Toenail fungal infections (onychomycosis) aren’t pleasant––you may experience anything from toenail discoloration, awful odor and discharges, to the nail completely dropping off. While it can seem worrying at the time, the good news is that it is treatable and the future good health of your toenails is generally assured, provided you continue to take good care of them and observe appropriate precautions to avoid future infections. Be aware that treating nail infections, while certainly easy and doable, is a long process and will likely require the involvement of a doctor. This article discusses some simple, effective remedies to treat toenail fungus as well as general information regarding treatment.
Consult With a Physician
Seek treatment early. It is important to treat the condition as early as possible. This will ensure that the condition is easier to treat, reduce the likelihood of recurrence, and help ensure that you do not need to have the nail removed. This is important: the infection will not go away on its own and home remedies are rarely effective.
Understand the common treatment methods. There are a number of different treatment methods and which your doctor prescribes will depend largely on the state of your infection and other circumstances. Understand that most of these methods take weeks to show improvement and that you will have to be fastidious about following the regimen recommended by your doctor.
- Topical medications may be prescribed in certain cases. These are creams and lotions which you will apply as your doctor sees fit.
- Oral medications are also commonly used to fight fungal infections. There are a variety of drugs available but many can cause health complications for those with certain health conditions, so be sure that your doctor is aware of your medical history.
- Antifungal lacquer is occasionally used to combat these infections. Placed on the nail like nail polish, this can be an easy way to solve the problem but requires a prescription.
Follow your doctor’s instructions. Again, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions, as a lapse in treatment can cause the infection to come back or worsen. You should also consult with your doctor before combining different treatment methods.
Proper Care For An Infected Nail
Allow air to reach the infected toe as much as possible. Moist socks and shoes breed fungal growth. Go barefooted as much as you can. Wear sandals whenever possible. Do not wear your sock or hosiery more than one day without washing. White socks that can be bleached are a plus.
Avoid wearing tight shoes. Tight shoes push your toes together, potentially transferring fungus and often creating the perfect moist, warm and closed environment so beloved by fungus. If you like wearing heels, it might be a good idea to take a break from them if they’re bunching up your toes. It can also help to shift to wearing only shoes that “breathe”. Tight hosiery can cause similar problems.
Dry feet thoroughly after getting wet. After bathing, swimming and any activity that leaves your feet sweaty or wet, dry them thoroughly. This will help keep the infection from worsening. Be especially careful of public pools and similar opportunities to spread your infection. Avoid these places or find ways to keep your feet covered.
Alternative or Supplemental Methods
Understand the importance of medical treatment. Nail fungal infections are incredibly complicated to treat and can take a great deal of time to heal completely. If treated incorrectly, they can easily come back. Please see a doctor about your infection but in the meantime or during treatment, you may be able to use certain supplemental treatments to minimize pain and aid the healing process. Consult with your doctor to ensure that these treatments do not conflict with the medication they have prescribed.
Remove excess nail. For toenails that have advanced fungus underneath that is growing and lifting the nail up off its bed, soak the foot (or feet) with any affected toes for 20-30 minutes in warm water. Then, begin trimming the nail. You will be surprised to find that your nail is no longer attached to your toe in the places where the fungus has invaded beneath the nail––this is normal even if worrying. Simply cut away all of this unattached nail and scrape off the thick, flaky fungus matter. Remove as much of the abnormal looking stuff as possible. Push the cuticles back. It is vital from this point on to be consistent in your care.
- Never tear off toenails with your fingers. Always use a clean nail clipper or long-handled nail scissors. Trimming after bathing is often the best time, as the nails are at their softest.
- If there is any pain involved, do not do this yourself. See your doctor or podiatrist. Proper removal can help to ensure the regrowth of a healthy nail rather than a deformed one.
Use Vick’s VapoRub(TM), or a generic brand. Keep “Vapor Rub” salve by your bedside and apply a small amount to affected toe and toenails before donning socks. Be sure that the toes are dry before applying the Vick’s to avoid sealing moisture in under the rub. This method takes a while, but so do commercial applications and this one is both cheap and reliable.
Use water and vinegar. Soak your toes in a weak solution of water and vinegar for at least half an hour on a nightly basis. This lowers the pH of your toenails so that the fungus can no longer survive. You need to do this regularly, every night, for three to six months. While this is quite a commitment, it works.
Use essential oils. Applying a liquid remedy faithfully, both morning and night of every day until the toenails strengthen, can be a good, natural way of curing your toenail fungus. You may buy a remedy at the pharmacy, but many people have had great success with 100% pure tea-tree oil––or use 5% to 10% of pure orange oil (not orange oil cleaner) in a mix of 50% vinegar and 50% rubbing alcohol. Shake well before each use. Apply this with a medicine dropper. Make sure it seeps down into the exposed nail bed and under the sides and edges of the nail. As the nail grows, keep removing dead tissue to leave a healthy environment for the new nail.
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