What is ToeNail Fungus? And How Do I Cure Nail Fungus?
What is Toenail Fungus? And How Do I Cure Nail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is a fairly common problem. In fact, nail fungus is one of the most common nail diseases today. Its responsible for about half of all nail disorders. It's estimated that over 35 million people in the US are affected by it and it's most prevalent in people over 50 years of age.
I think part of the reason it's so common is because once you have it, it's not easy to permanently get rid of. In this article I'll cover what exactly it is, how you got it and how to fight it.
What is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail Fungus (a.k.a Onychomycosis) is a fungus (usually Dermatophytes) that finds it's way underneath your toenail, usually through a cut or small opening next to the nail. Once underneath your nail the fungus will start feeding on the keratin in your nails.
Usually your toenail is a good barrier against invasion by fungus, but that same effective barrier your nail creates can also work against you when you are trying to treat it.
If left untreated the fungus can spread to your other toe nails and cause fungal infections in other parts of the body.
What Does Toenail Fungus Look Like?
Toenail fungus is pretty easy to spot. The nail would be thick, discolored, yellow or brown, brittle and possibly flaky and crumbly. Often there is also a distinctive smell coming from the affected toenail. As the nail fungus progresses the keratin debris builds up underneath the nail and can cause the nail to flake and sometimes disconnect from the nail bed.
Another telltale sign is when the surface of the nail becomes rough and bumpy. Occasionally the fungus can also cause the nail to fall out.
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Why did I get the fungus?
The fungus likes warm, moist, dark places and it easily spreads so any public area that has those conditions will be a possible breading ground for the fungus.
The most common places for fungus transmission are often from a moist, public area like:
- gym floors
- locker rooms
- manicure and pedicure nail salons or shared nail clippers
- sharing linens, shoes, socks, etc... with someone who had the fungus. Ironically you may end up getting the fungus back by using your own old shoes, socks linens that have the fungus on them.
How To Avoid Toe Fungus
In addition to a toenail fungus treatment, there are a few things you can do to make the fungus unwelcome. and to help make your fungus go away:
- Wear opened toed shoes or let your feet breath as often as possible - Toenail fungus is similar to other fungi in that it likes moisture, warmth and darkness. By wearing open toed shoes, you are removing ALL the conditions (moisture, warmth and darkness) that it likes. This will slow down the growth of the fungus.
- Don't wear nail polish on your toes until the fungus is completely gone - Since the fungus likes darkness, nail polish only helps the fungus thrive. If you can't live without the nail polish on your toes you should select a light color, the lighter the better.
- Don't wear acrylic nails on the affected toenails - Similar to the nail polish the acrylic nails protects the fungus by trapping the moisture and making it a little dark. Two of the conditions that fungus thrives in.
- Avoid sharing linens with others - The fungus is easily spread so avoid sharing shoes or socks with others. Make sure to clean your tub and shower often. The most common reason for a relapse in Toenail fungus is a to get it from yourself. I would also recommend using new shoes once there are signs of improvement. The idea is to avoid getting the fungus back again after you think the coast is clear.
- Apply the treatment to all your toenails - Even if not all of your Toenails are affected. The reason being you don't want the fungus to spread to the healthy nails when you are in the process of healing the affected nail. Basically we don't want to give the fungus anywhere to hide.
- Clean up the nail as much and often as possible - As the Fungus eats away at your nail there will be keratin build up underneath the nail and the nail will begin to thicken, crack and sometimes flake off. After a shower or soaking your feet it's a good idea to cut away any of the loose flaky nail and scrape off any of the keratin build up underneath the nail.
- Wear sandals when walking in moist public areas - In order to prevent spreading it to others you should wear sandals when going to pools, gyms, shower stalls, etc... And once you are cured, you should wear sandals to prevent catching the nail fungus from others in those same areas.
- Disinfect your nail clippers after each use - Especially when sharing nail clippers with others.
- Keep your nails short, dry and clean - Making sure your feet are thoroughly dried after a shower or bath is important because, as we said before ,the fungus likes moisture and not drying your feet thoroughly would only promote fungal growth.
- Cut down on the sugar in your diet - Nail fungus is similar to other fungi in that it likes sugars. Llimiting the amount of sugar in your body can also help starve the fungus. Other common fungal infections that cutting sugar would help are athlete's foot, ringworm, jock itch, dandruff and yeast infections.
- Don't give up - Toenail Fungus is a stubborn problem to get rid of but with consistent treatment you will be able to make ugly nails a thing of the distant past.
Note: If you suffer from multiple types of fungal infections the balance of good bacteria to yeast may be off in your body. Often, this is a result of taking antibiotics.
For a better understanding of the balance that needs to be maintained in your body and for tips on how to get that important balance back see my other article:
ZetaClear is a Popular Effective Natural Fungus Cure
What Are Some Nail Fungus Treatment Options
The reason fungus grows under your toenails is because the conditions are ideal for the fungus to grow. The best way to get rid of the fungus are to remove those ideal conditions and to use something to treat it.
What you use to treat it will be determined on your preference and budget.
Toenail fungus is a very stubborn problem to get rid of and your success will really be determined by your plan of attack along with your diligence and consistency with the treatment.
There are several home remedies that have varying results. If you have a light case of toenail fungus these may be the only treatments you'll need:
Vinegar - Any vinegar will do, choose a cheaper one because you will need quite a bit of it. You should mix a 50/50 mixture of it with water and soak your feet in it for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. Vinegar helps balance the ph of the skin, soothes irritation and kills the fungus.
Tip- If you suffer from athlete's foot, vinegar is a great way to kill it, just use the baths I just outlined and you'll see very fast results.
Hydrogen Peroxide - A 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water is what you will need and soak your feet in it for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.
Bleach - I tell you people must be really determined to get rid of the fungus when they resort to this. The suggested usage is one tablespoon of bleach into one gallon of cold water (DO NOT USE HOT WATER) and soaking the feet for about a half hour a day for 2 -3 weeks. And for better results split it up 10-15 minutes in the morning and another time in the evening. Care should be used when mixing the bleach and avoid inhaling the fumes that come up.
I personally would not try the bleach because it can be very dangerous if not used correctly. I'd much prefer you try one of the other treatments first.
Tea Tree Oil - Tea tree oil is an effective fungal killer. It's been known to be very effective against toe fungus, in fact many of the better natural treatments for toe fungus contain tea tree oil as one of the main ingredients. The caveat to using only tea tree oil is that results are slow going and many people give up before they see results. If you have a mild case of toe fungus this is a viable treatment for it. Tea tree oil should be applied directly to the nail before going to bed and when you get up in the morning. Don't overdo it because tea tree oil can cause irritation if overused.
Vics Vapor Rub - Apply Vics Vapor Rub to the affected toes before going to bed using a cotton swab paying close attention to the base of the nail when new nail grows from. The nail will get darker and new nail will grow fungus free. This is another remedy that may work for certain types of fungus, and depending on the severity you may have good results. If you have a severe case of toenail fungus, this will probably not be enough to do the trick.
There are a lot of over the counter stuff that you can buy to cure toenail fungus, I personally haven't heard any stories other than they didn't really do anything. There are some topical creams that work very well with athlete's feet, but for that I would recommend the vinegar instead. It's faster, cheaper, it works and it's natural.
Prescription Drugs for Toenail Fungus
The most popular is called Lamisil, taken orally it kills the fungus from the inside out. It is a daily tablet, taken for 3 months. This treatment takes a while for results to show as the new nail will grow fungus free. The main draw back by far with this treatment is the health concerns. It can have severe side effects, such as liver and kidney failure. In fact you will need to be tested by a doctor first to make sure you don't have any existing liver problems.
The cost of Lamisil is also a drawback, costing about $400 for the 3 months of treatment makes Lamisil the second most expensive treatment on the list.
Laser Toenail Fungus Treatments
A fairly new treatment but gaining a lot of popularity because of the speed of recovery. It typically takes one 45-60 minute visit and you are done.
There are two draw backs that I am aware of, the first is the Cost at about $1200 for that one treatment. This treatment is a bit pricey and out of most people's budgets. The other draw back is a health issue. When the laser is zapping away the nail fungus, the fungal particles become airborne. If you choose this treatment, please make sure that it is performed in a well ventilated area and that you are given a face mask for the treatment. Breathing in the fungus is not what you would want to have happen. This seems to be a very effective treatment, albeit very expensive.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the laser works on fungus that has a pigment to it, meaning if the nail fungus is causing your nails to be white in color then you're out of luck in the laser department. The laser works by identifying that color and zapping it, when the fungus is white (typically a yeast based fungus) the laser isn't able to detect it to zap it. They come out with laser improvements all the time but so for only nail fungus that causes your nails to be yellow in color can be treated using a laser.
Natural Homeopathic Toenail Fungus Treatments
One of the most popular and effective homeopathic Toenail fungus solutions is ZetaClear. It's an all natural topical product that has been proven to work. It takes the best of several natural solutions (one of which is tea tree oil which was mentioned above) and puts then into one easy to apply product.
Personally, I always lean toward the natural stuff. Everybody is different but if you are looking for a natural cost effective solution that has results, I'd recommend this one:
Nail Before/After The ZetaClear Treatment
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