A nail fungus infection is caused when parasitic fungi enter through a weakened nail, a small cut or an abrasion in or around the nail. The fungi grow and spread easily, as the nail provides protection to them. The infection may start with a white or a yellow spot, and slowly develop and discolour the whole nail. The fungi feed on the tough keratin, causing the nail to chip, peel, and become weak.
The fungus can develop either in the nails of the fingers or toes. But as the fungus thrives in warm, dark, and moist environment to which our toes are continually exposed, toe nail fungus infections are more common.
Dr. Health suggests a few home remedies for the nail fungus infection
- Before you go to bed, wash and dry your nails thoroughly. After cleaning them apply vicks vaporub. If toe nails are infected, wear clean socks after application. Make sure that your toe nails are dry, lest the moisture gets trapped under the applied balm and further aggravates the problem.
- Prepare a vinegar water solution. Soak your nails in this solution for half an hour every night before you go to bed. Vinegar reduces the PH value and the fungus can no longer survive in this environment. This treatment takes a while to work, but if you religiously follow this regime for a few months, the results will start showing.
- Moisture promotes fungal growth, so keep your toe nails dry and do not re-use your socks without washing.
- As far as possible, avoid wearing socks and shoes; open toed footwear should be preferred. If you need to wear socks, use ones made of 100% cotton, as they soak the sweat and do not let the fungus grow.
- File the affected area of the nail, and apply pure orange oil mixed with some alcohol; this is an effective remedy.
- If your nails have become thick and yellow, they need intense treatment. First of all, wash and dry them thoroughly. File them till most of the infected part has been removed. Soak a cotton swab in tea tree oil and put it over the infected nails. Cover them with a band aid. Change these cotton swabs 3-4 times during the day.
- Over the counter anti-fungal creams like clotrimazole can also be used. First clean and dry the nails and then apply the cream by rubbing it into the cuticles. Follow this routine every morning and night.
- Mix olive oil and lemon juice in equal proportion. Gently massage this mixture over the affected part. Olive oil softens the nails and surrounding skin, while lemon juice prevents growth of fungus.
- Prepare a paste of coarsely-ground rice and apple cider vinegar. Massage your nails with this paste.
- You can also apply a mixture of lavender oil and tea tree oil. Lavender oil possesses antiseptic properties while tea tree oil has antibiotic properties.
- Peel an onion and cut it into slices, and rub these slices over the infected part. This remedy is quite beneficial.
- Soak your nails in a hydrogen peroxide solution for 20 minutes, everyday. Dry the nails with a super absorbent paper towel after the soak.
- Sanitise you nail filer and other tools before re-using them, so that the nail fungus infection doesn’t spread.
- Do not apply nail colour on your finger nails and toe nails unless and until you get rid of the infection completely. Nail colour seals the fungus inside, and thus provides good breeding conditions.