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Nail fungus (onychomycosis)…self-treatment principles:

"Toenail fungus” is a common condition...an sometimes associated with fungal "athletes' foot" and usually difficult to cure. You know that you might have nail fungus  if you have one or more thick toenails (a "dystrophic nail...scientifically representing the category, "onychodystrophy").

But there are many reasons/causes for thick ("pachyonychia", "onychogryphosis", or "onychauxis") toenails, and poor circulation is a very important one (an extremity with poor circulation may indicate poor heart & brain circulation). All nails on an extremity are usually thickened in the face of poor circulation (but all cases of such thickening are not cases of poor circulation...it is simple a clue to be considered). If a toenail other than the big toe toenail is clearly thickened, check very carefully to see if your physical activities or fit of your shoe could be causing that particular toe nail to be repeated banged into the interior front aspect of your shoe (if so, this may be traumatic thickening). Therefore, I advise that you get a diagnosis by a qualified doctor who can be sure it is fungus and not something worse. Dermatologists and podiatrists are the experts. Near the bottom of [this page] is a listing of scientific terms for some types of nail abnormalities, one of which is onychomycosis.

COST: Treatment by prescription medicine will include the expenses of doctor’s fees to diagnose & then manage the treatment, pathology lab & pathologist fees if they are needed to make the diagnosis with the microscope, lab test costs to check your liver condition prior to taking the medicine, and lab costs to periodically check & be sure the medicine is not injuring your liver.

Below is either (1) another way to attempt treatment after getting a doctor’s diagnosis, or (2) a set of additional efforts you can make to add to what the medicine does to rid you of the fungus. [for more, (a) see Health Central's page about abnormal nails & (b) drop any of the above three medical terms into Google images search (search term = nail fungus) and see many photos of what it looks like]

Here is the key fungus prevention rule...the fungus needs MOISTURE and an alkaline (non acid) environment:

  • make some stock "fungus killer solution" of either Lysol concentrate (the "concentrate" is the only ordinary consumer-type Lysol product that contains the phenol that kills coexisting bacteria and fungus) or hypochlorite-containing Clorox: to each one quart of clean & clear tap water, add an eighth of a teaspoon or less of either...but not both. If you use Lysol concentrate, the water should not turn any more than faintly "milky" colored.
  • use some of the killer solution to wet any clippers or files after you use them = this kills fungus stuck to them.
  • debulk the thickened-nail growth by trimming toenails (this action discards huge amounts of fungus); some even have podiatrists pull the bad nails out. Put clippings into killer solution & do not let clippings drop or fly  into carpet or on floor where they might stick around & re-infect.
  • debulk debris underneath nails & kill the removed debris with killer solution...don't just flick it onto the floor where it may re-infect.
  • Use a nail file, emory board, or sandpaper to file the abnormal nails (let debris fall on newspaper which you carefully wrap & discard so debris won't re-infect) as thin as you can without making them too sensitive or bleed (shortens the distance for the Lysol or Clorox to penetrate to kill the deepest fungi); be sure to soak the file afterward in killer solution.
  • soak foot in warm/comfortable killer solution for 15 minutes 1-3 times per day until nails are well and then occasionally thereafter. 


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  • keep toes & nails dry
      
     
  • keep nails dry by keeping nails cut short & clear/clean underneath.
      
     
  • if you bathe/shower just before dressing to go to work, get toes & the area under nails excellently dry before putting on socks and shoes.
      
     
  • have shoes large enough & loose enough to help air circulation & help the feet & nails to stay dry all day.
      
     
  • keep feet clean: gently clear out under nails…remove dead debris; use Lysol or Clorox to disinfect shower or tub weekly.
      
     
  • keep feet acidic: splash a little bit of a stock mixture of dilute vinegar & water (or dilute lemon juice and water) on toenail areas daily…especially after bath/shower...both acidifies & dries. Fungus hates acid environment & hates "dry"!
      
     
  • kill & remove fungi: 
      
     
  • keep shoes & socks clean & fungus free: you may have to get rid of old shoes or treat the interior insoles (especially if removable) with one of the 3 potential surface (topical) fungus & bacteria killers: (1) extremely carefully use DILUTE Lysol or (2) Clorox; or (3) drug store 3% peroxide. If you can, you can dry these things in bright sunlight which also kills "germs". Another supposedly very effective anti-germ agent on more chronic sores but not nail fungus is honey! If anything on the feet needs bandaging, consider masking tape!

    socks: change socks daily and use killer-solution on any stuck-on fungus contamination by putting them in killer solution.

    shoes: put some killer solution into shoes & quickly slosh all around and dump out about once per week. Then put in freezer overnight. After thawing, dry shoes quickly & thoroughly. If you can afford it, have enough shoes that you never wear a pair more than a week at a time…rotate the shoes to enhance drying. Fungus hates “dry”. Fungus hates acid (dilute vinegar; dilute lemon juice).
      
     
  • keep patient & persistent: toenails grow about 1/32nd of an inch per week; all of the old fungus-infected nail must grow out & be trimmed off as you treat (& this takes time).

  • WARNING: Then skin of the feet needs post-treatment protection. Rinse any Lysol or chlorox treated feet off, be sure a little acid solution is placed on; pat or towel dry AND THEN coat any dry-skin spots with a grease (Vasoline or other greasy stuff) that retards the drying out of the skin (dry skin can develope its own compounding problems).

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(posted about 2006; latest addition 24 June 2012)