Nail fungus, also called onychomycosis, is a stubborn condition because the fungi live deep under the nail and not on its surface. Nail fungus can make your toenail change color, get thicker and can be painful. Since your toes are often enclosed in a warm and damp environment, fungus grows well there.
Sometimes deformed nails resemble nails that are infected with fungus, so this could cause confusion. For example, dermatitis caused by psoriasis can affect the nail root and make the nail grow out abnormally. It’s important to consult a dermatologist before concluding an abnormal looking toenail is caused by a fungus.
What Is Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus is an infection that enters via splits in your toenail or skin cuts. If it’s not treated, an infection could spread to your other toenails, skin, or fingernails.
One or more of these symptoms could signal toenail fungus:
- Nail turns yellow or white
- Nail develops white spots
- Nail gets thicker or crumbles and splits
- Nail separates from the nail bed
- An unpleasant odor
What Is Toenail Fungus Caused By?
Nail fungus is mostly caused by microscopic organisms, called dermatophytes, that multiply under the nail bed and thrive in warm, damp conditions.
Is It Impacted by Sun Exposure?
Sunlight is the enemy of toenail fungus. Ultraviolet light is harmful or lethal to many forms of life including many forms of fungus. UVB in sunlight is the key factor. UVB is a potent natural germicidal agent, making it effective in ridding toenail fungus.
Certain Sun Exposure at Specific Times of Day Be Beneficial for Helping With Toenail Fungus
It’s best to go outdoors and expose your feet between the hours of 10am and 2pm. That’s when you’ll get the most exposure to the beneficial UVB rays radiating from the sun. Try consistent, daily exposure for at least a few months to see results.
Other Ways to Help Treat Nail Fungus
Another way to expose your nails to UVB rays is to buy an inexpensive nail polish dryer. It’s tailor made for concentrating rays onto your nails directly. Try using it on the floor by inserting your toenails into the opening while you’re sitting at the computer or watching television. Use it three to four times a week for about 30 minutes each time.
Apple cider vinegar has mildly acidic properties, so it’s good for preventing toenail fungus from spreading. It also is lethal to bacteria and fungi. Mix apple cider vinegar and water in equal parts. Soak your toenails 30 minutes each day. Afterwards, thoroughly dry toenails. Do this every day for a few weeks.
Tea tree oil has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Mix several drops of tea tree oil in one teaspoon of a carrier oil like coconut, olive or jojoba oil. Dab the mixture onto the affected toenail using a cotton ball. Leave the oil on for 10 minutes. Using a toothbrush, gently scrub the affected nail. You can do this two or three times a day until you see results.
Use Caution with Sunlight Exposure
While sunlight may help in curing your toenail fungus problem, keep in mind that sunlight exposure can cause other skin-related issues. It’s important to limit your sun exposure to avoid skin problems or use the proper sunscreen protection.
Greater Miami Skin & Laser Center’s own Dr. Nardo Zaias concludes that up to 73% of people who are told they have fungal infections have been misdiagnosed. For an expert diagnosis and the care of toenail fungal infections, contact us for a consultation by calling (305) 532-4478 or filling out the form on this page.