Toenail fungus is a very common infection and can be difficult to treat. Known medically as onychomycosis, nail fungus often causes the end of the nail to separate from the rest of the nail. White, green, yellow or black residues can accumulate under the nail plate and cause discoloration. This infection occurs more frequently in the toenails, because usually our toenails are continually exposed to warm and moist environments such as sweaty shoes. The toenail fungus infection is not the same as athlete’s foot, which primarily affects the skin of the feet.
The body normally hosts a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these microorganisms are useful to the body. Others may multiply rapidly and cause infections. Onychomycosis can be caused by many different types of fungus (microscopic organisms related to mold). These organisms thrive in dark and humid environments and as they grow, they feed on keratin, the protein that makes up the hard surface of the toenails.
The prevalence of this condition among elderly individuals and diabetics is 25%. In the past this disease was very rare. Today it is more widespread due to the increased exposure to fungus through the use of showering facilities in gyms and the use of hot tubs, saunas and public pool areas. Some of the risk factors for developing this condition include old age, gender, nail trauma, sweaty feet, poor circulation, poor hygiene, and a compromised immune system. Athletes also tend to have a higher rate of fungal infection compared to non-athletes. The moisture caused by the shoes combined with repeated traumas increase the chances of onychomycosis.
Toenail fungus rarely heals on its own. It is usually a chronic condition that progresses gradually and becomes worse over time. Even if the affected nail falls off, the new nail will also be infected with the fungus.
How to treat toenail fungus:
- Use apple cider vinegar: apple cider vinegar is an effective and inexpensive home remedy. Simply put a few drops of apple cider vinegar on your toenails or soak your toenails in a reservoir with vinegar for at least 20 minutes. Of course, you will need to continue this treatment for several months.
- Use tea tree oil but make sure it is 100% tea tree oil. Apply one drop of this oil to the affected area every day to eliminate the condition.
- Use Listerine: this can also be an effective and cheap treatment. You simply need to soak your toenails in a bowl of Listerine, which has antiseptic properties.