interest in natural health has been fueled by her own personal experience with chronic medical issues. Her many profound experiences with natural health practitioners and remedies have motivated Chelsea to contribute to the world of natural health as a researcher and writer for Natural Health Advisory Institute.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.