Toenail fungus- it’s unsightly, unpleasant, and amazingly prevalent. In fact, it’s the most common disease of the nails and constitutes about a half of all nail abnormalities. The prevalence of nail fungus is around 6-8% in the adult population. Onychomycosis can persist painlessly for years, and by the time it’s visible the infection is advanced and can spread to all the other toenails or even fingernails.
Despite being widespread, there are many misconceptions about getting and treating toenail fungus.
General Myths about Toenail Fungus:
1.) Toenail fungus won’t happen to me/toenail fungus is rare.
- As we mentioned above, toenail fungus is relatively common, particularly among adults. Additionally, there are risk factors to be aware of, such as: diabetes, circulatory trouble, general aging, or immune-deficiency disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. People who frequent public swimming pools, gyms, or shower rooms and people who sweat excessively and/or are required to wear closed-toed footwear are also at increased risk of toenail fungus. However, it can happen to anyone, anytime.
2.) Toenail fungus can’t be cured.
- Completely untrue. A skilled podiatrist is your best bet to treating toenail fungus and will form a plan to ensure it won’t come back.
3.) Toenail fungus requires the removal of the nail.
- In some rare, advanced cases the nail might need to be removed; this is why it is imperative to see your podiatrist as soon as possible. By catching toenail fungus early, your podiatrist is able to treat it more effectively and avoid worst-case-scenarios like removal of the toenail.
4.) Toenail fungus is a sign of being unhygienic.
- False. Hygiene is always advised, but as described in myth #1 there are plenty of cases where individuals have toenail fungus despite best foot hygiene practices. There’s nothing to be ashamed or and no reason to hide it- seek help from your podiatrist as soon as possible.
5.) Toenail fungus treatment requires strong antibiotics or other medication.
- No way! One of our favorite, holistic remedies is application of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a powerful antiseptic that can be applied topically to destroy any harmful microbes on the skin. It is a safe, effective natural remedy and a great alternative to over-the-counter anti-fungal creams which usually do not cure nail fungus, and oral medications, which can suppress the body’s ability to fight infections on its own.
- One simple method is to apply the oil directly to the affected nails. Using a cotton ball, gently swab the area under the nail and around the nail with pure oil or with tea tree oil that has been diluted with distilled water. Do this three times a day.
- Another method to use tea tree to destroy nail fungus is to soak the feet. Add one cup of epsom salts to a basin filled with hot water. Epsom salts will help to destroy the fungi as well as any harmful bacteria. Also add four to five drops of tea tree essential oil. Soak the feet for fifteen minutes. Be sure to dry the toes well after soaking. Repeat this anti-fungal soak every day for at least one week to really combat toenail fungus.
Aside from using tea tree oil regularly to help clear up nail fungus, be sure to keep the feet clean, dry and well ventilated. Always wear clean socks and remove shoes whenever possible. Also, eat a healthy diet that is rich in yogurt, fresh vegetables and whole grains to support the immune system- keep sugar low, for your general health and well being. All of these steps will not only help to get rid of toenail fungus, but they will also prevent an infection from recurring.
Do you or a loved one suffer from toenail fungus? If so, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Weinert today! If you’d like, we’ll send you a FREE copy of Dr. Weinert’s book on foot pain, called Stop Feet Pain Fast, if you fill out your information at the link.