Nail fungus or Onychomycosis can be a difficult situation to deal with. It is a common occurrence in people who live in warmer regions where fungus thrives. It is usually caused by fungal growth in the nail bed due to trapped moisture and can also occur due to swimming or excessive sweating.
The fungal infection first begins to appear as a yellow or white coloured spot under the tip of the toenail or finger. With time, this infection can lead to the decolourization and thickening of the nails. In severe cases, it can even affect the person’s ability to use his fingers, toes, hands or feet. Timely treatment of the infection can cure it completely. However, if left untreated, it can even lead to cracking, splitting and eventually the loss of a toenail.
Does Tea Tree Oil Work for Nail Fungus?
There are many natural home remedies that can be used to treat nail fungus. One such effective remedy is using tea tree oil. Multiple studies over the years have proven the age-old remedy of tea tree oils for nail fungus. This includes a 2013 study that proves that tea tree oil successfully reduced the growth of the Trichophyton rubrum virus, a virus that commonly causes infections such as nail fungus and athlete’s foot in just 14 days. In 1999, a study was done on people suffering from toenail fungus where they consistently used a medicated cream that contained tea tree oil and butenafine hydrochloride and as a result, they did not have any fungal infections or relapses.
Other studies have shown that tea tree oil has strong antifungal properties which make it effective in the treatment of nail fungus, without recurrences.
Is Tea Tree Oil Safe for Nail Fungus?
Since essential oils such as tea tree oils are derived from natural sources, it is generally safe to use the oil topically, if the essential oil is suitably diluted.
Because of the potency of the oil, it is always advised to dilute the oil in a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or coconut oil. For every 1-2 drops of tea tree oil, have ½-1 teaspoon of the carrier oil. Apply a few drops of the oil on your forearm to do a patch test. If you do not develop any allergic symptoms such as redness, irritation or inflammation, the oil is safe to use. If any allergic reaction is caused, discontinue use immediately.
It is advised to never use the oil for internal uses. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must use the oil only after consulting with a physician. Avoid using tea tree oil for children and pets.
Why Do We Use Tea Tree Oil for Nail Fungus?
Tea tree oil has extensive applications for beauty and health. It is an inexpensive essential oil that has antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal properties. The antibiotic properties of the oil fight against ailments such as burns, skin infections and skin disorders such as eczema.
The antifungal properties of the oil cure fungal infections on the nails and improve the health and appearance of the nails.
How To Prepare Nails Before Applying Tea Tree Oil?
Before you use tea tree oil on your nails, it is important to prepare the nails so that the oil can effectively treat the nail fungus. If the nails are not prepared properly, the oil will not get absorbed into the nail bed for its intended effect.
Things You Will Need
- Nail clipper
- Fine, medium and coarse nail files
- Cotton swabs
- Trim all the edge area of the nail that is heavily affected by the fungus. It is important to remove as much of the infected nail as possible so that the infection does not spread to the healthy parts of the nail.
- Since it is not easy to cut areas of the nail infected by the fungus sometimes, if there are any areas left, file them down. Use a nail file for this and remove the remaining areas by filing them away. This is done so that as much of the nail infection is removed before treating it with the tea tree oil.
- After cutting and filing away most of the infected areas of the nail, you need to wash away any of the infection debris that may be left behind. Even if it is not visible to the naked eye, it is still important to not skip this step. To do this, wash the nails with water and a shower gel that is skin friendly and pH balanced.
- One of the main reasons why nail fungus occurs is excess moisture in the nail bed. Thus, by not drying your nails after washing them, you are creating a warm and damp environment for the fungus to thrive in. Make sure that you carefully dry your nails by patting and pressing them against a dry towel. Do not agitate or irritate them by rubbing them vigorously against the towel. Keep scrubbing action to a minimum.
How to Apply Tea Tree Oil on Your Nails?
Tea tree oil is an extremely active and potent ingredient. Remember to dilute the tea tree oil in a suitable carrier oil such as coconut oil, argan oil, almond oil or jojoba oil in the ratio of 5-10% tea tree oil in the rest of carrier oil.
After preparing the nails, it is time to apply the oil treatment.
- Apply a few drops of the diluted tea tree oil onto a cotton swab. Using a cotton swab or a cotton bud will make sure that the fungus infecting your nails does not spread from your hand to your foot or vice versa.
- Ensure that you are spot treating all the areas of the nails affected by the fungus and the skin surrounding the nail as well. Let the oil get absorbed into the nails completely. Do not use socks or shoes right after applying the oil to your toenails as it can rub off the oil.
- Re-apply the oil at least twice or thrice a day. Consistent use will lead to consistent results. It is advised to continue this treatment for a few more days after the fungal infection is treated to prevent any relapses.
- If you feel you’re allergic to tea tree oil, discontinue the usage
Check here to know more about the remedies of curing fungal infections of the skin.
- Visible results make take some time, often some months. Be patient.
- Make sure that you clip and file your nails regularly to prevent reinfection.
- Use warm water and soap on your nails at least once a day. Dry your nails after to prevent any moisture from seeping into the nail bed.
- Avoid going barefoot in public facilities such as a public washroom, locker rooms and pools.
- Choose breathable footwear as sweaty shoes are a breeding ground for fungi. Wear sandals whenever possible. If you have to wear socks, use those that help absorb moisture from the skin.
- Use antifungal sprays or powders inside your shoes and socks before putting them on. This will help absorb the excess moisture from the feet.
- Put on a clean pair of socks every day. If you feel like your feet are getting sweaty, take off your footwear for a few minutes. This prevents the risk of a fungal infection.
- Clean and sterilize your nail tools such as nail clippers, files etc. Never share them with anyone as this can transfer infection from one person to the other.
- If you use fake nails on a regular basis, make sure that they are clean and hygienic. Change them regularly. Fake nails can also become a breeding ground for fungi leading to a painful fungal infection.
- Check your toenails and fingers regularly for any discolouration, pain or discomfort. If you find anything out of the ordinary, treat it immediately. This will prevent the fungal infection from spreading.
If the tea tree oil treatment does not show any improvement and your nails become inflamed and painful, or the skin surrounding the nail appears to be infected, visit a doctor at the earliest.
If you develop an allergic reaction to the tea tree oil, discontinue use immediately and consult your doctor at the earliest.
How long it will take to recover
Using the oil consistently will give you visible results. Depending on how severe your infection was, to begin with, it may take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months for your nails to heal completely.
After a few months, you will grow a new nail that is free from any fungal growth. However, it is advised to continue the tea tree oil treatment to ensure that the fungus does not return.
What Are the Effects of Tea Tree Oil On Nail Fungus
Visible results are obtained only when tea tree oil is used consistently for a couple of months at least. Topical application of natural diluted tea tree oil for 6 months, twice a day can cure the fungal infection and stop a recurrence, leaving your nails healthy and clean.
Apart from treating nail infections, tea tree oil is helpful for a variety of other skin and hair benefits. If tea tree oil is your favourite too, you must know about these several benefits and popular recipes that use tea tree oil.