Let's go back to the beginning. It started when I removed my nail polish one day and noticed a spot at the top of my right big toe. It was under the nail and it was slightly yellow and went into the nail bed a bit. I thought maybe I bumped it somewhere and part of it had bruised so I grabbed some tweezers and used one side to scrape out the yellow stuff. I cleaned it up with some rubbing alcohol, repainted and thought that was it. A few weeks later when I was changing my polish again I noticed it went down further under my nail now. I figured I had a problem so I looked it up online and found WEB MD's site. I realized it was nail fungus and decided that I better get something to fix it so I headed to the drugstore.
It was August when I bought a popular brand of nail fungus treatment and started using it. Almost 2 months later there was still no progress, in fact it had gotten worse. I decided to try another OTC product but it was so strong it dissolved my nail polish every time I put it under my nail! It didn't help even a little and think of how strong and toxic it had to be to eat away nail polish! 3 days of that was enough. I tried one more drugstore product for about a month before I decided to do more research and turn to essential oils.
I learned that fungal infections like the warm socks and closed toe boots I was wearing since it was now fall. I turned to Tea Tree oil since it has anti fungal properties. Since fungal infections thrive on warmth and moisture I decided to clip away every bit of the affected nail. My reasoning was by removing the nail, moisture couldn't be trapped underneath it anymore. Plus it had lifted from the nail bed and was just kind of hovering there anyway...getting worse daily. That meant baring my nail bed where the fungus was. (If you do this be VERY careful not to cut into the nail bed or remove the nail in places the infection is not present) I very gently clipped it away with cuticle clippers then soaked my foot in epsom salts and warm water for about 15 minutes. I then used a washcloth to gently rub off the affected skin. I buffed the edges of the nail smooth with an emery board that I then threw away. It wasn't uncomfortable at all, but if you do this and it feels unpleasant just stop and move to the next step. I then dried my feet well and used a q-tip to apply tea tree oil to the whole nail. I started by applying the tea tree oil 3 times a day. After the nail started growing in healthy I switched to twice a day, morning and night.
(this is how the nail looked after I started the EO in November. The main picture above without nail polish is May. The polish picture is June)
I was doing this about a month when I realized that I probably had it on both feet since a toenail on the other foot had started to thicken considerably. I also noticed the toenail next to the original problem nail seemed a little thicker *sigh*. I started applying the Tea Tree oil under and on top of those nails also. It took several months for the first toenail to grow back in completely and during that time I applied the EO twice daily to all 3 nails. Unfortunately it's not uncommon for nail fungus to spread to other nails. I caught these 2 much earlier though so they cleared up rather quickly. It was 6 months total between when I started using the Tea Tree oil and when the nail was completely grown back in and fungus free.
While I am extremely grateful I managed to clear it up without having to take oral medications long term, it's easier to simply avoid getting fungus to begin with. Sadly it's not something you can see and since it is spread by contact with other people who have it, places like pools and shared showers are a breeding ground for this type of fungus. These are my tips for avoiding fungal infections:
- Dry your feet thoroughly after showering, bathing or swimming.
- Wear sandals or breathable shoes as often as possible. Let shoes dry overnight before you wear them again.
- Take your own pedicure tools when going to a salon, or visit a salon that keeps separate tools for each client. (they may charge a kit fee, but it's worth it!)
- Do not share nail files, clippers, or other nail care tools.
- Wear socks inside your shoes.
- Wear flip-flops in walking areas of water parks, pools and other wet public areas, such as locker rooms or showers.
I am not a doctor or podiatrist nor do I claim to be. I am not trained in any medical field, I am simply passing on information that has worked for me. If you think you may have a fungal infection of your nails please do some research (the Web MD link above is click-able) and educate yourself before trying any at home cure.
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