I couldn’t believe it.¬† I knew my mom had been struggling with a discolored toe for some time, but toenail fungus?¬† What made it worse was that apparently my mother never sought treatment.¬† And her toe nail?¬† I would like to say it got better, but the truth is, it ultimately had to be surgically removed.¬† Things could have been much different if she‚Äôd heard of tea tree oil.
What is toenail fungus?
The fancy name for fungal infections of the nails is called onychomycosis and it can be a long term, sometimes painful and embarrassing problem.¬† The predicament is caused by a specific type of fungus, deratophytes, that continues to dig and force its way onto, in, and under the nail.
¬†How the Heck Did I Get It?
Unfortunately, you can pick up a fungus almost anywhere that fungi love to live.¬† Fungus is like the mafia, living in dark, moist and damp environments, waiting to make its move.¬† That means the swimming pool, locker rooms, showers, baths and those stinky old sneakers you wish your husband would throw away.¬† So why does it attack your toenails and not fingernails?
The answer goes back to the favorite haunts of fungus.¬† Fingernails live out in the open air and toes spend most of their time in the deep dark and moist recesses of your shoes and socks.¬† People who are more likely to sweat or who get athlete‚Äôs foot may be more vulnerable.
There is also some information that those with diabetes or any immune deficiency condition, or those with poor circulation may also be more susceptible.
¬†How Do I Know If I Have It?
You should watch for a yellow or sometimes white area that presents itself under the tip of a toenail.
This spot begins to expand, thicken and causes the nail to twist or warp as the fungal infection spreads. If allowed to persist, you will see the nail start to grow a crust and become discolored and darken in tone.¬† There can even be pain and a separating of the toenail from the foot.¬† In severe cases, the toenail may even be lost.
What Can I Do About It?
Let‚Äôs start by talking about antifungal creams.¬† The bad news is they just do not seem to work well and they take months and months of application.
What about oral medications?¬† Well, this may not be a route you want to take if you are concerned about the possible side effects of skin rashes and liver damage.¬† If you do decide to go down the medication road, you‚Äôll want a little information.¬† Basically, the medications approved in the United States are terbinafine (brand name: Lamisil) and itraconazole (brand name: Sporanox or Onmel).¬† Out of the two oral medications, it appears terbinafine is the most effective since it provided a 60% cure rate after 16 weeks.¬† I wouldn‚Äôt even consider itraconazole as it appears to have more severe side effects and patients taking pulse itraconazole 1 week per month for 3 to four months only had a 32% cure rate.
The only FDA approved topical treatment for onychomycosis in the United States is ciclopirox 8% in a lacquer formulation.¬† In studies the lacquer was applied for 48 weeks and it only had a partial success of 28% 30% with a complete cure of less than half of that.
So, drugs can work but they have side effects and the lacquer treatment is lack luster (pun intended) indeed.
Enter Tea Tree Oil Toenail Fungus Treatment
Many respected authorities and others recommend using the all natural essential oil from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant of Australia to treat your toenail fungus.¬† Tea tree oil, as it is commonly called, has had great success in helping to resolve this terrible problem.
In fact, there are double-blind studies where it was found that patients, who applied tea tree oil to their fungus infested feet twice daily for six months had a 60% success rate.
Most resources suggest painting tea tree oil on your nail twice a day for at least two months; however, once the nail is infected by fungus, the menace has a bad reputation for wanting to return.¬† For this reason you should consider longer tea tree oil / toenail fungus application periods.
Although this may seem odd, there is also a recommendation that to speed along the process, you should consider ingesting two cloves of garlic daily as garlic contains potent anti-fungal properties.
Of course, there is always the option of combining therapies and you should consult your physician if you think this is a route that may be best for you.
Ingredients For Tea Tree Oil Toenail Fungus Treatment:
- 2-3 drops tea tree oil
- Cotton swab
¬†How to Treat Toenail Fungus With Tea Tree Oil:
Soak the cotton swab in tea tree oil and then apply to the affected area.¬† Make sure you cover the area sufficiently.¬† Try to get underneath and around the toenail with the tea tree oil solution.¬† Allow to dry overnight.¬† Repeat once or twice daily with the tea tree oil solution until the problem is resolved.¬† Usually the treatment works within 3 to 4 months depending upon the severity of the problem.
Use and Tips For Tea Tree Oil / Toenail Fungal Treatment:
- Try to keep your feet and toes as dry as possible.
- DO NOT use toe nail polish.
- Make sure you wash your hands after every application.
- Change your socks daily.
- Keep your toenails shorter than the tips of your toes
- If you can, keep your toes out of shoes and allow them access to sunlight and air
- Be very liberal in the application of tea tree oil.
Nail Fungus Condition Care Guide.¬† Andrew Weil, M. D. www.dr.weil.com http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03139/Nail-Fungus.html
Gupta AK, Fleckman P, Baran R. Ciclopirox nail lacquer topical solution 8% in the treatment of toenail onychomycosis J Am Acad Dermatol.¬† 2000; 43(4 suppl): S70-S80. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11051136
Sigurgeirsson B,¬† Olafsson J, Steinsson J, Paul C, Billstein S, Evans E.G.V.¬† Long-term Effectiveness of Treatment with Terbinafine vs Itraconazole in Onychomycosis.¬†¬† A 5-year Blinded Prospective Follup-Study¬† JAMA Dermatology, March 2002 Vol 138, No. 3 http://archderm.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=478735
Buck DS, Nidorf DM, Addino JG Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazone J Fam Pract 1994 June: 38(6): 601-5. http://archderm.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=478735
By: Michelle Glover ‚ÄúThe Tea Tree Expert.‚ÄĚ¬† If you liked this article and would like more tea tree oil information you can visit me at www.theTeaTreeOilReview.com where you‚Äôll find a whole host of tea tree recipes, information, uses and tea tree product reviews.