What are toenail fungus and fingernail fungus?
Fungal infections of the nails (onychomycosis) can be a persistent and sometimes embarrassing problem and occasionally can become painful. These infections develop when fungi, known as dermatophytes, burrow under nails causing them to become crusty, thick, discolored, and distorted.
What are the symptoms of toenail fungus and fingernail fungus?
The first signs and symptoms of fingernail or toenail fungus is a white or yellow spot appearing underneath the tip of the nail, which then thickens and distorts the nail as the infection progresses. As fungi grow under and into the nail, crusting, discoloration, and darkening begin. Moreover, infected nails often separate from the nail bed, which can cause pain in the tips of fingers and toes, as well as a slightly foul-smelling odor.
What are the causes of fingernail and toenail fungus?
You can pick up a fungal infection such as toenail fungus while walking barefoot at a swimming pool, in a gym locker room or shower, or even when having a pedicure under less-than-sanitary conditions. The fungus thrives in warm, dark, moist environments, like showers or sweaty shoes.
Susceptibility may be heightened among those who have diabetes, an immune deficiency condition, a history of athlete’s foot, or who are prone to excessive perspiration.
Foot and toenail fungus usually will travel through an opening in the skin or separation in the nail bed, and if continually exposed to warm and moist environments, will grow in abundance.
Infection with nail fungus seems to occur more in toes than fingers because toenails usually are confined to the dark, warm, and moist environments where fungus thrives, as opposed to fingers, which are out in the light and open air. Diminished blood circulation to the toes as compared with the fingers can also make it harder for the body’s immune system to detect and eliminate the infection.
What nail fungus therapies does The Complete Herbal Guide recommend?
Tea Tree oil is a natural alternative medicine that could help get rid of yellow toenails.
- Take your shoes and socks off, let them be exposed to the air.
- Get a bowl of water and put about eight drops of Tea Tree oil in the bowl.
- Let your feet soak.
You may want to try this treatment in the evening or on a weekend when you don’t have any plans so that you can alternate soaking your yellow toenails with having them exposed to air.
Avoid putting your socks on or restricting airflow to them.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree oil doesn’t have a pleasant smell to it, but it’s not a chemical and is good for you. It’s not too expensive and you shouldn’t have any side effects if you give Tea Tree oil a shot. Try the treatment with Tea Tree oil for more than one night. See what happens and track it.
Prepare nails before applying Tea Tree oil
Before you use a product with Tea Tree oil as an ingredient on your nails, it is important to first prepare your nails. Imagine trying to shampoo your hair without first having to wash it – it would not work, and neither will using Tea Tree oil on your nails
Step 1. Trim the areas of your nail which are affected by nail fungus.
First, you need to remove the areas on your nails that are heavily affected by this fungus. That is if it can be easily removed. Think of this as trimming your nails. You should remove as much of your infected nail as is safely possible.
Step 2. File down remaining areas of your nail which are affected by nail fungus.
Once you have used clippers or nail scissors to remove areas of an infected nail, you should now use a nail file to remove the last remaining areas which can be safely filed away. The aim is to remove as much of your nail infection as is possible before treating it with Tea Tree oil.
This helps any treatment you apply after to have maximum effect.
Step 3. Wash your nails thoroughly to remove affected nail fungus dust.
Now you are done cutting and removing infected areas of your nail, it is time to wash away any debris. You might not be able to see it, but it is almost definitely still there. Wash carefully with tepid water and a skin-friendly (preferably pH-balanced) shower gel.
Step 4. Carefully dry your nails taking care not to irritate them by rubbing vigorously.
Remember how fungus grows in warm, damp conditions? This makes drying your feet thoroughly yet gently very important. Pat and press your feet or hands into a dry towel. Allow the towel to do the absorbing and avoid any scrubbing action.
How to apply Tea Tree oil on nails
Once you have prepared your nails it is time to apply your chosen Tea Tree oil treatment. As Tea Tree oil is an active ingredient be sure to take the correct steps to apply it. Active ingredients applied in the right way will have beneficial effects on your nails Active ingredients applied in the wrong way, could cause you more irritation and pain.
Step 1. Apply Tea Tree oil to a cotton swab or cotton pad.
It is important not to help the fungus infecting your nail(s) to spread, using a cotton pad or bud will help, as it eliminates foot to hand or hand to hand transfer of the fungus.
Step 2. Spot treat the areas of nails affected by nail fungus including the surrounding skin.
After applying the Tea Tree oil dilution to your nails allow it time to absorb. This is especially important for nail fungus affecting your toenails as socks and shoes can quickly rub off your treatment oil.
Step 3. Reapply twice daily.
Repeat steps 2 to 3 twice a day to ensure your Tea Tree oil nail fungus treatment is effective.
Toenail Fungus Prevention
Vinegar has been used traditionally to ward off nail fungus. Evidence of efficacy is sketchy at best, but you could try soaking your feet in one part vinegar to two parts warm water for 15 to 20 minutes daily.
Whatever treatment you choose, take these precautions to prevent recurrences:
- Keep your feet as clean and dry as possible
- Wear waterproof sandals at swimming pools or other wet public areas
- Change your socks or hose daily
- Clip toenails straight across and keep them shorter than the tips of your toes
- Avoid tight hosiery, which promotes moisture retention, and wears synthetic fabric socks that wick moisture away from feet better than cotton or wool