Toenail fungus affects up to 8% of adults. The initial symptoms include yellowing and thickening of the nail. When the condition develops to inflammation, it causes swelling of the toe and nail crumbling. Toenail fungus thrives in a humid and dark environment, therefore, people who constantly wear socks and closed shoes are more prone to this problem.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThis condition is perfectly curable. However, the treatment takes a long time. In order to effectively get rid of nail fungus, you need to continue the treatment throughout the whole nail regrowth cycle, which usually takes from 6 to 12 months.\r\n\r\nIt is vital that you do not stop the treatment even after the symptoms have decreased or disappeared. Leaving the smallest part of the toenail infected with the fungus will put the whole treatment in jeopardy.\r\nHow to avoid toenail fungus\r\nFungus thrives in a humid and warm environment. I may develop as a result of the changes in the pH level of the skin, which often happens when you wear sweaty socks and shoes or in some other way regularly expose your feet to moist.\r\nKeep Your Feet Dry\r\nIf you want to avoid toenail fungus, you should wear fresh, clean socks made of an absorbent material that will let your feet breathe. A good choice will be cotton, wool or polypropylene socks. Remember to dry your feet thoroughly after the shower and if your feet tend to sweat a lot, use a special talk that will absorb the humidity. Whenever possible, wear open shoes to let the skin and nails breathe and dry.\r\nDisinfect Pedicure Accessories\r\nAvoid using the same pedicure accessories as a person with fungal infections. For example, don't share the clippers with your partner and when you go to a beauty salon for a pedicure treatment, make sure the staff use only accessories that have been previously disinfected. Also, if the symptoms of your toenail fungus have decreased and are not obvious anymore to the person providing the pedicure treatment, let them know about your condition so that they can take proper care both of your nails and of the equipment they use.\r\nWear Flip-Flops at the Swimming Pool\r\nWhenever you are at the swimming pool or at the gym, make sure you never walk barefoot and keep your flip-flops on while in the shower. The floor in damp, public areas is full of fungus and you put yourself at risk of getting infected whenever you decide to take your shoes or flip-flops off.\r\nNail Polish\r\nConstant use of nail polish may also boost the development of toenail fungus because nail polish traps moisture in the nail, creating a perfect environment for it to grow. Give a break to your nails from time to time so they can breathe and regenerate properly.\r\nGet New Shoes\r\nOnce you notice fungus symptoms on your toenails and begin the treatment, you should disinfect all of your shoes or \u2013 preferably \u2013 replace them all. Every pair of shoes may contain some remains of fungus and will make the condition reoccur.\r\nHome remedies for toenail fungus\r\nIf you want to clear out nail fungus, you need to brace yourself in patience and be consistent with the treatment you choose. It is very important to follow the appropriate foot hygiene routine and apply all of the prevention advice during and after the treatment. Make sure you use rubber gloves every time you apply creams, ointments or solutions on the infected nails.\r\n\r\nRemember that having cured nail fungus does not mean you have solved the problem once for all. It can become a recurrent problem if you neglect this advice. The good news is that toenail fungus treatment can be done entirely through home remedies, with the use of widely available products.\r\nTea Tree Oil\r\n\r\nDue to its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil is a popular ingredient in many products designed to cure various skin and nail conditions. You can prepare a mixture of tea tree oil and olive oil using equal amounts of both. Apply it on your toenail twice daily and leave it on for 10 minutes. After the morning treatment, before you put your socks and shoes on, scrub the nail with a small brush. Gradually, the infected layer of your nail will be removed and replaced with a new, healthy one. For better results, add a few drops of orange oil to the solution you apply on your nails. Thanks to its slightly acidic character it boosts the antibacterial properties of the solution. Remember not to use orange oil on its own, though, because it can change the pH level of the skin and create better conditions for fungus to develop.\r\nApple Cider Vinegar\r\n\r\nYou can get amazing results in the toenail fungus treatment by soaking your feet every day in a solution of water and apple cider vinegar. Again, use equal parts of both liquids and soak your entire feet or just the affected nail for 30 minutes. Make sure you dry your feet well after the treatment. You may also prepare a scrub of apple cider vinegar and ground rice flour. Use it to exfoliate the infected area 3-4 times a week. Apple cider vinegar has strong anti-bacterial and antifungal properties and is a great help in fighting and preventing the spreading of nail fungus.\r\n\r\nPeople with very sensitive skin may have to reduce the amount of vinegar they use for the solution as its high concentration can irritate the skin during a 30-minute session. If you notice that the skin gets red or peels in areas that are not affected by fungus, use half of the suggested amount of vinegar. You can also do the vinegar treatment 2-3 times a week rather than daily and apply other products or solutions on the remaining days.\r\nBaking Soda\r\n\r\nBaking soda is known for its antibacterial properties and has been used for years as a home remedy for acne and other skin infections. When used for toenail fungus treatment, it does not only kill the bacteria but also stops the development of fungus and neutralizes foot odour. The best way to incorporate baking soda into the toenail fungus treatment is to prepare a solution of 1,5 l of water with 5 tablespoons of baking soda, 4 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and 5 tablespoons of Epsom salt and the same amount of vinegar. Soak your feet in this solution for 10 minutes and dry them well. If you repeat this process once or twice a day, after just 4 weeks you should notice a significant decrease of toenail fungus symptoms. The solution prevents fungus from spreading and gently dissolves the infected toenail. For better effects, exfoliate the damaged nail every two to three days.\r\nSnakeroot Leaf Extract\r\n\r\nWhile it might not be a very commonly used product, snakeroot leaf extract is really worth trying. Some health food stores will stock it, or else you can buy it online. The results are worth the hassle since snakeroot leaf extract has been proven to be almost as effective as topical ointments. It gives quick results and if you apply it on the affected nail three times a week for a month, you will already notice the decrease in the fungus symptoms. Over the following two months, you need to gradually reduce the amount of the product you use but make sure you continue the treatment for full three months in order to achieve permanent results.\r\nOil of Oregano\r\n\r\nOil of oregano finds use in a wide range of cosmetic products and medicines due to its antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Regular use of a mixture of olive oil and oil of oregano stops the growth of fungus, reduces the inflammation and enhances the regeneration of nail plate. Apply it twice a day on the affected toenail for three weeks and you will see spectacular effects.\r\nMouthwash\r\n\r\nOne of very popular hygiene products that have is used in antifungal treatment is mouthwash. It's designed to kill bacteria and germs and works great as a toenail fungus treatment product. For extra antiseptic effect choose a mouthwash that contains alcohol. You can prepare a strong solution of equal parts of mouthwash and vinegar and apply it to the affected area twice daily or mix half a cup of mouthwash and half a cup of vinegar with two liters of water and soak your entire feet in the solution for 30 minutes. The latter option will give you the extra benefit of softening the skin on your feet. Those who don't exfoliate feet regularly and have many layers of dead skin cells may notice that chunks of skin will come off after just one treatment. It is normal and only shows that you need to improve your foot beauty regime in the future.\r\nCoconut Oil\r\nDue to the high level of fatty acids, coconut oil helps fight fungus since it changes the structure of the fungal membrane. When you apply coconut oil on the toenail affected by fungus, it will gradually cause the fungus cells to disintegrate. This treatment might be a bit more time-consuming and you will have to wait longer for the results, but is ideal for those people whose feet are very sensitive and might react with redness or irritation to some harsh products like vinegar or mouthwash.\r\nWhen should I seek medical help\r\nIf toenail fungus doesn't get stopped and treated properly at an early stage, it may infect other nails, cause their deformation, permanent damage or even loss. People with an impaired immune system or diabetes risk developing skin tissue infection if they don't react promptly to the problem of nail fungus.\r\n\r\nIf you see that fungus has affected your nails to such an extent that they start cracking, splitting or getting deformed, then it's time to see the doctor who will let you know which of medical treatments suits best your nail condition.\r\nOral Medications\r\nNail fungus develops in the deeper layers of the nail so the most effective way to stop it is to act both from the outside, through various treatment we described above and from the inside, by using prescribed an antifungal medication. It speeds up the healing process but takes no less than 12 weeks for the fungus to disappear. Faster results may come at a cost since the side effects of prolonged anti-fungal medication use include diarrhoea, rash and abnormalities in the levels of liver enzymes. No matter how much you want fast results, avoid this type of medication if you have an impaired immune system or suffer from a liver disease.\r\nSurgery\r\nSome severe cases of toenail fungus may leave you no other option but to have a surgery that will partially or completely remove the nail. The surgery is not the most pleasant one, but it's not painful either. It is the recovery time that poses a problem since you might feel pain while walking for up to a few weeks after the procedure. However, the removal of the infected cells and daily application of anti-fungal cream after the surgery guarantee permanent results.\r\nLaser treatments\r\nAn alternative to the surgery is a laser treatment in which a beam of laser is used to damage the fungus in the infected nail. It's effective, but in some more severe cases, a series of sessions is required to achieve desired results. Obviously, every extra session means extra costs. That is why laser treatment is a good choice only in the initial stages of fungal infection.\r\nMedical Nail Debridement\r\nIf neither of the medical treatments described above is an option you could accept, then try medical debridement which is a type of a strong, chemical peeling performed on your nails by the doctor. The doctor applies a special ointment on the affected nail and secures it with a dressing that you need to wear for seven days. After that time, the doctor trims the nail and removes the softened, dead nail tissue.