Nail fungus or toe nail fungus (Onychomycosis) is a fungal infection affecting nails. It starts out as a discoloration of the nails. At a later stage, the nails start to get thick and finally become brittle. This is a common disease and affects more than 20% of the people above the age of 60. The disease is common in men, although it affects a significant number of women.
After the infection starts, it causes discoloration of the nails. The nails usually become yellow in color. The disease may spread to other nails as well. The fungal infection may affect fingernails also, but it is more common in toenails. This is because toenails are often exposed to moisture and confined to darkness. The limited amount of blood supply and slower growth of toenails also contribute.
Diagnosis plays the most important role in the treatment of the symptoms. It is difficult to confirm the disease with clinical examination alone. Detailed lab examination of nail sample is necessary. There other diseases which look like nail fungus like psoriasis, chronic nail trauma, etc. Failure to diagnose and confirm the disease will lead to failure of treatment. Different microbes can cause the disease, with dermatophytes being common.
Why tea tree oil works?
Tea tree oil works because it contains “terpinen-4-ol”. This component in the oil provides the plant its anti-fungal properties. The complete treatment of nail fungus takes time depending on the stage of infection. It may take up to a year to remove the disease.
Tea tree oil for nail fungus
Apply tea tree oil on the nail. You may apply undiluted tea tree oil on the nail. But care should be taken to avoid from spreading the oil to skin. The skin under the nails is delicate and may not handle the volatile oil. The recommended option is to dilute the oil with coconut oil and apply it on both nail and the skin. Apply two drops of coconut oil with a drop of tea tree oil.
As mentioned earlier, it will take months to see the fungus off. The nails lack blood vessels and they do not permit whole oil to pass through them. Hence, the reach of the medication to the affected parts of the nail are low. Because of this reason, the drug delivery will be poor. This leads to a longer recovery period of up to a year.
Recovery is indicated by restoration of nail color back to the normal. If the recovery is complete, then there will be the absence of fungi in the nail samples.
Please go ahead with the treatment only after the confirmation of nail fungus. The lab confirmation is necessary. The situation will worsen if you apply the wrong treatment for wrong disease.
As always, make sure that you are not allergic to the oil before starting to use it. Use diluted oil to test the allergy. Keep the oil out of reach of children. Keep it away from pets as well.
Although tea tree oil works for most cases, it may not be effective for all cases of nail fungus. This is because of the different types of fungi that causes infection. Yet, tree tea oil for nail fungus can be an effective treatment, when done properly with care.
Reference: American Family Physician