Fungal nail infections can be persistent and it's often an embarrassing problem, especially in summer when you want to wear open toed shoes, sandals and flip flops. A fungal nail infection can usually be identified by a change in colour and thickness of the nail. This needs treatment otherwise it can worsen and result in the spread of the infection to nearby nails and occasionally, loss of the nail. It can occur in fingernails but is much more common in toenails because of the moist, dark environment inside our shoes - this is the perfect condition for fungus to grow in.
Fortunately, there is a safe, natural and inexpensive treatment. Tea tree is known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties and it is very effective in treating such infections, which is why it's one of the main ingredients in most anti-fungal nail treatments. It makes sense to use the product in pure form, because that's how it is most effective. By using pure tea tree oil you can also save yourself spending money on expensive products that are simply tea tree diluted with other useless chemicals. Lemon oil is another antiseptic essential oil with anti-fungal properties. It's usually a secondary ingredient in fungal nail treatments because it can help to reduce any discomfort or pain you may experience, as well as treating the infection itself and preventing spread to other nails.
- You can simply mix the two oils together in a bottle in equal amounts.
- For more sensitive skin, you may want to dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or almond (using equal amounts of the 3 oils).
Apply topically (one or two drops onto the affected toe or finger nail), and leave on for 5-10 minutes before washing off. Do not use essential oils neat for anything else - they should never be put directly on the skin, but nails are more hard-wearing. Do this daily for around 4 weeks to see results. This treatment may take longer than 4 weeks, depending on the severity of the infection. It is also advisable to trim the affected nail regularly with clean nail clippers to promote healthy nail growth. Be sure to use a different nail clipper to the one you use for healthy nails to prevent spread, and clean it after every use.
If you do not see any improvement or you suffer a reaction, wash off, discontinue use immediately and contact your GP. Do not use essential oils neat for anything else. Always contact your doctor before beginning any form of treatment, especially if taking other medication. Do not use this treatment if pregnant and never consume essential oils.