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Pros and cons of natural remedies for nail fungus

Dr. Kline & Green Team
15 November 2019
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Natural remedies are becoming more and more prevalent as most people begin to realize that the answer to their nail health lies within their kitchen cabinets downstairs. For the longest time, onychomycosis, the most common nail fungus, has been treated with potent oral antifungals due to the persistent nature of the nail disease. However, oral antifungals can have compromising effects in people with immunosuppressive diseases, such as diabetes and psoriasis, leading to health care complications such as liver damage or medical amputation in the worst cases (1, 2).

Also, oral antifungals can take up to 18 months for complete restoration of the original affected toenail or finger nail bed, yet results still show a high relapse rate of up to 53% (1). On the other hand, although they are new to the nail scene, natural remedies can have significant positive effects on the nail barrier and ward off fungal growth. To start off, here is a list of the most common natural remedies for nails.

1. For yellow, discolored nails caused by too much nail polish and too many acrylic nail appointments, use hot oil and lemon.

2. For moisturizing and maintaining the nail barrier, alternate between olive oil or Vaseline and sea salt soaks.

3. And lastly for antifungal properties, use tea tree oil in your formulations

Natural remedies have a lot of advantages on potentially infected nails, specifically for being inexpensive with a lower risk of harmful side effects, such as the ones stated above. Most oral antifungals are prescribed with the possibility of the fungal strain building antibiotic-resistance to the simple chemicals used in the formulations. Luckily, natural remedies lower the risk of antibiotic-resistance due to the naturally complex biological composition of the plant-based treatments. The body is also more able to tolerate these biologically safer remedies due to the fact that most of these ingredients naturally occur in our body, diet, and in nature (1).

There’s also the fact that natural remedies for fungal infections are more easily accessible due to their prevalence in kitchen and home settings. However, natural remedies can pose some disadvantages, due to the lack of applied scientific evidence underlying the biological mechanisms of these natural components. Because of this, natural remedies are becoming more of a preventive measure for ensuring optimal nail health rather than current treatments for severe onychomycosis, which most likely requires laser treatments and chemical removal.  Reducing or preventing nail fungus can also have skin benefits too, as according to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 10 percent of dermatological conditions are nail related.

Natural remedies also still pose a lengthy process for complete elimination of the nail fungus and there still remains a higher prevalence of clinical methods in the area of nail health.  Although natural remedies are not sufficient when used on their own for medical nail functions, they can be used as complementary topicals alongside more potent formulations. For optimal nail health, I would recommend using natural remedies along with a combination of Clear + Restore to first eliminate the nail fungus and Hydrate to maintain the natural nail barrier.

References: 1. Christenson, J. K., Peterson, G. M., & Naunton, M. (2018). “Challenges and opportunities in the management of onychomycosis.” J Fungi (Basel) 4(3), doi: 10.3390/jof40300872. 

2. Ghannoum, M., & Isham, N. (2014). “Fungal nail infections (onychomycosis): a never-ending story?.” Public Library of Science Pathogens 10(6), doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.10041053. 

3. Glover, J. (2014, Nov. 6). “Natural solutions: 10 home remedies for weak and brittle nails!”. Retrieved from: https://youqueen.com/beauty/

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