Besides leaky gut and the host of autoimmune issues that go along with it, antibiotic overuse is also a major cause of nail and toenail fungus. The unbalancing of the gut that occurs allows pathogenic fungal strains like Candida to become dominant over beneficial, friendly microbes, get into the blood and infect other tissues. The fingers and toes are a common location for a fungal infection to take hold. Incidentally, one of the least talked about side effects of birth control pills is a damaged gut environment – just like antibiotics!
How does this happen? Once Candida takes hold from overuse of pharmaceuticals, its roots, called rhizoids, gradually penetrate and compromise the gut wall. This allows it to enter the bloodstream and travel freely around the body. This domino effect is described in detail in Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s bestselling book on reclaiming gut health and reversing autoimmune disorders.
Once Candida spills into the blood, fungal overgrowth can easily take hold elsewhere in the body. Nails and toenails are prime locations for these secondary fungal infections that originated in the gut.
Another possible cause for nail fungus comes from gardening or otherwise digging in the dirt without gloves. This happened to me when I was in middle school. I loved gardening and maintained quite an impressive patch of sunflowers that grew most of the year.
My unsophisticated cultivation efforts were entirely supported with my bare hands digging, planting, and weeding these beauties. Unfortunately, the constant dirt under my fingernails eventually led to fungal overgrowth in both my thumbs. I worked hard to keep my nails clean, but infection took hold nonetheless. Since I never took antibiotics as a child, these infections were primary rather than secondary in nature.
The Hot Water Remedy for Nail Fungus
My father, who is a [retired] Family Physician, suggested I immerse both my thumbs in cups of water as hot as I could stand for as long as I could stand as a remedy to cure the nail fungus infection. I dutifully followed his advice day after day for several weeks until I could see healthy new nails starting to grow. Within a few weeks, healthy thumbnails completely grew in.
Fortunately, I never had a problem with nail fungus again. I also learned to wear gloves when gardening!
My personal experience dealing with nail fungus is that it can indeed be resolved without drugs. While you can definitely go the hot water approach to resolving nail fungus, resolving toenail fungus presents a trickier challenge. Toenails are not as easily immersed in a cup of hot water like fingers are! What to do in that case?
Toenail Fungus Natural Cure
Toenails grow quite a bit more slowly than fingernails. By some estimates, they grow half as quickly. The good news is that the nails on the big toes, where toenail fungus issues are frequently present, grow faster than other toenails. Still, the growth is slow at best. Depending on age and nutritional status, it can take anywhere from 6 – 18 months for new nails on the big toes to grow in.
Hence, any natural cures for toenail fungus require an immense amount of persistence and patience!
That said, the best and most inexpensive natural remedy for toenail fungus is Vaseline petroleum jelly. This inexpensive ointment very effectively cuts off the supply of oxygen to suffocate the fungus within a matter of weeks. While not a green solution as it is made from the hydrocarbons derived from oil, petroleum jelly is at least nontoxic when applied to the skin.
The Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database ranks Vaseline petroleum jelly as a low risk to health. If this does not reassure you enough, feel free to give natural and organic alternatives to petroleum jelly a try first. They may or may not be as effective at sealing up the nail from exposure to oxygen.
To use, simply slather up the toenail in petroleum jelly. Take care to seal in the corners of the nail. Thickness of the jelly is not as important as complete coverage.
Petroleum jelly is waterproof, so it won’t easily wash off unless you use soap. Re-apply as needed and wear socks at night to ensure you don’t grease up your bed sheets.
Your persistence will pay off within a few weeks or months as healthy nail growth starts to peek through the nail bed.
For more easy natural remedies ideas like these, check out my book Traditional Remedies for Modern Families. It is available in both print and ebook.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Do you need to apply the petroleum jelly under the nail also? My L&R great toes have been infected many years and the toe nail is partially lifted away from the bed. I have managed to keep the infection isolated to just these toes through diligent nail tool disinfecting, and using separate tools for the infected nails. The infection started with a foot injury to my R foot and only spread to my L foot a few years ago when I slipped up and used the R infected toe clipper on my L G toe.
I have used tea tree oil and numerous other remedies to no avail. Tea tree mixed with coconut oil ( cold pressed only) works wonders for dry cracked feet and foot odor also btw.
What about Vicks Vapo Rub? Would that work for toenail fungus?
A friend used Vaselene on her toe fungus. She did notice the with the use of Vaseline her night toe nail turned blackish. Is that normal? Her friand said that means the fungus is dying.
Sarah Pope MGA
Once the fungus is gone, you do have to wait until healthy nail grows out which can be several months.
thank you for the great article!
how many times a day should one do the hot water treatment?
thanks so much!!
Sarah Pope MGA
I did it as often as I could … at least once and two or three times if you have time.
Do you use the jelly until only a healthy nail is left?
Sarah Pope MGA
Use the jelly until healthy nail is emerging from the nail bed and is healthy new grown is firmly established. THis can take anywhere from a month to two or three months depending on your age and level of overall health.
Is Unpetroleum Jelly just as effective? It has the same consistency as Petroleum Jelly.
It would probably work just fine. The goal is to seal off the nail from getting any oxygen exposure.
The home remedy you should all try is vinegar + Sodium bicarbonate.
But you have to be consistent – to let a “new” nail grow. So we talk about 4+ months.
I’m yet still to try the petroleum jelly on the toenail fungus but im not unsure how many times a day/week to reapply it and if its alright to have a hot bubble bath with it on still
Yes you can have a bath, but reapply as soon as you’re out of the tub and dried off.
Thanks for the greatest article! Due to lack of consistency and patience i don’t see results when using home remedies and I notice you did’t mention over the counter solutions for toenail fungus. i would love an opinion from an expert if this will be a right solution for a lazy person like me. I need something that i will only apply once per day.
I was successful in clearing up a fungal infection on one of my fingers and my big toes using 91% isopropyl alcohol and garlic (in pill form). I had tried many essential oils and they did not work well for me, then I read the benefits of garlic as an anti-fungal and decided to give it a try. I used a metal file to lightly file down the infected area (make sure to sterilize after each use as the fungus will spread easily) and then using a q-tip I made sure to get the alcohol on all of the infected areas. Let it air dry. I also took 3 garlic supplements each day. It took about 6 months for the fungus to clear up completely, so patience is key. It worked wonders for me!! Good luck. 🙂