10 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Nail Fungus

Updated on May 28, 2020
isvayah profile image

Isvaiyah has been a licensed pharmacist at Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia) for nine years. She earned her M.Sc. from the same university.

Read on for 10 ways to beat nail fungus the natural way!
Read on for 10 ways to beat nail fungus the natural way! | Source

Nail fungus can attack any one of us, but there’s no need to worry because there are a number of effective natural remedies out there. This condition normally affects toenails, but fingernails can also become infected. The infected nails often change color, becoming yellow, green, or black. They can also become painful. If left untreated, the fungus may gradually inflict serious damage to the nails, and eventually, have to be removed by a physician.

Factors That Increase the Risk of Nail Fungus

  • Wearing tight shoes all day. Sandals are better; try to wear them when you can.
  • Playing a lot of sports. Long-distance running or any other endurance sport can make your feet very sweaty. Remaining in that state for a long period of time puts you at high risk.
  • Not changing your socks frequently enough. Socks can absorb moisture and create a breeding ground for fungus.
  • Athlete’s foot. The fungus that causes this condition can spread to your nails.
  • A humid environment. This makes it easy for you to develop fungus on both your fingernails and toenails.
  • Damage to the nail; particularly if it occurs regularly. Wounds are especially prone to infection.
  • Going barefoot in communal areas. In places such as locker rooms and around swimming pools, it’s better to wear flip-flops.
  • Using artificial nails. They can cause an allergic reaction or wear down the nails, making them more vulnerable.

Onychomycosis

Onychomycosis is the proper term for nail fungus. Common symptoms are thickened, brittle, and discolored nails.

Toenail Fungus and Diabetes

Toenail fungus is about twice as common in people with diabetes—in fact, one in three people with diabetes have had it. Because diabetes causes nerve damage in the feet, a person may not notice the symptoms of toenail fungus and accidentally cause further damage or infection. Gone untreated, toenail fungus increases the risk of amputation.

Nail Fungus and Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are plastic nails that are applied over your natural nails. While they are not particularly dangerous, frequent application of these chemicals can cause an allergic reaction or damage your nails. This increases the risk of a fungal infection. It can be difficult to notice as the acrylic nails will cover the evidence, allowing the fungus to thrive in a moist and dark place.

If you are prone to fungal infection, it may be best to avoid false nails in general.

Before We Start . . .

Be sure to consult a doctor if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you have a preexisting health condition (including diabetes).

How to Heal Nail Fungus at Home

Conventional treatments for nail fungus involve various antifungal creams, ointments, and oral medications. Oral antifungal medications can have significant side-effects. Be sure not to take them if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Laser treatment can be performed to remove nail fungus, but it’s expensive, and there are doubts as to whether it’s really effective. It’s not normally covered by insurance.

Thankfully, there are also a number of useful natural remedies that can solve the problem. Before using any of these remedies, trim your nails so that the remedy has the best chance of working.

10 Natural Remedies

  1. Coconut oil
  2. Tea tree oil
  3. Lavender oil
  4. Apple cider vinegar
  5. Garlic
  6. Lemon juice
  7. Oregano oil
  8. Epsom salt
  9. Baking soda
  10. Olive leaf extract

Should You Try to Scrape Nail Fungus?

No! You may cause further infection—though a dermatologist or podiatrist may scrape some out from under your nail for diagnosis. Any other physical or surgical intervention should be performed by a medical professional.

Coconut oil can be used in a variety of DIY beauty projects.
Coconut oil can be used in a variety of DIY beauty projects. | Source

1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil contains powerful antifungal properties due to its high concentration of medium-chain fatty acids. It is also used in a variety of skin and hair products. Use high-quality virgin coconut oil, not the normal commercial oils (Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized or “RBD”). You can even make your own if you're worried about the quality.

Instructions

First, wash and dry the affected area. Apply the coconut oil to the nails as well as the surrounding skin. Repeat three times a day.

2. Tea Tree Oil

The tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, is found in Australia. It is not the same species as the bush that produces the beverage tea, which is Camellia sinensis. Tea tree oil has strong antifungal and antibacterial effects, making it an effective alternative remedy for nail fungus.

American researchers, writing in the Journal of Family Practice in 1994, showed that tea tree oil was an effective remedy for toenail fungus, producing similar results to the conventional fungal medication Clotrimazole.

Both remedies were applied to the nails in a “double-blind” trial (neither the patients nor the physicians treating them knew who was given which).

Instructions

Dab tea tree oil on the affected area with a cotton ball, leave for fifteen minutes, and then wipe it off with a paper towel. Tea tree oil can sting and may damage the skin to some extent. This is why it's important to dilute the tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as olive or grapefruit oil before use. Dilute in a one to one ratio. Treat three times a day.

Warning: Like other essential oils, never take this oil internally!

Reduce surface inflammation by using lavender oil.
Reduce surface inflammation by using lavender oil. | Source

3. Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has long been valued for its antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Many people use it to combat fungal nail infections and reduce inflammation surrounding the nail. When using lavender oil topically, be sure to buy the pure essential oil, not merely oil which contains lavender fragrance.

Instructions

Dab a few drops of the oil on the affected areas with a clean cotton ball, leave for at least fifteen minutes, and then wipe off with a paper towel. Repeat three times a day.

Warning: Some people find that lavender oil irritates their skin. If this happens to you, dilute at least three to one with a carrier oil, such as olive oil. If you still have irritation, try another remedy. Lavender oil is sometimes combined with tea tree oil, in order to get the effects of both remedies.

Banish nail fungus with ACV!
Banish nail fungus with ACV! | Source

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (or ACV) is made by adding yeast to apple juice—thus turning the juice into alcohol via fermentation. It has long been used for nail fungus due to its antibacterial and antifungal effects. It is also used in hair masks and skin treatments.

Instructions

Make up a foot bath, using one part apple cider vinegar to two parts water. Soak your feet in the bath for about 30 minutes, then dry your feet thoroughly with paper towels. Carry out this routine once a day. Continue for a week or so after all visible signs of the fungus have gone.

How About Regular Vinegar?

Does vinegar kill nail fungus? Yes, it does! You can make up a similar foot bath with white vinegar, though ACV is preferred.

Garlic can fight nail fungus by being applied directly to the affected nail.
Garlic can fight nail fungus by being applied directly to the affected nail. | Source

5. Garlic

Garlic is another great topical remedy for nail fungus. Freshly-crushed garlic contains active compounds, such as allicin and ajoene, which have significant antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Instructions

Crush some garlic and mix it with a little carrier, such as olive oil or vinegar. Smear the mixture onto the affected nail. It is best to put a bandage around the garlic to hold it in place. Leave for at least 30 minutes, then rinse clean.

Note: Some people find garlic irritating to their skin, so use this remedy with caution at first.

The acid in lemon tends to inhibit fungal growth, making it a useful remedy for nail fungus.
The acid in lemon tends to inhibit fungal growth, making it a useful remedy for nail fungus.

6. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice tends to inhibit fungal growth, making it a useful remedy for nail fungus. It is both an antiseptic and antifungal. The citric acid in the juice is what helps stop the fungus from spreading further.

Instructions

Squeeze some lemons to get the fresh juice, and then apply it to the affected nails. Rinse off after about half an hour. Repeat two to three times a day.

Lemon Rub

Another way to apply lemon juice is by mixing equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. Massage this mixture over the affected nails. Olive oil helps soften and moisturize the hardened nail.

7. Oregano Oil

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a common herb, also known as wild marjoram. The essential oil produced by this plant has notable antifungal properties. The oil is very strong, and usually irritates the skin if used as-is. Dilute it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil, before use.

Instructions

Mix one part oregano oil with at least six parts carrier oil. Apply the mixture to the affected nails, leave for at least fifteen minutes, and then rub it off with a paper towel. Repeat three times a day.

Warning: Never take oregano oil internally. (Though the herb itself is perfectly safe to eat, and is used in many Italian recipes.)

8. Epsom Salt

When mixed with warm water, Epsom salt is used to treat sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and ease stress. And when taken orally, it acts as a diuretic. Though Epsom salt will not cure toe fungus, it can help draw moisture out from the affected area.

Instructions

Mix one cup of Epsom salt with two quarts of warm water. Soak feet for 10 to 20 minutes.

Warning: Some infections, such as staph infections, worsen from hot water or salt. Be sure to confirm your particular infection.

9. Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has antibacterial properties and is often used in deodorant, mouthwash, and acne treatments. Like Epsom salt, it can be used to dry out an infection and limit growth. It can also minimize odor, one of the more rare symptoms of nail fungus.

Instructions

Create a paste by combining baking soda with a small amount of water. Apply and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off.

Tip: You can also add some baking soda to a foot soak for an extra kick.

This remedy is easy to administer.
This remedy is easy to administer. | Source

10. Olive Leaf Oil

Olive leaf oil contains oleuropein, which is both antifungal and antimicrobial. It is also immune-boosting and helps your body fight off infections. It can be taken both orally and topically. Taking it orally is less messy and helps you heal from within.

Instructions

Follow the directions on the bottle.

Warning: Talk to your doctor before taking olive leaf extract orally.

Home Remedies for Nail Fungus: Summary

Remedy
Instructions
Coconut oil
Apply a few drops of coconut oil to your nails and surrounding skin. Do this three times a day.
Tea tree oil
Dab a few drops of tea tree oil on the affected areas, let it stand for 15 minutes, and then wipe it off.
Lavender oil
Dab a few drops of lavender oil on the affected areas, let it stand for 15 minutes, and then wipe it off.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
Soak your feet in a foot bath (made with ACV) for about 30 minutes, then dry your feet thoroughly.
Garlic
Smear crushed garlic onto the affected nail, leave for at least 30 minutes, and then rinse clear.
Lemon juice
Apply lemon juice to the affected nails, and then rinse off after about half an hour.
Oregano oil
Apply oregano oil mixture to the affected nails, leave for at least 15 minutes, and then rub it off.
Epsom salt
Mix one cup of Epsom salt with two quarts of warm water. Soak feet for 10 to 20 minutes.
Baking soda
Create a paste by combining baking soda with a small amount of water. Apply and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
Olive leaf oil
Follow the directions on the bottle.

When to Call a Doctor

If home remedies aren't working, it may be time for a second opinion. If you notice your nail turning brown or black and you are experiencing more pain, you should call your doctor. As mentioned previously, people with diabetes are particularly at risk and should get any infection checked out immediately.

Nail Fungus Prevention

Now that you've learned how to beat nail fungus the natural way, take some preventative measures to keep it away for good!

  • Wash your nails regularly.
  • When you trim your nails, be sure to avoid creating any sharp edges.
  • When you get your nails done, be sure that the facility is using a set of sterilized tools for each customer.
  • Limit usage of nail polish and artificial nails.
  • Wear shoes that fit you properly—they shouldn't be touching your toenails.
  • Create a shoe rotation to avoid re-wearing damp shoes.
  • Use an antifungal powder in your shoes.

What Worked for You?

Which nail fungus remedy has worked for you?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Isvaiyah

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        Kellyfg 

        4 weeks ago

        Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful posts

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