Whether you’re dealing with a nail infection, such as onychomycosis, or you’ve managed to snag yourself a case of athlete’s food, dealing with fungus is no fun. The itching and burning, combined with unsightly nails and foul odors, make for an embarrassing problem, and it can be difficult to treat it because of where the fungus likes to grow and the conditions in which it thrives. Whether sandwiched between your toes or hiding under your toenails, such fungal infections can be hard to get to. Also, these warm, tight spaces are often moist with sweat, which is perfect for fungus growth.
Given the busy nature of our lives, it’s easy for fungus to thrive in these conditions, as fungal infections take time to treat, and shoes and socks don’t help matters. As such, it may seem like a great idea to see a doctor or dermatologist to get a remedy. There are medications that will kill fungal growths, though they may not always provide the effectiveness you’re looking for, or they may come with unwanted side effects. When you think about it that way, a non-drug solution sounds a little better, doesn’t it?
Fortunately, there are some remedies for fungal infections that you don’t need a prescription for. Additionally, they are drug-free solutions, which means overall, they’ll be less expensive than prescription treatments as well, so they’re less hassle all around. According to Joe Graedon, MS, a pharmacologist at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy at Chapel Hill and author of The People’s Pharmacy, these treatments are some of the best when it comes to dealing with fungal infections. If you’re looking to save yourself a trip to the doctor’s office and the pharmacy, try making use of these products.
7. Vicks VapoRub
This household item is not just a tool for easier breathing. Believe it or not, it can also help you stymie a fungal infection. This is because of the presence of two key ingredients, camphor, and eucalyptus oil, both of which possess antifungal properties. In fact, according to a study by the U.S. Air Force that was then published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, applying Vicks VapoRub to affected areas at least once a day helped remedy fungal infections in nearly 85% of participants. 20% were able to cure their infections completely.
It’s not difficult to imagine how Listerine might help kill off a fungal infection. As an antiseptic, it’s well known for killing harmful bacteria in the mouth. However, the ingredients that make Listerine lethal to bacteria, thymol, and menthol, are also dangerous to various types of fungal infections as well. Consider soaking the affected area in a tub of Listerine for approximately an hour each day until the condition resolves. It may also help to include an equal portion of vinegar to the tub to make a solution, as the two can work together to defeat the infection.
Vinegar’s role in fighting fungal infections is simple. Remember that ideal environment mentioned earlier? Warm, moist, tight spaces are great for fungi. However, they do not like acidic environments very much. Soaking the affected area in vinegar creates an acidic environment for the fungi, which makes things uncomfortable for it. Does vinegar kill the fungus that grows between your toes and under your toenails? So far, research has only suggested that it makes life more difficult for certain types of fungus, but while it seems to hinder fungal growth, there’s still a need for more information to be sure.
4. Pau D’arco Tea
Pau d’arco is a tree native to South America, the bark of which has been used to treat a number of conditions. Due to the chemicals lapachol and beta-lapachone, the bark of the pau d’arco tree has been found effective in killing some forms of fungi, as well as other harmful microbes such as bacteria and viruses. As such, it stands to reason that a soak made from pau d’arco tea could handle fungal infections on the foot. That being said, there is still plenty of room for research determining exactly how useful pau d’arco is for treating such infections.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Speaking of trees and tea, tea tree oil is another touted remedy for fungal infections. Similar to vinegar, tea tree oil, otherwise known as Melaleuca alternifolia, has been found to inhibit the growth of various fungal infections. A study revealed that tea tree oil could potentially serve as a hindrance to fungal growth in combination with other treatment strategies.
2. Oregano Oil
Tea tree oil is not the only essential oil that can interfere with fungal infections. Oregano oil, which naturally contains low levels of the antimicrobial compound thymol, has likewise been found to inhibit the growth of fungi. While this is most prominent in agricultural situations, there is still relevance regarding the fungi responsible for toenail infections, Tinea unguium, as well as athlete’s foot. Additionally, it was found that a certain aromatic compound that included various essential oils, such as basal oil, tea tree oil, and clove oil, could prevent microbial growth, even in conditions ideal for such growth.
1. Urea Paste
If you’ve ever contracted athlete’s foot before, you’ve probably heard that peeing on your toes can help clear it up. It may sound gross, but it’s not without a grain of truth. The main component of urine, urea, is a key ingredient in many fungal treatments. This is because of the way it penetrates and dissolves tissue so that the medication can get in where it needs to go. Not in a hurry to take a tinkle on your toes? Purchase some urea paste over the counter, and use it with other treatments to hopefully settle your fungal frustrations.Related: 15 Benefits of Epsom Salt
It should be said that regardless of which treatment you choose, patience is a virtue. Whether you try these remedies or go to a doctor for a prescription instead, any cure will take time to work. Remember, more often than not, your feet are in an ideal state for fungus to grow, and these treatments do take time and diligence to work; daily foot baths and essential oil applications will clear up the problem, but it also helps to keep your feet clean and dry at all times in order to make your feet a less enticing target for fungal growth.