Nail fungus, also referred to as Onychomycosis, is a common problem that numerous individuals struggle with. This condition is often caused by an accumulation of moisture in warm environments, which are the perfect conditions for fungi to thrive. There is a higher susceptibility to nail fungus in individuals who engage in activities such as swimming and heavy sweating as these situations often contribute to the suitable growth environment for fungi.
A nail fungal infection typically manifests initially as a white or yellow spot beneath the tip of a fingernail or toenail. It occurs when fungi infiltrate one or more nails. As a consequence, the nails may discolor and thicken, which can potentially become a significantly painful issue. In severe instances, a nail fungal infection could interfere with an individual’s ability to use their hands or feet effectively.
If left untreated, nail fungus can lead to nail cracking, splitting, and in worst cases, complete loss of the affected toenail. However, it is crucial to note that this condition is treatable and can often be cured at home without incurring substantial costs. Various natural home remedies are capable of treating nail fungus effectively, one of which includes tea tree oil.
Why Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil, derived from the leaves of the Australian tea tree, exhibits several properties that make it an excellent treatment for nail fungus. It’s known for its antibacterial properties, which can help to fight off the fungal infection. Moreover, it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe redness and irritation often accompanying such conditions.
Beyond anecdotal recommendations, a substantial body of research validates the effectiveness of tea tree oil in treating fungal infections. A recent study suggested that tea tree oil, being a natural product, may serve as a superior, non-toxic alternative to allopathic treatments like clotrimazole for treating nail fungal infections. The results found tea tree oil to be highly efficient, promoting it as a potential, natural, and harmless choice for tackling fungal infections.
Therefore, given its substantiated antimicrobial capabilities and its ease of use (since it can be applied topically), tea tree oil has emerged as a popular home remedy for conditions such as fungal nail infections.
Prepare Your Nails Before Applying Tea Tree Oil
Before applying tea tree oil, one must have to make specific preparations on nails to get the best out of tea tree oil.
Step 1: Remove all dead nails using a nail clipper. Make sure you get rid of all the dead nails even if it may consume more time. But in the process, try to avoid cutting off your skin.
Step 2: File down all the infected nails with a coarse nail filer. File away as many dead nails as possible. It is more beneficial to file each nail with medium-grade or fine-grade filers.
Step 3: Clean your fingernails or toenails with soap or lotion along with water to get rid of dust and dirt.
Once this is done, you can apply the oil to your nails, and this is how it is done!
How to Apply Tea Tree Oil on Nails?
Before using tea tree oil, make sure that it is diluted with a carrier oil.
- Pour a few drops of oil directly onto the site or soak a cotton ball in the solution and apply it to the affected nails. Press them gently but firmly so that the liquid comes out.
- Gently scrub the affected nails with the help of a toothbrush to make sure the oil reaches deep into the nails.
- Let it dry out naturally. Meanwhile, you can also soak your feet in a solution containing 4-5 drops of tea tree oil and water.
- Continue this process for about 15-20 minutes. Both these treatments are best when done in the morning or evening.
It is essential to repeat the application of tea tree oil to nails at least twice a day. Repeat the filing procedure once or twice a week for the best results.
Sometimes even following the steps mentioned above on a routine basis will not guarantee the complete removal of infections. In such a case, it is recommended that you consult a podiatrist. A qualified podiatrist will be able to assess your condition and provide you with the best treatment for fungal nail infections.
How to Prevent Toenail Fungus?
Preventing toenail fungus may not be at the top of your to-do list, but perhaps it should be. A healthy foot depends on good hygiene, so it is crucial to keep the toes clean and dry. Follow these six tips to prevent nail fungal infections.
- Short and Clean Nails – Make use of a manicure kit to maintain your nails. Keeping them short and clean will prevent bacteria from getting clogged under the nails.
- Use Protective Gloves – Wear gloves while washing dishes or doing laundry to not only avoid contact with bacteria but also to keep your hands dry.
- Wear Ventilating Socks – If you expect to sweat while wearing socks, avoid both cotton and woolen materials. Opt for synthetic socks instead, as they won’t allow moisture to build up and get trapped inside.
- Wear Shoes in Public Places – Always wear shoes or sandals in shared spaces such as gyms, train stations, malls, etc., to prevent exposure to potential infections.
- Practice Personal Hygiene – Strive to maintain good hygiene and allow maximum airflow to reach your nails. This can be achieved by avoiding tight shoes that create a sweaty environment for your nails. Open-toed shoes are a better option to promote airflow.
By following these precautions, you can minimize the risk of developing toenail fungus and maintain healthier feet.
Potential Side Effects of Tea Tree Oil
Due to its numerous medicinal values, tea tree oil has found itself an active ingredient in many cosmetic products ranging from soaps, and lotions to skin or foot care products. But still, it is essential to be aware of the possible risks that come along with the overuse of tea tree oil.
One of the most common side effects that are associated with tea tree oil is skin irritation. It may lead to redness, itchiness, or inflammation in some extreme cases. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to conduct a patch test before using the oil extensively. Some individuals may be allergic to certain components present in tea tree oil, causing their bodies to react adversely. Pregnant women are especially advised to consult their doctors before using any essential oils, such as tea tree oil.
As a general rule of thumb, no matter how potent an oil seems, always carry out an allergy test before applying it regularly. With a careful and patient approach to treatment, desired results can often be achieved. We’re quite interested in hearing about your experiences with tea tree oil, and if you’ve explored any other potential remedies for nail fungal infections, we warmly invite you to share them with us.