Dermatophytes are a class of fungus that causes chronic infections of the toenail. It feeds on keratin, the substance that nails are made of. It is very contagious. It deforms and distorts the toenail, and contributes to secondary infections around the nail bed. If it becomes deeply embedded, it can be very difficult to treat.
Symptoms and Causes
The symptoms can include a discolored, thickened, or curling toenail. The skin surrounding it is often red. It may be inflamed and itch. Since fungus thrives in damp and dark places, moisture is essential for growth. It can’t survive in sunlight. Dematophytes are also mostly anaerobic, meaning they cultivate in situations with little oxygen.
Wearing socks with shoes that can’t breathe, such as tennis shoes, is a common cause of this condition. It may also spread by sharing shoes or walking barefoot in public places. Those with a weak immune system or unbalanced skin PH are most susceptible. Swimming pools, shower floors, and public gyms provide ideal living conditions.
Toenail fungus can be very hard to get rid of. There are two main reasons why. The first is because it will invade deep into the tissue underneath the toenail. This makes it difficult for remedies to reach the organism causing the infection.
The second reason that it is difficult to treat is due to compliance issues. It takes serious discipline and commitment to treat the problem over a long period. It also requires that adjustments be made to foot care practices. Otherwise, the infection may never go away completely or return frequently.
Modern medical science has addressed these issues by creating an oral medication that is usually highly effective. Some people question the safety of using oral medications, or find that medical treatment is too expensive for them. This leads them to choose home remedies and over the counter products. These methods have varying degrees of success. Here are the top four toenail fungus remedies:
• Listerine mouthwash is a strong antiseptic. Being both antibacterial and antifungal, it can e used to treat infections of the toenail bed. Feet must be soaked everyday for 20-40 minutes. It normally takes about two weeks of regular treatment to see an improvement.
• Apple Cider Vinegar is another popular folk remedy. It has been used for generations to treat wounds and kill fungus. Since it is a mild acid, it must also be used long term. It is probably best for preventing the spread of the fungus. As a soak, it should be used for 20-40 minutes.
• Grapefruit extract and Tea Tree Oil can be extremely helpful in many situations. The grapefruit seed extract is often used to disinfect food items, as it is exceedingly safe. Add several drops to a quart of water and soak feet for 20 minutes. The Tea Tree oil is applied after the foot has been thoroughly dried. It is helpful to clean out underneath the toenail first so that the oil can penetrate.
• Chlorine, in the form of household bleach, will kill toenail fungus. It should be diluted in a fair amount of water prior to soaking. Care should be taken not to inhale the fumes, as they can be toxic. To use this remedy, dilute ½ cup of household bleach in a gallon of water and soak feet for 20 minutes daily. Since it is very drying to the skin, apply a moisturizer afterwards.