Nail fungus is an infection in which fungus or yeast infects a fingernail and/or toenail. The condition is also called as ‘Onychomycosis’, which is characterized by white or yellow spot under the tip of fingernail or toenail. As it spreads deeper into the nail, nail may become thicken, discolored and often painful. Nail fungus ’onychomycosis’ digests the keratin, which is one of the most important constituents of nail. Fungal nail is very common and usually difficult to treat. Infection is usually provoked if nails are continuously exposed to warm and moist environments. Toenails are more commonly affected than fingernails. Nail fungus is more common in older adults as nails grow more slowly and thicken with aging, which make nails more susceptible to infection. Fungus may be transmitted to others who share bathing facilities or footwear.
A fungus belonging to the fungal group dermatophytes, mostly causes nail fungus, but yeasts and molds are also responsible for these infections. These organisms can invade skin through invisible cuts or through small separation between nail and nail bed. The condition is most favorable for the growth of these organisms when nails are exposed to warmth and moisture. Smoking, working in a humid or moist environment, wearing socks and shoes that hold back aeration and walking barefoot in damp places (swimming pool, shower room, etc) are some of the risk factors for the nail fungus. In addition, persons with the disease like diabetes, weak immune system and circulatory problems may be at risk for nail fungus. This fungus may also result form overexposure to water and detergents whereby its growth is encouraged.
Signs and Symptoms:
An obnoxious pain, bad odor and yellow or pale coloration of the nail area are the common symptoms of nail fungus. Nails may turn green or yellow and flaky. The condition often leads to breakdown, brittleness and distorted shape of the nails. Some other symptoms include build up of debris under the nail; discoloration of the entire nails; white spots on the nail surface and separation of the nail from the nail bed.
There are various ways of treatment for the nail fungus. Although in most of the cases antifungal creams are applied; one should be careful whether the medication has penetrated the nail bed or not. Keeping the feet/hands dry and clean would help to pacify the condition of nail fungus. Trimming and thinning the nail plate, taking other oral antifungal medicines and removal of the nail temporarily and treating the area underneath with an antifungal ointment are normally done in severe cases. One should be aware of possible side effects of such medicines before using them.
Natural medical therapy and alternative medicines are useful and are practiced nowadays. These alternative therapies are believed to be safer and effective. These can help restore the normal look of the nails by wiping out nail fungus. Vinegar is used for treating nail fungus, which is topically applied to the nails. Similarly application of essential oils and plant extracts are useful.
Oil of oregano is believed to be effective, which is applied topically. It has deep penetrating power on the nails. It is safe to use and doesn’t have any dangerous side effects.
Olive leaf extract is another important remedy which has active agent known as ‘oleuropein’. It has antimicrobial characteristic and able to fight with infections as well. Some of the herbs shown to have antifungal characteristics are as follows:
Tea Trea Oil (Melaleuca laterifolia): It is believed to reduce inflammation and fungal infections of nail. It is a potent natural antiseptic and fungicide.
Lavendula officinalis: It is known as ‘Lavender’, a sweet-smelling essential oil which has antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citrates : It is helpful in the nail fungus.
Clove Oil (Syzygium aromaticum): It is considered an excellent antifungal and antibiotic essential oil. Clove oil is a well-known antibiotic which improves the health of the nails.
Home Remedy Tips:
Mix 3 drops of the oreganol oil with Emu oil apply to the nail. Emu Oil is a very good carrier oil. It has such a great penetrating property . It can actually bring the oreganol oil to the deeper layer of your nail.