Black toenail fungus, medically known as onychomycosis, is a common condition that's difficult to cure. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), toenail fungus is an infection that develops under the surface of your nails. Symptoms of black toenail fungus include thickened, brittle and discolored nails. Many people also experience pain when walking and notice a foul smell coming from their toes. People with toenail injuries, diabetes, athlete's foot or compromised immune systems are most at risk of developing black fungus infections. Here are a few remedies to treat them.
Natural Treatments & Remedies
Natural anti-fungal remedies are some of the most popular and effective ways of dealing with black fungus growing on your thickened toenails. Use essential oils such as tea tree oil, jojoba oil, rosemary oil, lavender oil and coconut oil, which contain antimicrobial properties that fight black fungus and bacteria growing under your toenails. Soak a cotton ball in an essential oil and apply the cotton to your infected toenails for about 10 minutes. Repeat this treatment several times daily. Alternatively, you can fill a bucket with warm water and add a few teaspoons of your favorite essential oils to the water. Soak your toes for about 20 to 30 minutes, at least two times per day.
Fill a bucket with warm water and add about 2 cups of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Soak your toes for about 20 to 30 minutes, at least two times per day. Another option is to mix about 4 oz. each of warm water and vinegar inside a small cup and apply the mixture to your toenails using a cotton ball. You can use hydrogen peroxide instead of the vinegar.
Soak a cotton ball in a small cup of original Listerine antiseptic mouthwash. Apply the cotton to the infected nail bed for about 15 minutes daily to destroy black fungal growth, according to Fine Medical Advice. Listerine also can be combined with equal parts vinegar for an even more effective black fungus treatment. Soak your toenails in the mixture for about 30 minutes, or apply the mixture to your toenails using a cotton ball. Vicks VapoRub also can help black toenail fungus. Rub a small amount on your toenails, and cover your feet with white cotton socks. It's best to do this treatment every night before you go to sleep.
Medical Treatments & Remedies
Natural remedies are not always enough to treat stubborn black fungus. If your toenail fungus is severe and painful or if you have diabetes, seek medical attention. Your doctor may recommend one of several popular over-the-counter medications for you to use, or he may prescribe a topical or oral antifungal medication. Some over-the-counter medications you may want to try are Loprox, Lotrimin, Lamisil, Micatin and Oxistat. These same medications are available with a prescription. Other effective prescription antifungal medications are Fulvicin, Sporanox and Diflucan.
Unlike natural remedies, over-the-counter and prescription medications may cause side effects. Your doctor or podiatrist can recommend a medication that's best for you. In rare cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove an infected toenail.
Prevention is the most effective fungus remedy. Changing certain habits and practicing proper hygiene can reduce recurrent black fungus infections. Always dry your feet and toenails thoroughly after bathing. Fungus thrives on damp toenails. Always keep your toenails clean and trimmed. Avoid wearing nail polishes while treating your fungal infection. According to the Mayo Clinic, nail polish traps moisture on your toenails and can worsen your infection. APMA recommends wearing shoes that fit properly and are made of breathable materials. Also, wear socks that absorb moisture, not trap it. It's important to keep your feet dry at all times. Avoid walking barefoot in public places such as showers, swimming pools, gyms, spas and locker rooms.