Natural remedies for toenail fungus

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Onychomycosis – better known as toenail fungus – affects millions of people.

In a recent letter one of our regular readers, Steve, wrote:

‘I have tried vinegar and tea tree oil to get rid of toenail fungus, and have not been successful. I don’t want what is prescribed as I understand it may not work, and it does a lot of damage to the liver. Has anyone been successful with any other things?’

The quick answer: Yes. And there’s also a natural solvent that may make Steve’s tea tree oil treatment much more effective.

Toenail fungus medication affects liver

When your bare feet are exposed to damp conditions in public areas – such as changing rooms or swimming pools – a fungus called trichophyton rubrum can slip in under a toenail and begin growing. Damaged nails are most susceptible, and people who have immune system disorders, diabetes or a history of athlete’s foot are particularly vulnerable.

Toenail fungus can be unsightly, but it doesn’t hurt, and except for extreme cases it doesn’t create any health problems. But once a nail is infected, the fungus can spread to other nails, including fingernails, so it’s important to treat it early, before it grows out of control.

Some doctors will lead you to believe that medication is the only way to treat the problem, but that’s simply not true. And in some cases the side effects for those medications are far worse than the fungus. They include headaches, nausea, rashes and even blood disorders.

As Steve notes, liver damage is also enough of a danger that patients taking these drugs need to have their liver function tested during the medication period, which can take up to a year or more. That’s because toenails only grow a couple of millimeters each month, and the healing progresses at the same slow speed no matter what type of treatment you use.

Fungus-fighting oils

One of the most common natural treatments for onychomycosis is tea tree oil. Another one of our readers, named Lynn, says that after trimming her nail back (easy to do when it’s in a deteriorating condition), she used a soft toothbrush to apply the oil twice each day. This process took nine months, but the nail eventually grew in just fine.

Lynn might have helped her cause by taking one additional step. Because it’s sometimes hard to get natural anti-fungals (such as tea tree oil and oregano oil) under the nail in sufficient concentration, applying DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), a natural solvent available from many sources online. DMSO carries the natural anti-fungal solutions right through the nail where they can start to work against the fungus.

Oregano oil also appears to be the most effective natural anti-fungal, but cautions that it’s very strong. If it irritates surrounding skin, it can be diluted with a little olive oil to reduce potency.

Meanwhile, there are a few simple steps you can take to help prevent onychomycosis from ever getting started. If your feet are regularly exposed to damp conditions, avoid using nail polish, which can help trap moisture beneath the nails. Keeping your feet clean and dry also helps, as does changing your socks or hosiery daily.


Disclaimer: This article is part of the Daily Health's extensive research archive. The research and information contained in this article was accurate at the the time of publication but may have been updated since the date of publication. Consult our most recent articles for the latest research on alternative health and natural breakthroughs.

Bear in mind the material provided in this content is for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.

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  • After several years of using expensive commercial treatments and home remedies without any real success I noticed after swimming in a salt water pool for several days while on holiday the nail appeared to improve.

    Once home I made up a strong solution of salty water and poured this on and under the nail and applied this three times per day – after 2 weeks there was a noticable improvement and after 4 weeks the infection has disappeared and the original damage to the nail is now disappearing as the nail grows.

  • I’ve heard somewhere that DMSO is associated with liver damage. Does anyone know anything about this?

  • Onychomycosis , fungus ,yeast , mold can easily and simply be cured with a remedy used In Quebec for hundreds of years ! PURE TURPENTINE , Is a natural product produced by distillation of conifers or Christmas trees If you wish . Clip toenails as short as possible ,without injuring toes ,make sure feet are dry , dampen a clean rag with PURE TURPENTINE ( No additives ) then dab the toenails so that the liquid penetrates under the nails .Do this once every three days .After the third application , dryness of the skin will be noticed ( this Is normal and It’s a sign that the fungus Is dying and drying up ) . If you develop a rash discontinue use as you probably have a slight allergy to the turpentine , otherwise continue treatment once a week for three more weeks making sure to trim nails and keeping them clean underneath .Over this period you will notice the nails becoming less deformed and returning to health !

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