Toenail fungus is a difficult condition to treat. Many people try a combination of at-home treatments and medications to help manage the infection.
Bleach has antifungal and antiseptic properties that can be used to treat a fungal nail infection. However, those with circulation problems or diabetes should consult a podiatrist for treatment.
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Soak Your Feet in Bleach
You might think of bleach as a harsh household product, but it actually has powerful cleaning properties. Bleach can remove stains from white clothes, kill mold and mildew in bathrooms and sanitize toilets. Likewise, it has antifungal activity and can help treat toenail fungus.
Bleach is available in many forms: liquid, powder, cream and tablets. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, but the liquid form is one of the most common home remedies for toenail fungus. Bleach is a caustic substance that can cause chemical burns when used topically, so this method should only be followed if advised by a physician.
To use this home remedy for toenail fungus, mix equal parts water and bleach in a foot bath. Soak your feet for about 20 minutes, then dry them off with a clean towel and put on clean socks. Repeat this process twice daily until your toenails grow back and the fungal infection is gone.
The key to getting rid of toenail fungus is treating it as early as possible before the infection spreads too much. Infections are more likely to occur and spread when the nails become damp or moist, which often occurs in environments such as swimming pools, locker rooms or public showers. Fungus infections are also more prevalent in people with weakened immune systems, such as diabetics and the elderly.
Keeping your nails short and thin helps reduce pressure on the toes and allows antifungal agents to penetrate the nail. Wearing breathable shoes and sanitizing footwear are additional ways to reduce your risk of developing a fungal infection. While toenail fungus can take up to 18 months to fully regrow, there are nail polishes formulated by podiatrists that may speed healing and prevent recurrence of the infection. These nail polishes have ingredients that can help keep the nails healthy, including tea tree oil, which research published in Tropical Medicine and International Health suggests is an effective antifungal agent. These products are also available for purchase at most drugstores.
Spray Bleach on Your Nails
Untreated nail fungus can cause serious damage to your nails, spread infection to the surrounding skin, and make it painful to wear shoes. Symptoms of toenail fungus include yellowing and thickening of your nails, loss of your natural nail color, and a foul odor. Nail fungus often affects the big toenails and can be especially problematic for people with diabetes, poor circulation, or who work in damp environments like public showers and locker rooms.
Fungus thrives in warm, moist conditions and it’s especially easy for it to develop on your feet when you spend time wearing closed-toed shoes in a damp environment. The fungi can also flourish under your nail, which causes discoloration and can lead to brittle, ragged, crooked nails. It is possible to get rid of the fungus with home remedies, but the process can take time because a new healthy nail must grow in to replace your fungal nails.
One of the most effective and economical home remedies to treat toenail fungus is hydrogen peroxide. You can find this at your local drugstore or supermarket and it’s a cheap way to disinfect your feet and kill the fungus that’s causing your infections. Adding the solution to your foot soak or spraying it directly onto your nails helps to prevent new fungal growth and destroys existing fungus.
Another way to use hydrogen peroxide is to add it to your bathwater and soak your feet for 10 minutes daily. You can also dip Q-tips in the diluted bleach solution and apply it directly to your nails. Be sure to rinse your feet thoroughly afterward and dry them completely.
The pantry staple baking soda can also help get rid of toenail fungus because it helps to balance the pH in your nails and around your feet, making it more difficult for the fungi to thrive. To use baking soda as a home remedy, sprinkle the powder on your affected toenails and rub it into the skin under and around your nails and the surrounding skin twice a day.
Ozonated oils, such as olive and sunflower oil, also contain oxygen that can help eradicate toenail fungus. To use this home remedy, apply the oil directly to your toenails and surrounding skin every other day. You can also use a brush to work the ozonated oil into all the nooks and crannies under your nails.
Apply Bleach to Your Nails
Bleach baths are an approach dermatologists sometimes use to treat fungal infections on the skin. They involve soaking in a tub of water with a small amount of bleach mixed in. These baths may temporarily kill fungi, but they’re unlikely to treat nail fungus that’s already established. Bleach is toxic to the body, and using it on the nails can result in chemical burns and other serious health complications.
To get rid of toenail fungus, you need an antifungal medication that penetrates the nails and destroys the spores that cause them to grow in the first place. Most people will need to see a podiatrist or nail dermatologist for prescription antifungal medications like terbinafine and itraconazole. These are pills that can take 12 weeks or more to completely treat toenail fungus. Taking these pills consistently and following other preventative measures can help make your toenail fungus much less of a problem in the future.
When you have toenail fungus, it’s important to keep your feet clean and dry. Washing your toenails with a mild cleanser and then allowing them to air dry can help prevent infection from developing. It’s also helpful to trim and file your toenails regularly, using traditional nail clippers or an Emory board. Keeping your nails short and thin can relieve pressure on the toenails and make it easier for antifungal solutions to penetrate the nails.
Some home remedies for toenail fungus include hydrogen peroxide and apple cider vinegar. Hydrogen peroxide can be applied to the infected nails using a cotton swab or towel and then rinsed off after a few minutes. It can also be used in a foot soak to create an acidic environment that makes it hard for fungal spores to grow in your nails.
Other home treatments for toenail fungus include essential oils, such as tea tree oil, and olive leaf extract capsules. These can be applied directly to the toenails with a cotton swab or soaked in a solution made from one part vinegar to two parts water. Changing your diet to eat foods that are rich in calcium, vitamin D, fatty acids, probiotics, and lean protein can also prevent nail fungus.
Apple Cider Vinegar Foot Soak
Although it might seem a little odd to soak your feet in vinegar, this natural substance does wonders for nail fungus. Diluted apple cider vinegar adjusts the pH of your nails and skin, making it difficult for fungus to grow. In addition, it relieves the itching that can make your fungus so uncomfortable.
To use this remedy, fill a tub with a mixture of water and vinegar. Use equal parts of each ingredient, and soak your feet in this solution for 30 minutes a day. Then, dry your feet thoroughly. Fungus thrives in moist environments, and leaving your feet damp can encourage infection.
If you’re not fond of the smell of vinegar, you can add a few drops of essential oil to the mixture. Some good options include lavender or tea tree oil. These oils have antifungal properties and will also help ease the itching that comes with this condition.
Baking soda is another kitchen staple that fights fungus. It can lighten the yellowed appearance of fungus-yellowed toenails and kills fungus spores, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. To use this remedy, sprinkle baking soda on the affected nails and under them. Rub it in gently with a soft toothbrush, and then rinse your feet and nails with warm water.
Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to treat toenail fungus. The antifungal agent in the substance kills fungus and dries out the environment that allows it to flourish. To use it, mix a capful of peroxide with water in a bowl and soak your feet in the solution for about 20 minutes a day. You can also apply the peroxide directly to your nails with a cotton swab.
While these at-home treatments can improve the appearance of your nails, they won’t get rid of your fungus completely until a new, healthy nail grows in to replace the damaged one. To speed up the healing process, try to get regular exercise and eat a balanced diet that’s rich in nutrients. You should also avoid wearing shoes and socks that can trap moisture, and make sure to dry your feet after a shower or pool session.