A yellow colored spot or a white discoloration can sometimes be observed below the toenails. This discoloration can be caused due to a fungal infection that involves nails. The fungal infection developing on the nails is termed as Onychomycosis (1). When this fungal infection spreads deep inside the toenails and causes the nail to lose its color completely. Such infected nails become thick and also may break or curl at the edges. It can be present on a single nail or may even affect multiple nails at a time. Apart from the discoloration, if the nail fungus doesn’t cause any discomfort, then such infections are mostly undetected and left untreated. However, if the nail thickens and the fungal growth infection causes pain, then it is noticed, and treatment is sought. If left untreated, it may either resolve or proliferate further. Even after successful treatment, it may sometimes relapse. It is not a life-threatening infection, but it gives an unpleasant appearance to the nails and feet.
The appearance of fungus-infected nails is crumbled and ragged. Nails become thickened, and the shape is usually distorted. Crumbling of the nails allows dirt to enter below the nails and accumulate, giving a dark-colored appearance. The odor is slightly foul, and sometimes sudden breaking of the nails is also seen. These infections are caused by a variety of fungi (2), which tend to develop in a moist area. In regular shoe wearers, the closed environment provides ample moisture for the fungus to grow. This infection can affect individuals at any age, but it is most commonly seen in the older age group. Aging of the nails makes them brittle, dry and more susceptible to develop cracks. These cracks serve as an entry portal for the fungi, which then further propagate and establish a stronghold on the toenails.
Some important risk factors of developing a toenail fungus include weak immunity, diabetes, heavily sweating individuals, unhygienic feet with the irregular cleaning of feet and nails, decreased blood circulation to the feet and even continued work in the wet environment. If the fungal infection becomes severe, it may even damage nails permanently. Underlying conditions like diabetes or use of certain immune-suppressive medications can also cause the nail fungus infection to develop more severe complications. The disease is curable and can be treated without many expenses. In order to get rid of the nail fungus, some effective home remedies can prove very useful. Home remedies for the treatment of toenail fungus are as follows:
Tea tree oil
This anti-fungal and antiseptic oil is a proven remedy for various fungal infections. When used in a concentrated form, can penetrate through the hardened nails and reach the fungal growth that is entrapped deep beneath the fingernails. The infected nail should be wiped clean with lukewarm water. Tea tree oil should be applied with a small swab of cotton and left to dry. Application of tea tree oil regularly for 5 to 6 months cures the toenail fungus.
Although Vicks is commonly used for the treatment of a cough and cold, some of the ingredients present in its composition, namely, eucalyptus oil and camphor are effective against the toenail fungus. The affected area should be wiped dry, and a small amount of Vicks should be applied. Regular application of Vicks shows a significant decrease in the fungal growth and also effectively reduces the associated pain.
Apple cider vinegar
A potent antibacterial agent, apple cider vinegar is mildly acidic in nature. It acts by preventing the spread of the fungus into deeper tissues. It effectively suppresses the growth of bacteria and a variety of fungi. Quicker results are observed with the use of apple cider vinegar.
This ingredient is the most readily available ingredient, commonly found in the kitchen It helps in the suppression of the fungal growth and also reduces the unpleasant odor of the affected part of the foot.
Thymol is an anti-fungal agent found in abundance in the oregano oil. For the treatment of the toenail fungus, oregano oil should be applied twice a day to the area affected with fungus.
Use of vinegar is also proven to show anti-fungal properties and effectively treats the toenail fungus with regular use. Soaking feet in vinegar diluted with warm water gives adequate
This routinely used ingredient of the Indian kitchen is an effective anti-fungal and an antibacterial agent, which treats many skin diseases and fungal infections as well. Crushing the garlic cloves and applying the juice directly gives relief from the fungal infection. Although the unpleasant pungent smell may bother initially, the shelter experienced after application makes it one of the most commonly used remedies for the treatment of the toenail fungus.