Toenail fungus is a common problem faced by many people. Nails become flaky, thick and may change shape, there is discoloration, redness around the nail and pain or discomfort, if pressure is put on the nail or something, falls on it. In the winter time, it is easier to ignore, but when it is time for sandals, sunbathing, swimming it is an unsightly problem that is embarrassing. Treatment, whichever option you choose, is long too. There is no quick for fungus nails, any product claiming you will have a healthy looking nail in under 6 months is untrustworthy. It takes 6 to 9 months for a healthy nail to grow through if the treatment is being successful.
Treatment options are medications, usually in the form of oral pills, used for severe fungus nails as these come with potentially serious side effects including liver problems. Over-the-counter options include natural oils and combinations of active ingredients. Or there are home remedies, most of which have no scientific base but have sufferers claiming they have tried them and they have worked for them. Tea tree oil for toenail fungus is something you can use at home but really comes under the over the counter treatments option.
Tea tree oil is a natural oil that has anti-fungal properties. As well as being used in many over the counter manufactured products for the treatment of nail fungus, it is used for yeast infections too. A few reasons why you might choose tea tree oil for toenail fungus treatment are:
Here is a brief look at a few studies done on the effectiveness of tea tree oil for toenail fungus.
A study looking at the effectiveness of tea tree oil published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and International Health found that while effective, it was more so when combined with a prescribed anti-fungal.
Another study looked at how effective butenafine and tea tree oil were combined, 60 patients with toenail fungus were looked at and were divided into two groups, those on a placebo and those on tea tree oil and butenafine cream. Treatment went on for 4 months and it was found 80% of those on the tea tree oil combination treatment were cured and in the follow-up of those patients, the fungus did not return.
Finally in a study done in New York tea tree oil was compared against 1% clotrimazole (an anti-fungal drug). 117 patients participated, both treatments were applied twice a day for six months. At the end of the study researchers found tea tree oil was 64% more effective than the medication.
There are several manufactured brands that have tee tree oil as one of the active ingredients and these all come with instructions on how to use them. The important thing to remember with any treatment is patience, as there is no quick fix, you need to remember to apply every day and it may be months before a completely healthy nail grows through. To use just tea tree oil you just soak a Q-tip in the oil then wipe it over and under the infected nail or nails, every morning and every evening, every day until the fungus is gone. Be consistent. An optional step is to also use a tea tree oil moisturizer in the nail and toe after applying just the oil treatment.
Some people may have sensitive skin and have a reaction to the tea tree oil, so if you think this may be a problem for you do a small skin test first. Some people try a combination of remedies with the tea tree oil such as Vaseline and tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar, Vicks, iodine. As with any alternative treatment be prepared that though tea tree oil for toenail fungus is effective for many people, it may be that it does not work for you, and you might have to try something else.
Dr. Soumya Podduturi is an Aesthetic Dermatologist, Dermatologist, Dermatosurgeon, Trichologist, Pediatric Dermatologist, Cosmetologist with 8 Years Experience