Toenail Fungus – Causes, Treatment & Home Remedies

Out of all the organism that invade our body, the fungus is most undetected and unidentified, may be because of its origin and presentation. Fungal infections are closely linked to the moist and unclean areas of our body. They might usually coexist with bacteria.

One such stubborn type is Onychomycosis, which affects the fingernails or toenails.  Our toenails are moist mostly because of the constant friction and covered shoe. Fungus may infect the areas between your toes and the skin of your feet, it’s called athlete’s foot (tinea pedis).We will take it in detail with Onychomycosis as this is extremely commonly found and problematic to handle.

The incidence is more common in Men than women.

Age is also a precipitating factor along with diabetes, a weak immune system, smoking, or family history of members having it. Another risk would be spending a lot of time in the water or a previously injured toenail.

People who perspire heavily are at higher risk. Although less contagious but there is a slight possibility of getting it through living with someone who has nail fungus.

How does it look like?

It initiates as a white or yellow spot under the tip of your fingernail or toenail. As it goes deeper, nail fungus may cause nail discoloration, thickening and crumbling at the nail corner.

Sometimes it can affect more than one nail. You may see distorted and dull nail with no shine. Some dark coloured debris can also be seen building up under your nail. This may or may not be accompanied by a foul odour.

More often than not you may not need treatment and home remedies will be sufficient. You should know that this is stubborn and have a tendency to return if precautions are not prolonged.

Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus:

  1. Tea Tree Oil: A natural disinfectant, fungicidal and anti-bacterial oil can be applied over the nail infection slightly picking the nail from the bed after diluting it a little with any regular oil like olive. The procedure can be alternated with soaking feet in warm water with tea tree oil for 15 minutes. Make sure to dry the foot adequately afterwards.
  2. Baking Soda/ Vinegar/ Hydrogen peroxide: Similar water soaking episode can be practiced with Vinegar for 15 min.
  3. Snakeroot extract: This was found to be of same effectiveness as medication management through ciclopirox. Its application has to be in step ladder pattern like steroids, every third day for the first month, twice a week for the second month and once a week for the third month.
  4. Sometimes just the coconut oil can pull you out of the grey. Applying thin layers of coconut oil 2-3 times a day on top of the area will enhance healing.

Precautions:

Keep the feet clean and dry. Don’t repeat socks of previous days. Preferable would be open toed shoes till the time infection subsides. And most important continue the home remedies even you see no trace of infection for around a month. Use an antifungal sprays or powder regularly.

 Diagnosis and Medical Aid

The practitioner (dermatologist or a podiatrist) may examine the toe and confirm. A nail sample is obtained by clipping the toenail or by drilling a hole in the nail. The piece is then sent to a lab to detect its origin.

Once you know what you are treating the following course of treatment is likely to be pursued

  • A topical cream that goes directly on the nail like Ciclopirox. This also comes in nail polish form for convenient usage.
  • The above treatment should be followed by antifungal nail lacquer containing amorolfine to prevent reinfection after it is cured
  • An antifungal prescription pill like Griseofulvin or Sporanox on prescription
  • Now the effectiveness of the application of Vicks VapoRub is questionable still but it has been widely used to cure toenail infection. Studies have shown partial improvement of signs and symptoms. Apply a small amount of the product daily with a cotton swab.

In a few very worst cases surgical nail removal will be apt followed by all the ointments and precautions.

Other therapies that can be used alone or in assistance to the medical management are:

Laser therapy or photodynamic therapy: This is all about application of light-activated agents onto the nail followed by light of a proper wavelength.

Iontophoresis or Use of electrical current to help absorption of topical antifungal medications into the nail. In this treatment, same charge drug gets absorbed through current into the dermis. The advantage is that this is the long-term release of drug to cure and prevent recurrence from happening, although the cost of this treatment is real high.

Well, I have tried and cover the maximum possible faces of toe nail infection, but this article is no replacement for one to one medical prescription and advice. The worst part about this fungus is its recurrence; I did not unnecessarily use the term stubborn for it in the beginning of the article. So the key is constant medication management followed by precautions forever. Believe me forever is not too big for this.

Have a happy and healthy nail management!

Dr. Tripti Ojha
 

Dr. Tripti Ojha, Bachelor of Physiotherapy and Masters in Hospital Administration with around 9 year experience as an expert healthcare practitioner and an eminent healthcare Manger. She has provided her inputs in academics, Healthcare products, wellness, insurance, TPA, hospitals, fitness, laboratories etc. Her approach towards healthcare content and research is impeccable and fresh. She has written and edited numerous healthcare articles, blogs, info graphs and the like. We hope for you to find her writings to be of great use.

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