Sorry this is not the most glamourous of posts, but it has been requested by a few, is a very common problem and is surprisingly easy to treat at home. I even have a bravely donated photo!
With the gyms and swimming pools closed for business until lockdown is over, many of us will be taking to the streets to exercise. Whether choosing to run or walk, our trainers are going to be getting some good use. And if they start to wear and tear, whilst the shops are also shut, it will be difficult to get some good fitting new ones.
Add to this, that Summer is on its way, our feet are hotting up and some of us may be encountering an extremely common problem, Fungal Toenail.
Fungal toenails affect around 1 in 4 people at any given time according to the British Skin Foundation.
Signs and symptoms
Because we don’t tend to pay too much attention to our feet, you may not know if you have an infection until it starts to hurt. But if you keep an regular eye on your toes you can see the warning signs.
The nail tends to discolour and turn hard and thick. There may be dark brown debris under the nail that pushes the it outwards.
The nail become brittle and may crack. There could even be a bad odour, if you can get your nose down there to smell.
Sadly, fungal toenails tend to stick around until you do something about them.
Fungal toenail is contagious
Another danger is fungal toenail is contagious and can grow and spread to other people and even other parts of your own body!
So, if you are living with someone you should be very careful not to spread it. Never share nail scissors, clippers or files. In fact, you should really disinfect the scissors with each toe if they’re not all infected.
If someone else in your house has the issue, then borrowing their slippers or shoes to put the bin out is a no no. Even towels or their side of the bed should be off limits for now.
Although nail polish is a temping way to cover it up, it shouldn’t be worn until you’re free from infection. Nail polish stops the nail breathing, and insures a lovely warm and wet environment for fungus to breed.
Fortunately, fungal toenail is very simple to treat. Not only that, you probably have some, if not all, of the remedies at home.
Here’s what to do:
Firstly, prevention is always better than cure. Make sure your shoes aren’t too small or tight and keep your toenails well-trimmed. If they are too long, they’ll rub on your running shoes. If the nail gets damaged or bruised, it’s easier for the fungus to get in.
Dry your running shoes thoroughly after every run by putting them in the sun or near a radiator instead of throwing them in a kit bag. If you can take out the insole to let it dry more easily, do that after every run. Some running shoes will withstand the dryer or a hairdryer, but some won’t. If you’re running often and find they’re not drying in time you may considerer having a spare pair. Also make sure you hot wash your socks. Always dry feet thoroughly after bathing. Now onto treatment….
2. Soak your foot in ACV
Pure 100% Apple Cider Vinegar makes a very effective home remedy. It creates and acid environment that is strong enough to kill fungal infections but mild enough not to harm your nails or skin.
Mix equal parts of ACV with water and soak the toe or entire foot if infected in the solution for 20 minutes morning and night. If there’s only one toenail infected, I’ve been known to saturate a cotton wool pad in ACV and tape it around the toe, leaving it for as long as I can (sometimes overnight).
I’ve used this method on my children’s swimming verruca’s and literally seen them disappear in under a week. Then wondered why I spent months painting acid and painfully digging out mine with scissors when I was young.
3. Essential oils
Certain essential oils are good for fighting fungus and helping soothe the surrounding skin. The best oil for treating fungal toenails is Tea Tree oil. Scientific research has proved it’s antifungal and antibacterial capabilities. Other essential oils that contain antifungal properties include thyme, oregano, neem, eucalyptus and lavender. Simply rub a drop on the infected toenail after the foot soak.
4. Basic kitchen items
If you don’t have any essential oils in the house, you could cut a slice of raw garlic or onion and tape it over the toenail, cover with a larger plaster and leave it overnight. Coconut oil also has antifungal properties. It’s amazing what simple kitchen items can be used in a medicinal way.
How long will it take to clear?
The longer you’ve had the infection, the harder it will be to treat it. However, you could see improvements in a matter of days. Never to stop treating a fungal infection too early or it will more than likely return. Fungus is highly resilient, and as we tend to keep our feet covered in socks and shoes even in Summer, the warm, dark and often damp environment will favour its growth. Some very deep infections will take a few months.
If the fungal toenail fails to go away, there may be an underlying medical problem that you should get checked out.
Take the opportunity to treat that fungal toenail or verruca and get rid of it for good. OR as a prevention simply stay shoe free during lockdown.
There are many health benefits to walking barefoot.