Toenail fungus is a common infection of the toenails. Also known as onychomycosis, it can cause the toenail to discolor and thicken. As it is contagious, it often starts in one toenail and spreads to several others.
As a result, people may consider home remedies to treat toenail fungus. However, home remedies are often not effective. While they may help suppress mild cases, they are unlikely to prevent infections. Instead, people may consider trying certain remedies alongside proper antifungal treatments.
This article will discuss the most popular methods that people may try themselves at home to treat toenail fungus and discuss their efficacy.
Proponents of baking soda can help absorb moisture that may cause toenail fungus. Additionally, it may possess fungistatic properties, meaning it does not kill fungi but can prevent them from growing. A small older study supports this, suggesting that baking soda can prevent fungal growth. So perhaps for a treatment to help prevent, rather than solve a current infection.
Add baking soda to a foot soak to heal the affected nail. You can also make a paste of baking soda with a minimal amount of water and apply it directly to the foot. Allow the paste to sit on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water and dry the foot thoroughly.
However, there is not much scientific evidence to support baking soda as a remedy and no evidence suggesting it can treat fungal infections.
Some people may advise using products that contain menthol, such as a menthol rub, to help treat toenail fungus. However, they are unlikely to provide many benefits.
A small 2011 study using a mentholated ointment suggests it may help with toenail fungus but is unlikely to treat the infection. More research is necessary to prove that menthol products are effective for treating toenail fungus.
Vinegar is a common household product, and apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a common ingredient in many different home remedies. A 2017 study notes that ACV may possess some antifungal properties. However, it also notes that more research is necessary to investigate this further.
It has, however, been proven to improve skin and hair health – so that’s always nice!
As with vinegar, there is no direct scientific evidence to support using mouthwash to treat toenail fungus. However, some research suggests that mouthwash containing chlorhexidine may have antifungal properties.
It is worth noting that mouthwash containing this ingredient generally requires a prescription in the United States, so a person cannot buy it over the counter.
Typically used for seasoning food (yum!), garlic may provide some benefit for helping to treat toenail fungus as well. Though limited, there is some evidence to support this claim.
A 2019 studyTrusted Source notes that garlic extract may display antifungal properties against fungi that can cause toenail infections. However, more research is necessary, and the study suggests using garlic extract alongside common antifungal drugs.
Snakeroot extract Snakeroot may not be well-known in the U.S. but is a traditional treatment for different skin conditions and injuries in Mexico. Also known as Ageratina pichinchensisis, it is part of the sunflower family and may possess antifungal properties.
A 2020 studyTrusted Source adds that while a few small studies have found varying levels of success using snakeroot oil, larger, well-designed studies are necessary to evaluate its effectiveness further.
Some evidenceTrusted Source suggests that certain essential oils may possess antifungal properties and have some use alongside existing antifungal treatments. However, these oils can pose a risk of allergy and irritation.
A 2020 studyTrusted Source using a topical formulation containing vitamin E and essential oils of lime, oregano, and tea tree indicates it may have some benefit in treating onychomycosis. However, it is worth noting that this study used a topical product containing these ingredients, and using them at home may not have the same effect.
Tea tree oil was significantly more effective at inhibiting the growth of T. rubrum than a placebo. Never take tea tree oil internally. Swallowing tea tree oil can lead to the following serious side effects:
- decreased muscular control
- loss of consciousness
Tea tree oil can also cause side effects when a person uses it topically. The following side effects usually affect the area of skin where the individual applied the oil:
- scaling skin
Self-care While home remedies are unlikely to provide many benefits, the following tips may be beneficial:
Keep nails short, dry, and clean Use one nail clipper for the infected nails and another for the other toenails Wear well-fitting and breathable shoes Keep feet dry, wear cotton socks, and change them daily Maintain good foot hygiene Wear clean shower shoes when using a communal shower Consider seeking treatment from a podiatrist if thickened toenails cause discomfort when walking Medical treatments A person may require either oral or topical antifungal medication in most cases. In severe cases, they may also require surgery to remove the toenail.
Summary Home remedies are typically not effective for treating toenail fungal infections. While some options may help temporarily suppress milder infections, they are unlikely to treat the infection. Instead, people should use prescription-strength oral and topical antifungal medications. It is also important for people to take care of their feet and maintain good foot hygiene.
As this is such a widespread problem, with little effective treatments, there is a lot of money being poured into studies at the moment with some surprising and interesting results.
If you would like to know more about the Number 1 Fungus Blaster in podiatry at the moment, learn more here