Though more commonly found on toenails, fungus can also affect your hands. Unsightly as it might be, you must treat it immediately to maintain good health. If your nails look yellow, green or brown, have a look at these simple home remedies and get the problem sorted out.
The Main Characteristics of Nail Fungus
Technically known by the unwieldy term onychomycosis, nail fungus commonly afflicts men’s toenails. It can also affect the hands, mostly in women.
Fungus spreads quickly from one nail to another, but always affects the same type of limb. What this means is that it can start on the toes of the same foot or hand, then spread from one foot to the other or one hand to the other. It’s rare for toenail fungus to spread to your hands.
In general, fungus is caused by environmental factors such as damp and high temperatures. It can also be due to wearing closed shoes throughout the day or by spending a lot of time in swimming pools. Nail fungus may also affect people who are in regular contact with water, whether through doing the washing up or housecleaning. Adults over 60 who suffer from diabetes or weakened immunity or who have circulatory problems are prime targets for nail fungus.
You’ll recognise when fungus begins to affect the nail. It will start to thicken and yellow. It may even take on a grey, green, brown or black tone. As the infection progresses, it may invade more areas of the nail, causing it to peel and even fall off. The skin underneath the infected nail will be red, swollen and itchy.
Fingernails invaded by fungus become yellow or brown, cracked, brittle and weak. The nails aren’t strong enough to grow and are likely to fall off. As with toenail fungus, the skin of an infected fingernail will be swollen and irritated.
How to Avoid the Spread of Nail Fungus
Top tips for warding off toenail fungus:
- Choose shoes that fit well but are not too tight. Fungus thrives in a moist, dark and poorly ventilated climate because those are the conditions under which it can easily multiply. Try to avoid spending too much time wearing wet or damp socks. Synthetic materials such as petrochemical plastics don’t allow your skin to breathe. Choose shoes made from natural materials (canvas, hemp, mircofibre) that have open areas – around the toes, for instance – that let air circulate round your feet.
- If you must walk barefoot in public areas such as gym bathrooms, changing rooms or public showers and pools, wash and dry your feet very well before putting on your shoes.
- Don’t borrow other people’s nail clippers! Always use your own and don’t share them with anyone else. If you have fungus on one of your toenails, you’ll spread it to other toes if you use the same tool to trim the rest of your toenails. Be sure to cut your nails in a straight line on a regular basis.
- Invest in socks that are 100% cotton. They’ll absorb the sweat on your feet. If your socks get soaked in the rain, change them as soon as possible and sprinkle foot powder on them.
If you have fingernail fungus:
- Use rubber gloves to do the washing up or any intensive cleaning. In fact, it’s a good idea to wear them whenever you come into contact with water.
- Again, don’t borrow someone else’s nail file or clippers. Always use your own, but avoid using the same one for the infected nail that you use to trim the healthy ones.
- Don’t share towels or washcloths with others or you risk passing on the fungus.
- Sorry to sound like your mum, but don’t bite your fingernails!
Home Remedies for Fingernail Fungus
- Mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a teaspoon of olive oil and apply it directly to the nail every other day for 20 days.
- Soak your nail in lemon juice or even put a lemon slice directly on the nail.
- Pour a cup of apple cider vinegar in a bowl with water. Soak your hand for 20 minutes and then dry it well. To be thorough, you can use a hair dryer at medium heat to ensure that all the moisture is completely removed from underneath the nail.
- Put a few drops of oregano essential oil in a teaspoon of olive oil and apply it every day for three weeks to the affected nail.
- Finely mince a clove of garlic into transparent nail varnish, 3 drops of white iodine and 7 drops of lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for a week and then apply a layer of it to the affected nail for a fortnight. Remove it with nail polish remover and a cotton pad.
- Put seven drops of lemon juice in half a glass of castor oil. Place the mixture in a bowl and put your hand in it. Do this daily for six weeks. Make sure to wash and dry your hand well.
- Put five garlic cloves in a cup of water and bring to the boil. Pour the liquid into a large bowl. Whilst the water’s still warm, submerge your hands. Let them rest there for at least 15 minutes and then dry them thoroughly. Repeat daily for four weeks.
- Blend water with baking soda until it forms a paste. Apply to the affected nail – underneath, if possible – with a cotton pad so that it is in contact with your skin. Leave it for several minutes, then rinse and dry well.
- Boil 3 tablespoons of thyme with two cups of water for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let cool. Soak a cotton bud or pad in the mixture and put it on your nails.