Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated August 23, 2013)
The only welcome kind of fungus is the mushrooms in your salad—and for many mushroom-haters, no fungus is good fungus. Everyone will agree that this is especially true for toenail fungus. You can tell if your nail is infected by a yellow or brown discoloration that may include streaks or spots. The nail may become thick, overgrown, and it may be painful to wear shoes. Your nail may emit an unpleasant odor. While some infections are only unsightly, others can lead to serious complications like ingrown toenails that must be corrected with surgery.
You can prevent toenail fungus by washing your feet after visiting public places like swimming pools (or wear flip flops), regularly wearing cotton socks, thoroughly drying feet after swimming or bathing, trimming nails regularly, and avoiding nail polish. But how do you get rid of this unwelcome fungus visitor once you find you have it? Plenty of over-the-counter medications can do the trick, but many natural remedies from items you already have stocked in your cupboards will also work. Popular remedies, in various concoctions and applications, include tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, lemongrass essential oil, oil of oregano, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, distilled vinegar, iodine, Listerine, and Vicks Vaporub. Most of these ingredients are acidic, which discourage fungus growth. Length of treatment differs from case to case, but make sure you continue all treatments at least three weeks after symptoms have seemed to disappear. Try any of the following:
You can also try attacking the fungus from the inside out with a diet high in probiotics (yogurt) and low in sugar, in addition to any of these treatments. While some cases can disappear in as little as four days with these home remedies, others can take up to six months. You decide how long you will wait: If home remedies aren't working, you might consider an over-the-counter product or seeing a doctor.
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