When fungi or bacteria enter the fingernail bed through a crack in the nail or cuticle, the result can be the development of fingernail fungus. Fingernail fungus is treatable but, in the meantime, can be unsightly, uncomfortable and embarrassing. Although there are prescription treatments for fingernail fungus, you can use more affordable treatment options at home to cure it.
Symptoms of Fingernail Fungus
Infected fingernails will slowly become thicker and more brittle. The brittleness can cause them to become raggedy or more prone to splitting and breakage. As the fungal infection continues to progress, your fingernails can become misshapen and darker in color. Eventually, a condition known as onycholysis can develop, causing the fingernails to separate from the nail bed. In addition to being painful, onycholysis can result in an unpleasant odor around your fingernails.
Natural Antibacterial Treatment
White vinegar is a natural antibacterial that you can use to cure fingernail fungus at home. Soak the affected fingernails daily with a mixture made from one part white vinegar and two parts water for 15 minutes each day to help destroy bacteria. White vinegar is safe to use, but if it irritates your skin, you can reduce treatments to three times each week. Vinegar soak treatments work slowly and can take six to eight weeks to help you get rid of the fungus.
Natural Antifungal Treatment
Tea tree oil, which comes from the melaleuca tree, possesses natural antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. It's sometimes used to treat other disorders, such as ringworm, and can be used to help you get rid of fingernail fungus as well. Swab undiluted tea tree oil over and around the infected fingernails to kill fungus and bacteria. This treatment can be used three times each day for six to eight weeks, or until the nail fungus is gone.
Preventing the Return of Fingernail Fungus
Once you've treated and gotten rid of fingernail fungus, you can take certain steps to prevent its return. File your fingernails short and keep them clean at all times so that bacteria can't collect beneath or around your nails. Wear rubber gloves when your hands will be in water for prolonged periods of time. If you must get manicures, be sure to see a reputable manicurist to avoid getting nail fungus there. When in doubt, you can bring your own sterilized manicure implements instead of relying on the manicurist to sterilize her own.