It’s monsoon, and we know for a fact that fungus loves moisture! Fungal infections can pop up anywhere. Even your toenails are not spared. In fact, a research published by National Library of Medicine revealed that fungal infections are reported to cause 50 percent of nail conditions in people who have been seen by dermatologists. Also, going by online searches like what kills toenail fungus fast, we can safely say that it is a problem that bothers a lot of people. There are many home remedies for toenail fungus. Soaking feet in vinegar is one, but people often get confused about what to use – white vinegar or apple cider vinegar for toenail fungus!
To help you decide, Health Shots consulted Dr Vaishali Lokhande, Consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.
What is toenail fungus?
Toenail fungus is technically called onychomycosis, and is a common fungal infection that affects the toenails, says Dr Lokhande. Various types of fungi such as dermatophytes, yeasts and molds are behind this infection. It is not pretty as it typically starts at the edge or the base of the nail and gradually spreads, leading to thickening, discolouration, brittleness and sometimes a foul odour.
Causes of toenail fungus
The most obvious cause is poor hygiene. If you are not keeping your feet clean and dry, wearing dirty or sweaty socks, and using unclean footwear, it can all create a comfortable environment for fungal growth. Toenail fungus can be caused by more factors. Let’s check them out!
1. Fungal overgrowth
Fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, such as public swimming pools, gyms and showers. Walking barefoot in these areas can increase the risk of fungal infection, says Dr Lokhande.
2. Damaged nails
Injuries or trauma to the toenails, such as cracks or separation from the nail bed, can allow fungi to enter and cause an infection.
3. Weakened immune system
Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and immunodeficiency disorders, can weaken the immune system and make people more susceptible to fungal infections
Also read: Diabetes and fungal infections: Find out the connection
White vinegar as toenail fungus treatment
White vinegar has been often suggested as a home remedy to help manage toenail fungus due to its acidic properties. They can create an unfavourable environment for fungi.
Here’s how to use it:
• Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water in a tub.
• Soak the affected foot or feet in the solution for 15 to 20 minutes.
• After soaking, dry your feet, including your toenails properly.
The expert suggests to do this once or twice every day for several weeks or until improvement is seen.
Apple cider vinegar for toenail fungus
Apple cider vinegar is another home remedy that people believe in for toenail fungus treatment. Like white vinegar, it is believed to possess antifungal properties.
Here’s how to use it:
• Take apple cider vinegar and dilute it with an equal amount of warm water.
• Soak the affected foot or feet in it for 15 to 20 minutes.
• Thoroughly dry your feet.
Repeat this process once or twice daily for several weeks.
White vinegar or apple cider vinegar to kill toenail fungus
Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar have been suggested as home remedies for toenail fungus, but there is no clear scientific evidence to demonstrate the superiority of one over the other, says the expert. The acidic nature of both vinegars might create an inhospitable environment for fungi. Some people might have personal preferences or anecdotal experiences regarding one vinegar type over the other, but it is important to remember that these remedies might not work for everyone. The expert says that vinegar might aid therapy, but it is not a complete treatment in itself.
Ways to treat toenail fungus
Over-the-counter antifungal creams, ointments, or nail lacquers containing ingredients such as clotrimazole, terbinafine, or ciclopirox are easily available. They can be applied directly to the affected nails. Here are some more ways to treat toenail fungus:
1. Oral antifungal medications
In cases of more severe or widespread toenail fungus, oral antifungal medications might be prescribed. Medications like terbinafine and itraconazole are to be taken for several weeks or months, says the expert. They help to eliminate the infection as new nail growth replaces the infected one.
2. Surgical or procedural interventions
If the toenail fungus is particularly resistant or causes significant nail deformity or discomfort, your doctor might recommend a surgical or procedural intervention. This might involve partial or complete removal of the affected nail, laser treatment or photodynamic therapy. These treatments aim to remove the infected nail and allow for the growth of a healthy nail.
It is best is to take preventive measures even after treatment is over so that you don’t have to face toenail fungus again. That means keep your feet clean and dry, change socks regularly, wear well-ventilated shoes and avoid walking barefoot in public areas.