Can Nail Fungi Cause Pain? Find Out How You Can Fight It

Nail fungus doesn't usually cause pain unless the infection has advanced to significant levels, in which case you should see a doctor.
Can Nail Fungi Cause Pain? Find Out How You Can Fight It

Last update: 30 May, 2021

Fungus on the nails is a problem that causes some concern. Although it is not always serious or noticeable, because the symptoms gradually appear, many people prefer to treat it as soon as possible.

In the beginning, the nail will go through a change in color and texture. Later, when the infection advances, the nail becomes weaker, which can often cause the entire nail to fall off.

Can nail fungus cause pain? Patients with this condition usually ask themselves this question because normally at the beginning there’s no pain. However, when you don’t treat it and it gets worse, it’s very likely that you’ll experience an increase in sensitivity around the affected area, which causes pain and other symptoms.

In this article, you can take a look at the main causes of nail fungi and several natural remedies to help fight it effectively.

Why do you get fungi on your nails?

In medical terms, nail fungi are known as onychomycosis. This is an infection that occurs when dermatophytes and yeasts multiply excessively, either on the nails of the hands or feet.

These microorganisms can grow more easily in humid and warm environments.  Just like those that are on some shoes. In addition, fungi may indicate a weakening of the immune system, since there aren’t enough defenses to stop them.

Risk factors

  • Contact with humid and warm environments in public spaces such as swimming pools, gyms, or showers
  • Not drying your feet carefully after showering
  • Using shoes or socks whose material doesn’t allow proper foot perspiration (i.e., many textiles that aren’t cotton)
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Nail deformities

Do nail fungi cause pain?

Many people have doubts regarding the symptoms of onychomycosis. Although changes in the nails are obvious symptoms, many people still doubt there’s an infection due to the absence of pain. In order to clarify this doubt, it should be noted that fungi don’t always cause pain in the affected area. The problem advances progressively and causes pain when the infection becomes severe.

Fungal symptoms may include:

  • Changes in nail color
  • Nails that swell or deform
  • Nail breakage or total loss of a nail
  • Pain and itching on the skin surrounding the nail

Home remedies to fight against nail fungi

To combat nail fungus, it’s best to see a doctor and follow their instructions. However, some folk remedies have been suggested that are believed to be useful in mild cases.

Tea tree essential oil

A bottle of tea tree oil.

Antimicrobial and antifungal properties are attributed to this essential oil, therefore, it’s considered a valid option to fight nail fungus and also to disinfect shoes.

How do you use it?

  • Put some oil onto a cotton pad and rub it over the affected nail.
  • Use it twice a day, until your nail is completely cured.

Lemon juice

Because of its content of organic acids and essential oils, lemon juice is believed to have the ability to alter the environment that microorganisms need to proliferate.

How do you use it?

  • Rub half a lemon on the affected nail and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • Rinse and repeat the application up to 3 times a day.

Onion

Onions on a cutting board.
Evidence suggests that onions have components with an anti-inflammatory capacity.

The sulfurous compounds of onion have an anti-fungal action that can control the multiplication of fungi in order to improve the appearance of the affected nail.

How do you use it?

  • Cut a piece of onion and place it on your nail by using a bandage.
  • Leave it overnight.
  • Repeat the treatment for at least 2 weeks.

Oregano essential oil

Oregano essential oil is known for its ability to improve respiratory health, and it’s another useful ingredient to fight against this type of infection.

How do you use it?

  • Apply a little oregano essential oil on the affected nails and let it work without rinsing.

Apple cider vinegar

Apples and apple cider vinegar.
Science has studied apple cider vinegar and its implications on health, discovering positive effects.

This ingredient contains organic acids that could supposedly help eliminate nail fungus naturally.

Its direct application is said to alter the conditions that fungi need to grow, making it easier to control the infection.

How do you use it?

  • Pour some apple cider vinegar on the affected nails.
  • Another option is to add the vinegar to a bowl with warm water and submerge the feet or hands for 20 minutes.

Last recommendations

In case you experience any unfavorable reaction, immediately discontinue the use of the remedies and consult your doctor. On the other hand, under no circumstances should you combine several remedies at the same time, as this may be counterproductive.

If your doctor has prescribed a particular treatment, don’t substitute it with these remedies, as you may experience adverse reactions and interfere with their strategy.

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  • Sulaiman, E., Purwanto, B., Lasminingrum, L., Dewi, Y. A., & Mahdiani, S. (2015). Potency of Vinegar Therapy in Otomycosis Patients. Journal of Medicine and Health Potency of Vinegar Therapy.
  • Chao, S. C., Young, D. G., & Oberg, C. J. (2000). Screening for inhibitory activity of essential oils on selected bacteria, fungi and viruses. Journal of Essential Oil Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/10412905.2000.9712177
  • Larson, D., & Jacob, S. E. (2012). Tea tree oil. Dermatitis. https://doi.org/10.1097/DER.0b013e31823e202d