Nail fungus (also known as onychomycosis) is a serious and embarrassing problem for many individuals, which mainly affects toenails and less frequently, fingernails. In fact, it is estimated that almost half of the adult population deals with some form of nail fungus by the time they are seventy years old.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nail fungus stems from a similar organism to the one responsible for the development of ringworm.
Nail fungus is particularly stubborn because it invades the keratin of the nailbed, making the fungi harder to reach while protecting it from treatments.
Although eliminating the root cause of nail fungus is challenging, there are various treatment options available such as prescription medicine (Lamisil or Sporanox) and over the counter solutions (such as medicated nail polish). However these methods can be very expensive, do not always work permanently or for extreme cases of nail fungus, and may cause side effects like liver damage.
How to Use Bleach to Treat Nail Fungus
Bleach is a popular chemical disinfectant that has several applications that include removing stains and bacteria from linens and surfaces, purifying waste water and sterilizing the equipment used in medical and hospital settings. Household bleach is made up of three to six percent sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl), while its industrial strength counterpart varies between ten to twelve percent.
While it takes more time to work, bleach is a low cost and effective home remedy for treating nail fungus because it kills bacteria, viruses and different kinds of fungus on contact. Bleach is readily available, with most individuals already using it regularly for various reasons such as cosmetic (bleaching nails), laundry or general household cleaning.
There are three different ways to apply bleach.
- Bleach Soak
- Combine bleach and water in a bucket at a ratio of 1:100 or 1:10 depending on skin tolerance.
- Use a file to buff the surface of the nails down and clip each nail as low as possible to help the bleach solution get to infected areas.
- Submerge feet (or hands) in the bucket of water and soak for three to twenty minutes (the more bleach used, the shorter the soaking time).
- Dry feet thoroughly after treatment.
Soak the nails in bleach water twice each day to speed up the onychomycosis clearing process. For severe cases of nail fungus, it may take up to three months of consistent daily soaking treatments for the infection to clear completely.
- Bleach Pen
- After showering and drying, use a bleach pen on each nail as an alternative to soaking the affected areas.
This method works best for individuals with skin sensitivities, as it allows for precision placement.
- Bleach Paste
- Before showering, coat each affected nail with a generous dab of petroleum jelly.
- Add one to two drops of undilutedbleach to the petroleum jelly and let it sit for approximately 15 minutes.
- Shower normally and dry the skin thoroughly. After the shower, sand or file the treated nail down from the above as close to the bed as possible to make it thinner.
Ensuring success with the bleach treatment for toenail fungus requires a daily commitment that spans over at least two months. However, if the infection is severe, it may take even longer for maximum results. Bear in mind that stopping treatment prematurely can lead to a swift and aggressive return of nail fungus.
See a doctor for more treatment options if fungus shows no sign of improvement after eight weeks of treatment with bleach.
Warning: Be very careful when using bleach to treat nail fungus as it is a hazardous corrosive chemical. Bleach can damage eyes, skin and mucous tissues. Always dilute the chemical before application and use it in a well-ventilated area. Never use the bleach soaking method on hands and feet with broken skin, and stop immediately if there is any discomfort or adverse reaction during treatment.
Additional Tips that can Complement Bleach Treatment
When combined with following tips bleach treatment can be made even more effective:
- For two to three months, apply oregano or tea tree oil to treat mild nail fungal infections.
- Take approximately ten drops of oregano oil (which contains the antifungal compounds thymol and carvacrol) mixed with water orally for one to two months, reducing the dosage if heartburn develops. Note: This treatment is not suitable for nursing or pregnant women or individuals with stomach ulcers.
- Adopt an antifungal diet that omits simple sugars such as bread and soft drinks and includes lots of onions, garlic and other fungus fighting foods.
If left untreated, nail fungus gets progressively worse, spreading from one foot to the next toe by toe. For best results, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis.
Look for signs such as normal color and appearance returning to the nail (as well as new nail growth) to know that treatment was successful and the fungal infection is gone.
Tips for Preventing Re-infection with Nail Fungus
These preventative tips help to keep nail fungus at bay and control existing infections:
- Soak feet in a mixture of bleach and water (1:100 ratio) for twenty minutes every week to keep nails fungus free.
- Use calendula soap (a mild antiseptic) to wash feet thoroughly on a daily basis.
- Use a clean towel (exclusive use) to remove all traces of moisture from feet after showering.
- Cut nails regularly to prevent fungus from feeding on excessive keratin.
- Protect the feet with plastic sandals in public spaces such as community locker rooms and pools.
- Wear cotton socks and change them frequently, especially if they are damp with sweat.
- Wear comfortably fitting shoes and remove them from feet immediately if they get wet.