Home remedies can be used to treat everything from cellulite to croup, and nail fungus is no exception. You can go about treating your nail fungus in several ways. If your condition is especially serious, though, consult your doctor or podiatrist.
Nail fungus can not only make you self-conscious about your hands or feet, but also lead to problems such as broken, cracked or thickened nails. In turn, these injuries may make you vulnerable to a more serious infection. Especially vulnerable are the elderly and those with diabetes, author Doug Dollemore writes in "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Seniors." While a prescription anti-fungal medication may be your best bet, some determined do-it-yourselfers often decide to try home remedies as the first line of defense.
Horsetail, often recommended for strengthening brittle nails, may also help treat nail fungus. Look for this herb, commonly considered a weed, in moist, shady places. The Herb Companion magazine recommends boiling 1 cup chopped horsetail in 4 cups apple cider vinegar. Boil for just a few minutes before taking the pot off the stove and letting the mixture steep overnight. Strain into a plastic container and use this mixture to soak your feet or hands. Use daily for about two weeks.
Tea tree and oregano essential oils enjoy strong reputations as nail fungus eradicators, notes the home remedy website Grannymed.com. Both have strong anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties because they contain terpenes, the website notes. Oil of oregano carries the additional advantage of being an anti-inflammatory, which helps in some cases of toenail fungus. You may find even small vials of the essential oil, prohibitively expensive. Tea tree oil, in contrast, costs less and may be as effective as prescription formulas for fighting nail fungus. Add 1 or 2 drops of either tea tree or oregano essential oil to 1 oz. olive oil. Use a cotton ball to apply to the affected nails three times a day.
The Diet Connection
Eating foods containing probiotics may not only help regulate digestion, but also treat fungal disorders, notes Grannymed. Some physicians believe that those with an internal bacterial imbalance are susceptible to fungal disorders. Add foods rich in probiotics to your diet, including yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir. If you prefer, take probiotic supplements.
The 120-year-old cold remedy Vicks VapoRub seems to turn up in an endless number of home remedies, including nail fungus cures. Theoretically, the treatment works because Vicks contains three essential oils that, like tea tree and oregano oils, contain terpenes--in this case, eucalyptus, camphor and menthol. If you’re interested in trying this anecdotal cure for nail fungus, apply to your affected nails twice a day. Another popular product just as old as Vicks--Listerine mouthwash--is perennially mentioned as a home remedy for nail fungus. Like Vicks, Listerine contains terpine-rich menthol and eucalyptus, as well as thyme oil and wintergreen oil. To try the Listerine cure, soak the affected nails in the liquid mouthwash twice a day for at least 15 minutes.
If you're on a tight budget or have a restrictive insurance plan, a home remedy may be a logical first defense against nail fungus. Additionally, a prescription anti-fungal may interfere with other medications, notes "The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Seniors." If you enjoy working with essential oils or wildcrafting for herbs, making a home remedy for nail fungus may seem like the logical first step. Finally, trying a home remedy saves the time and cost of visiting a physician--but if the problem doesn't improve after trying your chosen home remedy, don't hesitate to call your doctor.