Toenail fungus is such a cringe-worthy subject… it’s two words you never want to hear together! It might be tempting to keep your toes covered up if you notice the unsightly discoloration. But this is the exact opposite of what you should do. I recommend my patients use an inside out approach to treating toenail fungus with six natural remedies that work together to rid you of this uncomfortable and embarrassing issue once and for all.
What Is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is an infection referred to as “onychomycosis” by doctors. Regardless of what you call it, if you notice your toenails appear discolored, thick, and tend to crack and break, chances are you have toenail fungus. (1)
Toenail fungus is not just unsightly. It is also highly contagious. It can be spread from toe to toe, foot to foot and to other people. Whether you live with family or roommates, or are out barefoot in public places like gyms, spas, or pools, you need to treat your toenail fungus, so you don’t spread it around.
What Causes Toenail Fungus?
The most common causes of toenail fungus include:
- Excessive foot sweating
- Wearing socks and not having the proper ventilation and shoes
- Sharing shoes with others
- Infected nail clippers
- Exposure in a nail salon
- Walking barefoot in a communal setting like your gym
However, there are also health problems that can contribute to toenail fungus such as: (1)
- A nail injury or nail surgery
- A weakened immune system
- Blood circulation problems
- Athlete’s foot
- Poor digestive/gut health
- Thyroid imbalance
- Overall poor health
As a naturopath, I always look at the possible root causes of toenail fungus to help my patients resolve those issues. This in turn helps avoid issues like fungus.
6 Steps To A Natural Remedy For Toenail Fungus
Here is my six-step approach to naturally treat toenail fungus. Externally, it’s important to create a less friendly environment for the fungus. Look at possible underlying conditions that can make you more prone to fungal or bacterial infections. In the meantime, you’ll want to tackle the existing fungus properly. Here are the six steps to an effective natural remedy for toenail fungus:
1. Natural Remedy for Toenail Fungus – Limit Exposure
You want to avoid cross-contamination exposure in public places where shoes are not required! Fungal infections are easy to pick-up in areas like gym shower floors, because fungus thrives in wet, warm environments. You might consider wearing sandals or flip flops in public areas, showers, pools, etc., to reduce risk for exposure.
2. Treat Toes & Shoes Daily To Stop Toenail Fungus
That damp, warm environment found on the shower gym floor can also exist in your shoes and socks. Air circulation is important to avoid toenail fungus and also help get rid of it. First, if you are wearing tight fitting shoes, don’t! Tight shoes mean you’re not ventilating your toes. Ideally you need to stay away from damp environments like wet, sticky socks from sweat as that creates a very fungal-friendly environment. Your shoes themselves might be contributing to the issue if the fungus has found a home there. So, either wash them, or toss them out. If your shoes are tight, damp or exposed to the fungus they will make it hard to resolve your fungus issues.
For your toes, make sure they are thoroughly dry before putting on socks and/or shoes. Dry each toe individually, getting in between them. Once your toes are completely dry, put a drop of tea tree oil onto the nail and rub it in. This is a natural antifungal treatment. Last but not least, add a few drops of tea tree oil to the toes of your shoes, to kill fungus living there. When you get home, take off your socks and shoes and slide on some nice clean flip flops. This provides air circulation while also reducing risk for cross contamination to loved ones.
3. Remedy Toenail Fungus With Daily Foot Soaks
You’re probably thinking, “Wait a second, didn’t you just say keep your feet and toes dry?” I did, but there is a reason for daily foot soaks. Foot baths are crucial because they change the area’s pH balance making it more alkaline. Fungus hates this because the yeast can’t live in an alkaline environment. As the fungus and bacteria dies, your healthy skin cells can rejuvenate for healthy toenail growth. The skin beneath the nail is also healed. You can no longer spread the fungus to your other toes, or foot, and also avoid cross contamination to your loved ones and folks at the gym or nail salon.
If you soak your feet in apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and Epsom salts you can attack the fungus head on and provide a less friendly environment for it. Both vinegar and tea tree oil have antifungal properties.
When concocting your foot bath be sure to use organic vinegar and include some of the cloudy liquid in the bottle. It has the highest potency to help balance the pH of your toes, nails, and the skin on your feet. You’ll need something large enough to fit your foot and about six to seven inches of water. Your toes should be loose and comfortable and shouldn’t touch the edges of whatever vessel you use. First sprinkle a cup of Epsom salts in the tub and then cover it with warm water. Let the salts dissolve and then add ¼ cup of the vinegar, and 10 drops of tea tree oil. The water should not be hot, but comfortably warm. Let your feet soak about 15 minutes once a day. In severe cases you can do this twice a day.
Carry on with your daily foot baths until you notice your new nail growth is less discolored. As the treatment progresses, you’ll also see less ridging, and your toes themselves may even feel more comfortable. Eventually the nail bed will appear less raised.
4. Natural Remedy for Toenail Fungus – Clean Up Gut Health
Toenail fungus is a red flag that there may be gut issues. Once you clean up your gut health you’ll also help clean up your toenail fungus. Probiotics are very helpful in creating a healthy balance and ecosystem of digestive flora. They help the digestive system balance the unhealthy bacteria in your gut. If you have “leaky gut” it poses a real challenge because the fungus in the digestive system and yeast bacterial overgrowth can actually enter the bloodstream. As a result, it becomes systemic, meaning it runs all over the body, including the toes and nails.
A combination of probiotics and digestive enzymes are essential to fight fungus. Digestive enzymes eat up the unhealthy bacteria and destroy the systemic nature of fungus in the body.
5. Remedy Toenail Fungus By Balancing the Thyroid
Hormones and thyroid function can cause finger and toenail issues. Some common symptoms include: (2)
- Thick, dry nails that become brittle
- Visible ridges
- Nails that crumble
- Slower or faster growth
- Cracking and breaking more easily
- Lifting from the nail bed
Poor circulation due to hormonal or thyroid imbalances can also increase risk for toenail fungus. Hormonal testing can diagnose thyroid issues which can then be treated naturally.
6. Boost Immunity, Remedy Toenail Fungus
Autoimmune disorders or a weakened immune system can make you more prone to chronic infection. This includes yeast infections or other fungal related infections in the body such as:
- Thrush on the tongue
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Bacterial yeast infections in the digestive system
- Bacterial yeast infections in the bronchial sinus lining
Of course, it can also cause fungal infection including toenails. Boosting the immune system helps fight the fungus from within, which is another reason why probiotics are so important. Probiotics balance all of your body’s natural biomes so you have the right number of healthy bacteria to help fight off infections.
As you can see it takes several different natural remedies, to combat this stubborn fungus. However, with patience and commitment, within a month or so you should see improvements and for mild to moderate cases it should be completely remedied.