Who’d have thought toenail fungus would be a trending search topic?! It’s probably because it’s estimated that one out of every ten people has it. And 1 out of every 2 people over the age of seventy deals with it!
There are prescription treatments proven to be effective at treating fungus. But not everyone can afford the cost of long-term prescription medication. Even those who can afford it often question spending the money or risking the side effects of prescription medication on a condition that can seem more cosmetic than life-threatening.
So it’s no wonder people are turning to the Internet to find alternative home remedies – coconut oil for toenail fungus is one of the many.
In this article, we are going to take a closer look at nail fungus, why coconut oil has become a home remedy treatment, and most importantly if it actually works.
What is Nail Fungus?
Toenail fungus can be caused by different types of yeasts and molds, which are both types of fungi, and dermatophytes, which are fungi that require keratin (what our nails are made of) for growth. Small cracks or cuts in the nail or surrounding tissue can allow the fungi to enter the nail and cause an infection.
Bacteria and fungi are normally present in and on our bodies. This is normal and healthy. However, Fungi thrive in warm moist environments, so if presented with the perfect storm of conditions, say between your sweaty toes that are insulated with socks and shoes, this can cause the naturally present fungi to overpopulate, which can develop into an infection.
Toenail fungus occurs when this overabundance of fungi gets into a crack on the toenail or takes up residence between the nail plate and nail bed.
Toenail fungus starts off as a small white or yellowish spot at the edge of the nail. As the fungal infection spreads and entrenches itself deeper into the nail, it starts to separate the keratin in the nail plate, resulting in the nail discoloring, becoming opaque, thickening, having a powdery texture underneath, and eventually crumbling at the edges.
You can try to cover it with polish, but that just hides the problem. It’s best to fix it!
Is Coconut Oil Antibacterial and Antifungal?
Coconut does indeed possess antibacterial and antifungal properties. However this is the wrong question to be asking if you are trying to get rid of toenail fungus.
Coconut oil for Toenail Fungus
The question you need to be asking is – Can coconut oil get rid of toenail fungus? The short answer is no, and here’s why:
There are about a half a dozen things you probably have in your pantry and bathroom cabinet that have antibacterial properties. These include vinegar, Vicks Vaporub, oregano oil, tea tree oil and hydrogen peroxide.
All of these home remedies, like coconut oil, contain antifungal properties and all of which are reasonably effective at getting rid of a regular topical skin fungal infection.
But toenail fungus is a lot harder to treat than a regular skin fungal infection.
The hard truth is that unless you’ve caught toenail fungus in its very early stages, most home remedies, including coconut oil, are very unlikely to get rid of toenail fungus, especially if it’s been left untreated for a long time.
Even if you start treating nail fungus when you first notice it, home remedies still may not work for you.
Home remedies for toenail fungus are a bit hit-and-miss. There are a lot of people out there swearing that a home remedy worked for them, while others have been unsuccessful with the same treatment.
If there was a non-prescription medication out there that really worked for everyone, toenail fungus would not be one of the most popularly searched terms on the Internet.
Also, coconut oil is an emollient, which means it locks in moisture wherever it’s applied.
This can create a breeding ground for bacteria.
Remember when we were talking about warm moist environments? Well, you’re providing the warmth and the coconut oil is providing the moisture.
Coconut oil is amazing and it truly does have 101 practical uses apart from just cooking and massage, but curing toenail fungus is unfortunately unlikely.
How long does coconut oil take to cure toenail fungus?
As we said, it is unlikely that coconut oil will cure toenail fungus. But if you happen to catch it early enough, and the coconut oil works on it, well you’ll just have to wait for the new toenail to grow out. It can take months for the fungus to fully heal, because the fungus doesn’t just go away.
You need to wait for fresh, clean toenail to grow in, and trim off the bad stuff as your nail grows out.
What can I use to treat toenail fungus?
Apart from medication available by prescription only, there is nothing that has been clinically tested or proven to work to get rid of toenail fungus. But if going to the dermatologist or podiatrist to get a prescription is not an option for you, there are 2 ways you can go:
Now although we’ve just finished saying that home remedies are unproven and may not work for you, there are some home remedies that have a lot of anecdotal success stories to back them up. And really there is no harm in trying to see if something that has apparently worked for some people, may also work for you.
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Vicks VapoRub contains camphor (4.8%), thymol (1.2%), and menthol (2.6%). These same ingredients that have made it a medicine cabinet staple ever since it was invented more than a century ago for easing chest congestion, also all have antifungal properties.
Of all the home remedies out there, this is the only one that actually has had a clinical study performed that showed that it did indeed show positive results against toenail fungus in some people.
It’s important to note that the study included only 18 people and of those 18, with daily use after 48 weeks, completely cured only 5. This is a success rate of just over 30%.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar is acidic, which gives it antifungal and antibacterial properties. It slows down the growth of some types of fungus and may even get rid of it entirely. Like most antifungal home remedies, is very effective against topical skin fungus, but because toenail fungus is much harder to treat, vinegar may or may not work for you.
Although apple cider vinegar is the vinegar most often touted as the go-to vinegar, white vinegar has the same effect.
Hydrogen Peroxide 3%
According to The CDC, hydrogen peroxide kills yeasts, bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and fungi. If you choose to give Hydrogen Peroxide a try, make sure you use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution.
Anything stronger than 3% can cause irritation or potentially cause damage to the surrounding skin tissue.
Like the home remedies above, OTC antifungals are very effective at treating topical skin fungal infections, but also like home remedies, there are no OTC antifungals that have been proven to work on toenail fungus specifically.
Though there are quite a few that market themselves specifically for nail fungus, if you read the label or package insert, it will say “not for nails”.
That having been said, one of the following may just work for you if you’ve managed to catch your toenail fungus early. The following OTC antifungals that market themselves for nail fungus below are our picks for your best bets, based on Amazon consumer product ratings: