Nail fungus - causes, symptoms, home remedies and therapy

Nail fungus - home remedies can help
A nail fungus not only looks ugly, but is a disease that must be treated. Simultaneous use of naturopathic therapies and / or home remedies can support healing.

When talking about nail fungus, the fungus in the area of ​​the toenails is usually meant. Nail fungus is much less common on the hands. The reason for this is that the feet are much more likely to be in a warm, humid climate, which in turn the mushrooms like very much. The big toe and small toe are most often affected by nail fungus. However, fungi can usually affect all areas of the skin and their appendages, such as nails and hair. In technical terms, the nail fungus is called onychomycosis.

Pathogens, risk factors

Filamentous fungi, yeasts and molds are the causative agents of nail fungus diseases, the filamentous fungi being the main culprits. These need horn material (keratin) for their existence. In order for the pathogens to penetrate, the nail cornea must be defective. An existing skin fungus may reach the nail - the reverse order is also possible. Athlete's foot can heal without treatment, but nail fungus cannot.

Even if the pathogens mentioned are on the skin and nails, they do not necessarily have to trigger a disease. As a rule, other (risk) factors are involved in the development of the nail fungus. These include genetic predisposition, airtight, tight shoes, sweating in the shoe, unsuitable sock material (synthetic), circulatory disorders, diabetes mellitus, psoriasis (psoriasis), disorders in lymphatic drainage and vascular diseases.

Groups of people like athletes and seniors are more likely to get a nail fungus. Athletes because they sweat a lot, may wear shoes that are too tight and therefore have the smallest injuries in the nail area. Seniors tend to do this because their immune systems often no longer function as well, the defense in the area of ​​the skin weakens and the blood circulation is no longer optimal. Heavy smokers are also at risk.


The pathogens lurk especially where many people walk barefoot, such as in saunas, public swimming pools, in gyms, fitness studios, in showers and changing rooms. But floor coverings or towels can also transmit the fungal spores. The fungus directly affects the nail, enters through the nail bed and / or spreads due to an existing athlete's foot.


The symptoms of nail fungus are nail discolouration (yellowish, brownish), the nails lose their shine and become increasingly cloudy to opaque. Furthermore, they no longer grow properly and the cuticles become inflamed. The nail plate becomes thicker and uneven and crumbles on the free edges. In the worst case, if the fungus is completely ignored and not treated at all, the nail plate will be completely destroyed. This then detaches from the nail bed. In addition, nail bed inflammation can occur, which is not only painful but can spread to other nails and the skin.

Nail fungus in diabetics

Diabetics are among the risk patients for the development of a nail fungus. Many of them suffer from it again and again. This is because these patients often have poor blood circulation and a weakened immune system. It is also known that diabetics with a nail fungus are more likely to get an open ulcer on their feet than diabetics without a fungal disease. The patients often suffer from so-called neuropathies, which means that they do not feel any injuries to the skin surface and the pathogens can penetrate here completely unnoticed. Therefore, the treatment of nail fungus is particularly important for diabetics and requires very careful implementation. If the applied agents do not work, the doctor must be consulted again.


A doctor usually recognizes the nail fungus by its characteristic appearance. But there are other nail diseases, such as nail eczema, nail psoriasis and nodular lichen, which are similar to the fungal disease. For this reason, a piece of the nail is usually examined in the laboratory, a fungus culture is established and the type of fungus responsible for the disease is determined. The exact diagnosis can thus be made and the nail fungus can be treated in a very targeted manner.

In conventional medicine treatment, nail polishes, creams, solutions and ointments are available. Depending on the extent of the nail fungus and the previous disease, such as diabetes mellitus, systemic treatment is used, which means that those affected are prescribed a preparation together with local therapy that is to be taken orally. This naturally spreads throughout the bloodstream and can cause some side effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, dark urine, swollen lymph glands and massive exhaustion.

The earlier the fungus is treated, the faster it heals. Otherwise, the therapy can take a long time, the fungus can damage the nail completely and possibly even spread to the skin. The treatment takes time, up to a year, and must be carried out carefully and constantly. Even if there are no symptoms, spores can still be present.

Preventive measures

The pathogens for nail fungus cannot be seen with the naked eye. Preventive measures are therefore important to protect yourself against infection. The mushrooms love moisture - it is important to remove them. This includes changing the socks every day and, if necessary, such as when sweating profusely, more often. It is best to avoid synthetic materials. After washing, the feet are dried off well, especially between the toes. In public swimming pools, saunas, etc., you should always wear your own bathing shoes and the disinfection showers offered should not be used. As the disinfectant it contains damages the skin flora, which destroys the natural skin barrier and germs can feel good.

It is best not to share towels with others and always wash them at a temperature of at least 60 ° C. In order not to infect others, it is best not to walk barefoot. This is also recommended at home so that family members do not become infected among themselves. Furthermore, it is recommended to wear well fitting and above all not too tight shoes. At best, these are made of a breathable material. Sneakers are best worn only for sports. Regular nail care is important. Diabetics should take pedicures and manicures seriously and check the nails regularly for changes. Disposable files are best used, because if there is a possible fungal infection, it can otherwise be spread further. If you already have a nail fungus, you can use a fungus-killing spray to disinfect your shoes.

Home remedies

Home remedies for nail fungus can be used at the same time as conventional medical therapy.

Coconut oil

The first thing to mention here is coconut oil, which is now on everyone's lips. This oil inhibits fungal growth and has a healing effect on the nail and the surrounding skin. The coconut oil is massaged into the affected nail areas at least twice a day - preferably with a disposable glove. In addition, the internal intake of coconut oil is recommended.

Essential oils: lavender oil, oregano oil, thyme oil, tea tree oil

Essential lavender oil has an antifungal effect. However, this is not applied neat, but is best mixed with a carrier oil. Here the coconut oil is recommended. So the effect is enhanced. There are two to three drops of lavender essential oil for every 20 ml of coconut oil. This is then used like pure coconut oil. If you don't like lavender oil, use oregano, thyme or tea tree oil. An oil mixture is also possible.


Horseradish is best known as a home remedy for sinus infections. This root is extremely germicidal and is therefore also used here. It is grated and diluted 1: 1 with boiled water. This mixture is dabbed with a cotton swab several times a day. The home remedy is stored in the refrigerator. However, the application is not entirely harmless. Horseradish is very hot and can irritate the skin. In addition, especially with repeated use, the nail should be cared for with an oil - for example almond oil or olive oil.


The marigold is not only pretty to look at, it also contains many healing substances. It disinfects, has a wound healing effect and, moreover, germicidal. A teaspoon of a marigold essence, which can be purchased in any pharmacy, is mixed with a quarter liter of boiled water and then dabbed onto the affected areas - preferably several times a day.

Baking soda

Ordinary household baking soda, which is normally used for baking, is in demand here. A mixture of soda and a little water is mixed and put on the nail. This causes the fungal spores to be inhibited from multiplying. The porridge remains on the nail until it has dried and is then washed off with lukewarm water.

Sage tea

Sage tea is a home remedy for excessive sweating. If those affected tend to sweat more on their feet, sage is the treatment of choice. Once inside, two to three cups a day and then for dabbing or in a foot bath. For internal use, it should be said that drinking sage tea should not be overstated. Sage tea can irritate the stomach - so be careful and take a break after two weeks.


For nail fungus, the brine is used both internally and externally. Chunks of salt crystal are covered with spring water in a screw-top jar. After about an hour, the 26 percent brine is ready. A teaspoon is stirred into a glass of water every day and drunk. Externally, the brine is dabbed on twice a day.

The chunks of salt in the screw-top jar must always be covered with spring water so that the brine can be used for a long time.

Naturopathic therapies

Naturopathic therapies can be carried out together with conventional medical treatment for nail fungus. Naturopathy likes to use nasturtium from phytotherapy. It has an antifungal and positive effect on the immune system. It is usually used internally in the mother tincture.

Those affected are additionally recommended to cold brush their nails at home, followed by an oak bark foot bath. For this, 50g oak bark is brought to a boil with half a liter of cold water, boiled for about 20 minutes, then strained and added to the foot bath.

Schüßler salts are used not only internally, but also externally against nail fungus, namely the salts No. 1 Calcium fluoratum, No. 3 Ferrum phosphoricum and No. 11 Silicea. On the outside, the porridge is mixed with a little water and applied, or the appropriate Schüßler ointments are used.

Homeopathy also has a right to exist when treating nail fungus. Remedies that can help are sepia, antimonium crudum, silicea, thuja and acid hydrofluoricum. The therapist selects the appropriate remedy based on the patient's medical history.

If there is an underlying disease, an attempt is generally made to treat it. Acupuncture, phytotherapy and reflexology are popular forms of therapy used in naturopathic practice.

Nail fungus always requires a look at the immune system. This is strengthened by suitable nutritional supplements such as zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D. The intake of black cumin oil has a stimulating effect on the immune system. Autologous blood therapy and anthroposophic medicine can also help.


In summary, it can be said that a nail fungus must be taken seriously. Hygiene, regular pedicures, manicures and not walking barefoot - all of this is very important. The immune system may need to be strengthened. It is important to pay attention to a healthy, vitamin-rich and basic diet. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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  • Mayo Clinic: Nail fungus (accessed: August 12, 2019), mayoclinic.org
  • National Health Service UK: Fungal nail infection (accessed: August 12, 2019), nhs.uk
  • Merck & Co., Inc .: Onychomycosis (accessed: August 12, 2019), msdmanuals.com
  • American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA): Toenail Fungus (accessed: August 12, 2019), apma.org

ICD codes for this disease: B35ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

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