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the actual tea tree

Tea Tree for Fungus on Nails

Published on Mar 22, 2016 in Bath & Body

Some people are always fashionably late. Western society has been enjoying the many benefits of the Australian tea tree, since the turn of the 20th century. In Australia itself, the indigenous Aboriginal tribes have been using the tea tree – and its oil in particular – for hundreds (or even thousands!) of years.

Australian Tea Tree

Australian Tea Tree

Australian Tea tree oil became popular after talk of its antiseptic capabilities had begun to spread around the globe. People began applying it in many different ways – from use as an all-around house-cleaning product to a clinical/medical remedy.

Some popular uses of tea tree:

  • Add tea tree oil to your shampoo (if it is a mild shampoo) or conditioner, and turn it into a dandruff eliminator / lice preventer. Tea tree oil shampoo is most effective at getting rid of problems pertaining to the scalp and hair. You’ll never want to go back to your old store-bought supermarket brand ever again once you’ve tried tea tree oil conditioner!
  • Add it to a facial mask or moisturizer, and it becomes a very powerful addition to your beauty regimen. Don’t overdo it, though, because tea tree is usually a very concentrated substance.
  • Apply a drop of diluted tea tree oil on top of insect bites, sunburns, sores, and other mild skin conditions. The tea tree has a very positive effect in these kinds of situations, and it can hasten the healing process.
  • Another widely-spread use of tea tree, is in fighting against fungal infections. It has proven to be very useful with fighting fungal-related ailments. Conditions such as candida, jock itch, athlete’s foot, and fungus of the nail (in both fingers and toes) may be relieved – and even prevented – with regular use of tea tree oil.

Where Does Toenail Fungus Come From?

But wait, let’s back up a bit. How do toenail and fingernail fungal infections even start? How do we go from having nicely-shaped and healthy-looking nails on our toes and hands, to sporting discolored, cracked, distorted, nail-shaped fungus factories? The obvious, go-to places to contract fungus of the nail are gymnasiums, locker-rooms, swimming-pools, saunas and steam-rooms, showers and bathrooms, and the like. In short – warm, wet, stuffy environments are hotbeds for fungal infections, and it is certainly possible to get it from any of those places. You don’t have to do anything special, either. Simply walking around with bare feet can already make you a prime candidate for various fungal infections.  This kind of infection can even be brought on by getting your feet soaked, while outside. If you are wearing wet socks, or are sweating in your shoes, it could also be a very welcoming ground for fungal infections. Remember – there are times when our skin is a very sensitive and susceptible organ. When fungus decides to move in, it can spread very quickly if left unchecked and untreated.

There are several kinds of common fungal infections. Some are caused by yeast, some develop thanks to mold, and others are due to an actual fungus (called dermatophyte) inhabiting the nail. For that reason, people who have cuts under their nails are at a higher risk of developing fungus in those areas. When it comes to contracting nail fungus, the toenails are much easier to infect. This is because the body streams a lot of blood to the hands and fingers, but less to the feet and toes. Less circulation means that the body is paying less attention to these parts, and that makes it that much easier for fungi to creep in under the body’s immunity radar, and set up camp.

What does a fungal infection look and feel like?

Well, the visual and tactile symptoms of fungus of the fingernails and toenails are many and varied. They include, but are not limited to:

  • An unpleasant odor emanating from the infected nails
  • Unnaturally thick nails
  • Pains in the infected nails and the areas surrounding them
  • Distortion of the nail’s shape and texture
  • Discoloration (light or dark) of the infected nails
risk group

Risk Groups

Risk groups: Certain people – or groups of people – are at a greater risk of contracting this common, yet very unpleasant, condition. Fungal infection of the nails can technically affect anyone and everyone, but there are those of us who may catch it with greater ease than others. These groups include:

  1. Well, first of all, men. Men are at a larger risk than women. Aren’t you lucky!
  2. Older men and women, since there is less blood circulating as we age. And, as stated earlier, less circulation means less ways in which the body can detect an attack.
  3. Descendants of those who suffer from repeated cases of nail fungus. It’s a genetic tendency, which can be passed on to future generations.
  4. Those who do not practice proper personal hygiene.
  5. Sufferers of diabetes.
  6. Individuals who are continually exposed to wet and / or damp conditions.

Nail fungus is indeed common, but you need to get it properly taken care of. Just like any illness or ailment, complications can arise if left untreated. Not taking care of your nail fungus could result in permanent damage to your nails. It can also pave the way for more serious infections, especially if you already suffer from some other medical condition which weakens the immune system (such as diabetes).

Nail Fungus Treatment

There are several ways of treating fungal infections of the nail. First, there are nonprescription, over-the-counter pharmaceutical creams and ointments. Second, there are anti-fungal prescription drugs. These may come in pill form, or in the form of nail polish or nail cream. Third, there is the option of surgical intervention for removal of the nail (mostly in very severe and painful cases). Fourth, there is the option of photo-therapy (light and laser treatment). This is a relatively new approach to curing this ailment, and it is not available everywhere. More studies are being conducted on the benefits of photo-therapy.

Whichever route you choose to take, there is also another ingredient which could help you rid yourself of this condition. It is natural, it is accessible, and it is one of the best remedies for toenail and fingernail fungus – Australian tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil uses include anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-septic, and anti-viral properties. This makes it a powerful agent in fighting infections of all kinds, especially those which are right on the actual skin. Tea tree oil knows how to get rid of the “bad guys”, without putting the body through misery.

As opposed to commercial products, tea tree is a natural substance. Many anti-fungal drugs and over-the-counter pharmaceutical products contain harsh substances. These may very well cure your fungus, but they could potentially leave you sick with some serious side-effects. Usually, every single one of these anti-fungal drugs – from Lamisil to Sopranox – comes with a list of possible side-effects and warnings. Is this really the way to go?

Using tea tree oil for treatment of nail fungus is one of the simplest and easiest things ever. The most common treatment is carried out as follows:

curing toe-nail fungus

curing toe-nail fungus

  • First, trim and file the infected nail. Remove as much of the dead nail as possible. Be gentle! The infected and exposed areas can be very sensitive. Take your time, and take special measures to avoid scratching or breaking the surface of the clear, unaffected skin around the infected areas.
  • Wash fingernails or toenails thoroughly, with ordinary soap and water. No other cleanser should be used.
  • Apply tea tree oil to the nail using a cotton Q-tip or special brush, like with nail polish. Do this twice a day (morning and evening are best). Ideally, the nail should still be moist from the rinsing while you are applying the oil.
  • It takes time for nails to grow. You must be patient and allow it that time. As new nail growth comes in, be sure to file down and/or otherwise remove the dead portions. Filing the dead parts should be done once a week. Twice a week, if you have rapid nail growth, but it should probably be no more than twice. Excessive filing is no good either, since it may hinder the healing process, and set you back a few steps.

NOTE: Tea tree oil has been very beneficial for many individuals suffering from fungus of the nails. However – this remedy is not considered to be a clinically-proven solution, regardless of its considerable effectiveness. It is still viewed as a home remedy. Make sure you consult your physician, before attempting any home remedies or unconventional methods. Fungal infections are serious, and your doctor should be aware of any efforts being made on your part to rid yourself of your infection.

Caring For Your Tea Tree and Nails

Add Tea Tree to Other Oils

Add Tea Tree to Other Oils

As mentioned earlier, tea tree oil is normally very concentrated. Like all essential oils, it should be used with care. Tea tree is one of the most natural and helpful substances ever, but that doesn’t mean it cannot harm you, if used irresponsibly and in excess. Follow the detailed procedure, and keep your doctor’s appointments, in order to monitor the success of the treatment.

Tea tree should be kept in a cool, dark place. Be sure to keep the cap on top of the vial at all times, and remove it only for immediate use. Tea tree should be kept in glass, not plastic, and its exposure to air should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Plastic storage containers may very well ruin the tea tree oil’s usefulness, by exposing it to harmful components which reside inside the plastic. These components can not only strip this pure essential oil of its wonderfully beneficial properties, but they may also induce potentially harmful chemical reactions to occur within the oil itself. Eventually, after some plastic storage time, you will find that the oil has lost all of its usefulness, and has become quite the opposite. It can even act as a skin irritant, and – unless that’s your goal – it is better to not let it reach that state.

For these precise reasons, it is always best to use pure tea tree oil, which hasn’t been diluted or mixed with other substances. This is not written in stone, though. Tea tree oil can be combined with a variety of substances, and many choose to take advantage of that. Some substances, like rosemary essential oil and lavender essential oil, really complement the tea tree’s properties.  Others, however, can have nasty effects on it. If you want your tea tree oil to remain fresh and chemically stable, you need to keep a close watch on it, and make sure it is kept under the right conditions.

So, if you have an issue with fungus on your nails:

  • Step 1 would be to get in touch with your doctor and have it diagnosed. Your physician may choose to send you to a podiatrist or dermatologist, in which case it is all the better. These people know feet, and they know fungus.
  • Step 2 would be after the diagnosis, once different treatment options are placed in front of you to consider. It is at this time that you say to your physician: no thanks! No potentially harmful, liver-damaging, rash-inducing, headache-causing, gas-making, diarrhea-bringing meds for me! I want to go the cleaner, simpler, more natural route, before trying out anything that may provide me with the pleasures of unusual tastes in my mouth, stomach-pains, and / or mild nausea.

Of course, the doctor does have the last word. If your medical practitioner feels that the situation has escalated beyond the scope of home remedies, then by all means – follow the advice dispensed by him or her. Like I said, fungal infections are a serious matter. Tea tree oil really is an amazing thing, but so is Western medicine. If you’re past that point, you should do whatever it takes to get better. And, speaking of getting better, this is the best part of this entire article…

Avoidance: who wants to get a fungal infection, anyway?! Looking to prevent this condition from ever getting under your skin? Boy, have you come to the right place! Here are some habits you should pick up – and stick to – if you wish to avoid this exquisite unpleasantness:

proper foot wear

Proper foot wear

  • Keep nails short and dry
  • Change your socks
  • Choose well-ventilated footwear
  • Wear flip flops or something similar in public places such as pools, saunas, etc.
  • Use an anti-fungal spray on your feet and shoes
  • Don’t pick or otherwise break the skin around your nails
  • Treating your infected nails? Great! But remember to wash your hands after touch an infected area, since fungus can spread like fresh Skippy.

Stay dry and healthy!