Are you too embarrassed to wear open toed shoes because your toenails look like they belong on a creature from Jurassic Park?


The yellow-white discolouration, nail thickening and crumbling are characteristics of a fungal nail infection or onychomycosis. Skin fungi called dermatophytes cause it, but yeasts and mould can also be involved.


Risk factors for fungal nail infections


  • Damage to nail
  • Frequent immersion in water
  • Regularly wearing enclosed footwear
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Athlete’s foot or tinea
  • Compromised immunity


Fungal nail infections are often considered more of a cosmetic dilemma, however in some cases they may make wearing footwear tuncomfortable and walking painful. Left untreated they can cause permanent damage to the nail bed.

**If you have diabetes or any circulation disorder you should always seek medical advice for any changes in your toes/nails.


Natural treatment of fungal nail infections


Fungal nail infections can be stubborn and difficult to treat as the nail grows slowly and the nail bed is challenging to reach. You’ll need to be committed to a course of treatment for at least 3-6 months. Natural treatments involve foot hygiene, topical therapy and building a robust immune system.


Foot hygiene

  • Thoroughly dry toenails and in-between toes after bathing/showering
  • Limit the amount of time in enclosed shoes
  • Alternate shoes daily, giving time for them to air out
  • Change socks regularly, choose natural fibres
  • Wear thongs/flip flops in public places with wet areas such as showers, change rooms


Topical treatments

Tea tree oil and coconut oil

Mix 5-10 drops of tea tree or Manuka essential oil into 10 mL of coconut oil and massage affected area twice a day


Vinegar foot bath soak

Lightly file affected nail with an emery board. Use 1 part white vinegar to 1 part warm water and soak feet for 10-15 minutes twice a day.


You can combine the two topical treatments for increased effectiveness. I’ve also heard vodka is effective as a foot soak as well although I’ve never tried it. I can think of much better things to do with vodka!!


Support your immune system

Fungus and yeasts tend to find it easier to take hold if your immune system is weak.


Immune support

  • Eat a healthy diet to nourish your body
  • Cut back on sugar, refined carbohydrates, processed food and alcohol. Yeasts like Candida albicans proliferate when given access to simple sugars. Cut off their food supply!
  • Use herbal immune restoratives and antifungals internally such as Echinacea, Pau d’arco, and Calendula. Be sure to get professional advice for dosage range and suitability.


Have you successfully treated a fungal nail infection? Don’t keep it a secret, share in the comments below!

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Need help with your wellbeing?

Norelle Hentschel is an experienced Naturopath with a clinic in Stones Corner, Brisbane who enjoys supporting her clients to reach their health goals.


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