Why Does Toenail Fungus Form?
Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, forms because the spores grow and spread when they invade your toenails. When this happens, your toenails become thick, brittle, and/or discolored.
What makes toenail fungus particularly prone to forming is the environment—socks and shoes create a warm, moist environment ideal for fungal growth. The fungi feed on the keratin protein that makes up the nail and, over time, the infection can spread to other toenails and even the surrounding skin.
If left untreated, toenail fungus can cause pain and discomfort and, in severe cases, lead to permanent nail damage.
Ways to Treat Toenail Fungus
If you have or suspect you have toenail fungus, keep in mind that one of the first signs of infection is discoloration of the nail. As frustrating and embarrassing as toenail fungus can be, the good news is that there are effective ways to treat it.
Here are seven ways to treat toenail fungus as recommended by our podiatrists at Michigan Foot & Ankle Specialists. If you have any questions about any of these toenail fungus treatments, please contact our office.
Oral antifungal medication is taken by mouth and comes in the form of capsules or liquids; there are several medications available and our doctors will prescribe the one that will be most suitable for you. The oral antifungal medication will get to work right away targeting the contagious fungal cells, and inhibiting their growth and reproduction so the infection can recede.
Medicated Nail Polish
When it comes to toenail fungus treatments, medicated nail polish is another option worth considering. A topical antifungal treatment, medicated nail polish is available over the counter or by prescription. It can be applied directly to the affected toenails to treat toenail fungus. The antifungal agent within the polish kills the fungus causing the infection.
Medicated Nail Cream
Medicated nail cream is similar to medicated nail polish. It’s a topical medication containing antifungal agents that kill the fungus and prevent it from spreading. Available over the counter or by prescription, medicated nail cream can be applied directly to the infected toenail once or twice daily.
Tea Tree Oils
Extracted from the leaves of the tea tree, tea tree oil is a natural essential oil that has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Tea tree oils made our list of effective toenail fungus treatments due to their proven medicinal properties.
When purchasing tea tree oils, select a pure, high-quality oil, or purchase pre-made tea tree oil products designed explicitly for toenail fungus, such as antifungal nail creams or nail polishes containing this ingredient. You can add a few drops of the oil to a warm bath and soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. Before applying tea tree oils directly to the affected area, dilute the oil with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil.
Similar to tea tree oils as described above, eucalyptus oil is a natural essential oil extracted from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. These oils have been shown to have antifungal and antimicrobial properties and can be applied topically after being diluted with a carrier oil. Eucalyptus oils may also be used for foot soaks.
If you aren’t bothered by the smell of vinegar, consider this popular food ingredient and cleaning agent as another viable option to treat toenail fungus. The acidity in vinegar can help to kill the fungus. If you’d like to try soaking your feet in vinegar, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water and soak your toenails in this solution for up to 20 minutes.
Have you ever heard of ozonated oils? This type of oil has been infused with ozone gas. Ozone is known to have powerful antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Ozonated oils (including ozonated olive oil) can be used as a topical remedy for toenail fungus. If you’re interested in trying ozonated oils, apply a small amount to the affected areas and then massage it gently to ensure that the oil penetrates the skin and nails.