Toe-nail fungus is probably one of the more long-lasting fungal infections you can develop. It comes on slow and takes its time leaving. For most people, it doesn’t leave at all, and a doctor’s visit is in order. If you’re not interested in meeting with your doctor and intend to treat toe-nail fungus on your own, we won’t stop you, but what we can do is give you a list of the best essential oils to consider for treatment.
What is Toe-Nail Fungus?
Toe-nail fungus is a fungal infection that affects the nail. It is not merely on the surface of the nail, but deep within the nail layers, causing discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nails themselves, especially around the edges.
Most people think that fingernails and toenails are an impermeable barrier, but this is not true. Nails are actually more permeable than the skin. This is why your nails will be become soft and bendable after washing the dishes or soaking in a bath. If liquids and harmful medicinal and cosmetic substances can infiltrate the nail, so can fungus. This is why, if you do not properly care for your feet and nails, you can easily develop toe-nail fungus. The good news is that topical fungal treatments can just as easily infiltrate the nail and kill the fungus, too.
What are the Symptoms of Toe-Nail Fungus?
As stated above, most of the symptoms will revolve around how the nail looks and the weakening of its structure. Rarely will a toe-nail infection present an odor or pain. It’s when the infection has progressed far enough that you may begin to experience discomfort. This is when the nail actually lifts off from the matrix, or nail bed, because of the structural damage caused by the spreading infection. In fact, when toe-nail fungal infections are well-advanced, a doctor may
remove the nail anyway as a solution.
Most doctors aren’t concerned about chronic toe-nail fungal infections because they’re considered a cosmetic issue. But, here at MoldBlogger, we want to remind you that if your toe-nail has been infiltrated by a fungus, it means your shoes or your environment could also be infiltrated, and you could develop more serious health issues if you do not take further action.
Here is a list of symptoms (some more common than others) that you will see in one or more of your nails if the issue is a fungal infection:
• whitish to yellow-brown discoloration
• brittle, crumbly, or ragged
• distorted in shape
• a dark color, caused by debris building up under your nail
• smelling slightly foul (rare)
So, unless you’ve had some type of injury to your toes or nail bed, such as direct blunt force (stubbing or dropping something on them) or clenching your shoes with your toes while walking (which can cause bruising under the nails), you shouldn’t have these types of symptoms in your nails. The cause is most-likely a fungal infection.
What are the Risk Factors for Toe-Nail Fungus?
• Athletes, especially runners, can develop nail fungus because of damp footwear and sweaty feet.
• The lack of protective footwear and proper hygiene at communal showers, pools, spas, and other recreational sites.
• Diabetes and weakened immune systems.
• Unchecked and untreated Athlete’s Foot is likely to spread to the nail.
• Men tend to engage in prolonged sweatier, dirtier activities than women, therefore they are more at risk.
• The elderly is more at risk.
What Causes Fungal Infections of the Nails?
There are three types of fungus that affect the nails:
• Dermatophytes : These are a type of fungus which grow on the nails, skin (Athlete’s Foot), and hair. (It is believed that they do not penetrate the body’s tissues, but those suffering with advanced skin infections beg to differ.) Dermatohphytes are incredibly easy to pick up—just the mere contact from items such as nail clippers, towels, shoes, and infested flooring can develop and infection on the skin and in the nails.
• Yeasts : These types of fungus can also grow on your nails, on your skin, and especially internally. Because they are already present within and without the body, any shift in the balance of the body’s external and internal microbiome can allow a yeast to overgrow and wreak havoc.
• Molds : These are often referred to as non-dermatophytes. They usually grow in the soil. Such molds does not usually transfer from one person to another.
What are Common Over-the-Counter Toe-Nail Fungal Treatments?
This is one of the more common toe-nail fungal treatments that you can buy just about anywhere. Whatever the brand, it will be packaged as a toe-nail fungal treatment in liquid form that you apply to your toe-nails like a regular nail polish similar to Sally Hansen’s clear nail growth formulas.
This over-the-counter toe-nail fungal treatment comes in a cream, powder, spray, or liquid, and can be used for multiple fungal infections—not just toe-nail fungus. This is not one I would recommend for toe-nail fungus, but it’s good in a pinch.
This fungal treatment comes in a cream or lotion and is mainly used in vaginal yeast infection kits, but if you’re unable to find anything else, you can rub this into your nails (remember: your nails are more permeable and absorbent than your skin).
Most people know this by its brand name: Lamisil. It’s available in cream, gel, spray, or powder. Other than undecylenic acid and the essential oils I’m about to mention, terbinafine or Lamisil is one of the better choices you could make when treating toe-nail fungus.
Strange But True: In a serious pinch, consistent soakings with mouthwash, such as Listerine, can help kill fungal overgrowth in the toe-nails.
The Top 9 Essential Oils for Toe-Nail Fungus
1. Tea Tree
6. Winter Savory
The three most-commonly used (and applauded) essential oils for toe-nail fungus treatments are tea tree oil, thyme, and oregano. These three are generally applied directly to the nail without a carrier oil (such as sweet almond or coconut), but it should be noted that all three can be too intense for skin contact (so apply with caution).
How to Use Essential Oils to Treat Toe-Nail Fungus
As a general rule, most essential oil fungal treatments require a carrier oil base of 3 to 6 drops (or more, depending on your sensitivity), and then only 1 to 2 drops of the essential oil of choice. Several essential oils on this list are more potent than others. Some are mild and some absolutely should not touch the skin without a great deal of carrier oil as a buffer.
Every person is different. What may be mild to one, will be severe to another. (I, for one, cannot touch what’s considered the mildest essential oil—lavender—without developing blisters.)
To be safe, drip whichever oil(s) you choose to use onto a surface and use a makeup brush or Q-tip to dip and apply to clean, dry toe-nails before putting clean, dry socks on. Do not apply with your own fingers. Apply once a day (best at night).
Should your skin come in contact with an essential oil, do not panic. Water can often make it worse, so grab the carrier oil and apply more of it to the affected skin. (If you did not have a carrier oil to begin with, run to the kitchen and use your cooking oils, such as olive or coconut.) This will dilute the essential oil more and give you instant relief.
Nothing on MoldBlogger is a substitute for your doctor’s advice. Suggestions and facts provided here are meant to offer an informative starting point for mold and yeast sufferers. Should you choose to use any information provided here in this article or elsewhere on MoldBlogger to treat your fungal issues without the advice of your doctor, you do so of your own free will.
With that said, let’s recap!
Most toe-nail fungal infections are caused by a fungus known as dermatophytic fungi, but the good news is that, while they’re easy to develop, they’re also easy to get rid of—thanks to the permeable layers of the nail itself. Treatments should yield noticeable results in less than a week.
There are several over-the-counter fungal treatments available for toe-nail fungus, but we know a lot of our readers prefer solutions as natural as possible, so we’ve provided a list of the top nine essential oils for toe-nail fungus.
The top three essential oils specifically successful in the treatment of toe-nail fungus are: tea tree, thyme, and oregano. But, they are also among the most intense, so use caution.
Do not use water to dilute an essential oil if it has hurt your skin. Instead, rub on extra carrier oil or a cooking oil. Even a creamy lotion can be used if no carriers are available.
Have you used any of these essential oils to treat your own toe-nail fungus? Let us know in the comments below!
For more information regarding mold, mold prevention, and mold solutions, please check out the rest of MoldBlogger.com.
Article by Amanda Demsky from the MoldBlogger team.