Do Remedies for Onychomycosis of the Hand and Foot Work?

Remedies for onychomycosis of the hand and foot are very popular. However, are the effective? In this article we'll answer that question. We'll tell you what the experts say and how to treat this fungal infection.
Do Remedies for Onychomycosis of the Hand and Foot Work?

Last update: 02 June, 2020

Many people look for remedies for onychomycosis of the hand and foot. This affliction, which causes a white or yellow discoloration, in addition to itching and other discomfort in the nails, makes up a third of all skin fungal infections.

According to information published in the Journal of Fungi, the infection is caused by dermophyte fungi that take root under the nail plate. Because of this, it’s often a difficult condition to eliminate and its symptoms tend to reappear after a time. We’ll take a look below at what’s known about it.

Onychomycosis: what you should know

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection found both on the fingernails and toenails. However, the latter are normally more affected. Although it’s not a serious affliction, it is a public health problem due to its high prevalence, poor response to treatment, and the health effects it has.

As explained by the American Academy of Dermatology, conditions of heat and humidity, like pool or public locker rooms, promote the infection. Additionally, it’s related to a lack of hygiene, sweating, and closed shoes, or any other situation that exposes your nails to moisture for a long time.

The symptoms include:

  • White spots or nail color change
  • Thickening of nails
  • Fragile nails that crumble or lift from the toe or finger
  • Irregular nails
  • Itching or bad smell (in a few cases)
A toe with onychomycosis.
You can find onychomycosis on your fingernails and toenails.

The majority of cases are light and don’t affect anything more than appearance. However, when the infection has complications, it can be painful and, in fact, can cause irreversible damage to the nails. Likewise, if you have diabetes or an illness that compromises your immune system, then you should take care.

If that’s the case, it’s important to seek medical attention, since any injury on the feet, including this kind of infection, can turn into serious complications due to your immune response and circulatory problems.

Do onychomycosis remedies work?

In popular literature there are a wide variety of remedies for onychomycosis. However, experts are still questioning these methods. In a study in the Journal of Fungi, they indicate that options like tea tree oil and the plant known as ageratina pichinchensis showed antifungal activity.

Other substances like propolis and Vicks Vaporub also had positive effects against onychomycosis in some pilot studies. Nevertheless, the results aren’t conclusive and more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these kinds of treatments.

In spite of this, it’s acceptable to use them as complementary treatments, since they haven’t shown any adverse effects in humans, which suggests that they should be safe and tolerable. Of course, whenever possible, you should use them together with medical treatments.

Vials of tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil showed antifungal activity in some studies, which is why it could be a treatment option.

Pharmaceutical treatments

To date, the most accepted treatments for onychomycosis are pharmaceuticals. Although they’re also being investigated. These treatment options are available as topical and oral treatments, and you can see more in a publication in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The topical agents include lacquer formulas like amorolfine 5% and ciclopirox 8%. Creams, powders, and other topical products aren’t normally as effective because they don’t penetrate as easily.

Meanwhile, oral treatment can include griseofulvin, terbinafine, itraconazole and ketoconazole. These require a longer period of use and have a higher risk of side effects, like headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and skin rashes, among others.

Due to this, you should follow the dosage instructions and usage time recommended by a professional. You should also keep in mind that you have to use both options consistently in order to get results. If you don’t, the infection could continue or even worsen.

What else can help against onychomycosis?

When faced with a problem like onychomycosis, it’s important to consult your dermatologists to get a proper diagnosis and treatment depending on the case. Additionally, you can take some simple self-care measures. For example, wearing open shoes, drying your feet well, and wearing shoes in moist areas like pools, showers, and locker rooms.

It might interest you...
Possible Foot Problems Caused by Flip Flops
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
Possible Foot Problems Caused by Flip Flops

Although they are tempting to use when it is hot outside, the use of flip flops has some disadvantages that you should know about.

  • Christenson JK, Peterson GM, Naunton M, et al. Challenges and Opportunities in the Management of Onychomycosis. J Fungi (Basel). 2018;4(3):87. Published 2018 Jul 24. doi:10.3390/jof4030087
  • Hammer, K. A. (2002). In vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against dermatophytes and other filamentous fungi. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy50(2), 195–199.
  • Romero-Cerecero, O., Román-Ramos, R., Zamilpa, A., Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E., Rojas-Bribiesca, G., & Tortoriello, J. (2009). Clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of two concentrations of the Ageratina pichinchensis extract in the topical treatment of onychomycosis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology126(1), 74–78.
  • Veiga, F. F., Gadelha, M. C., da Silva, M. R. T., Costa, M. I., Kischkel, B., de Castro-Hoshino, L. V., … Svidzinski, T. I. E. (2018). Propolis extract for onychomycosis topical treatment: From bench to clinic. Frontiers in Microbiology9(APR).
  • Derby, R., Rohal, P., Jackson, C., Beutler, A., & Olsen, C. (2011). Novel treatment of onychomycosis using over-the-counter mentholated ointment: A clinical case series. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine24(1), 69–74.
  • Shirwaikar AA, Thomas T, Shirwaikar A, Lobo R, Prabhu KS. Treatment of onychomycosis: an update. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2008;70(6):710–714. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.49088