Tea Tree Oil For Nail Fungus


Almost 10% of U.S adult population suffers from nail fungus or onychomycosis. (1) It occurs when fungus or mold grows underneath the nails which gradually make them brittle, weak, discolored and distorted.

Warm environments, spending a lot of time in water and injured nail are the main reasons for the fungus development. However, people who have weak immune system, athlete’s foot, diabetes are more prone to the risk of developing fungal infection. (2)

As per American Academy of Dermatology, toenail fungus is the more common than fingernail fungus. (3) Why? As the blood circulation is less, our immune system cannot readily detect and combat the infection in toenails. And another reason – feet are usually confined to shoes and fungus thrives in warm environments.

Nail fungus can be effectively treated at home using ingredients with strong antifungal properties like tea tree oil or oregano oil. In this article, let me provide you more information on why tea tree oil is effective and how you can use it to treat nail fungus.

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Is Tea Tree Oil Good for Treating Nail Fungus?

1. Acts as Antifungal

As per as study published in NCBI and Drugs.com, tea tree oil has shown to treat nail fungus as effective as clotrimazole (an antifungal medicine usually prescribed for nail fungus). (4)

Tea tree oil contains Terpinen – 4 – ol an anti-microbial disinfectant and anti – fungal property which leads to fungal death by destabilizing the cell membranes of fungus. (5)

2. Increases Absorption

Tea tree oil increases the absorbing and drug retention properties within the skin. It penetrates deep underneath the skin and combat the fungus causing infection.

3. Improves Nail Health

It speeds up the healing process and restores the smoothness, clarity and shine of the nail as well the skin surrounding it.

What tea tree oil treatments can prevent nail fungus?

tea tree oil for nail fungusThere are a number of ways that tea tree oil for nail fungus can be used. The most direct way is to dilute tea tree oil and use it directly on nails for two months. The process can be slow, but in time you will see a drastic improvement.

We have listed all ways to use tea tree oil for nail fungus below for your convenience. We recommend choosing any one of them and try it regularly.

Note: As our toe nails grow very slowly, it takes at least a month to completely cure the infection. So, try the process regularly with some patience.

1. Tea Tree Oil (Diluted)

Tea tree oil should never be used without diluting. Direct application can cause severe burning sensation and irritation.

  • Combine 3 drops tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon water.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the solution on affected nails.
  • Leave the application for 10 minutes.
  • Using a clean toothbrush, gently scrub the nail.
  • Rinse with cool water and towel dry.
  • Repeat the process daily.

2. Tea Tree Oil Soak

Soaking helps the tea tree oil to reach underneath the nail and fight off the infection. The warm water discourages the fungus ability to thrive. This process exfoliates the dead fungus material, dead skin cells and other impurities.

  • Fill a large bowl with warm water.
  • Add 6 drops of tea tree oil and stir well.
  • Soak finger or toenails for 10 minutes in the solution and towel dry.
  • Repeat the process twice a day for effective results.

Note: You can add 1/2 cup of warm cider vinegar and 2 drops of peppermint oil for added benefits.

3. Tea Tree Oil, Orange Oil and Grape Seed Oil

Orange oil has shown promising results in treating nail fungus as it contains fungicidal properties. (6) Grape seed oil is also rich in antifungal and antibacterial properties (7)

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil, ½ teaspoon each of grape seed oil, and orange oil.
  • Dip a cotton ball in oil mixture and hold it against the affected nail for 3 minutes.
  • Remove cotton ball and let nail dry completely.
  • Repeat the application daily to achieve the results.

Note: Grape seed oil can be replaced with coconut oil.

4. Tea Tree Oil and Olive Oil

As per few studies, olive oil contains hydroxytyrosol, an antioxidant which is effective in killing the fungus, yeast and molds associated with toenail or fingernail fungus. (8) Olive oil also helps to speed up healing process of skin surrounding the affected nail.

  • Mix equal quantities of tea tree oil and olive oil.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the mixture on nails and allow to dry.
  • Rinse with water and pat dry.
  • Repeat the process regularly.

Note: You can use olive leaf extract oil or ozonated olive oil instead of virgin olive oil.

Alternative: You can use lavender oil instead of olive oil and follow the same process. Lavender oil possess antiseptic properties and volatile compounds that fight against the fungus. (9)

5. Tea Tree Oil and Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar balances the pH levels which creates an inhospitable environment for fungus to thrive. Its antifungal properties kill the fungus while its acidic nature prevents it from spreading. (10)

  • Fill a bowl with warm water and add cup of apple cider vinegar.
  • Soak finger or toenails for up to 40 minutes and towel dry.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply diluted tea tree oil on the infected tooth and leave it to dry completely.
  • Repeat the process 2 times in a day

Alternative Method: Combine apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Apply on the affected nail with cotton ball or Q-tip.

6. Tea Tree Oil and Coconut Oil

Fatty acids present in coconut oil insert themselves in lipid layer of the fungal cell membranes. This eventually leads to disintegration and destruction of fungus. (11) Apart from that, it also improves the health of nail and skin surrounding it.

  • Melt ¼ cup of organic coconut oil and stir in 15 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Pour into glass container and let stand until solidified.
  • Apply the cream on nails 2-3 times a day, especially after showers and before going to bed.

Alternative Method: Combine 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, 10 drops each of oregano oil, tea tree oil, garlic oil, peppermint oil and clove oil. Apply the mixture on the infected nail and massage gently. Leave it to dry completely. Repeat the application daily.

7. Tea Tree Oil and Oregano Oil

The carvocrol compound present in oregano oil possesses potent fungicidal properties which makes it an effective remedy to combat nail fungus. (12)

  • Melt 3 tablespoons of organic coconut oil.
  • Add 30 drops each of tea tree oil and oregano oil.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the mixture on the infected finger or toenail.
  • Leave it to dry completely without rinsing off.
  • Repeat the process once in a day until infection clears.

8. Tea Tree Oil and Pau d’Arco

Pau d’Arco contains various napthaquinones, lapachol, xyloidone and other compounds which inhibit the fungal growth by restricting its ability to reproduce or replicate. (13)

  • Mix 8 tablespoons of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Pau d’Arco tincture, ¼ teaspoon of tea tree oil, ¼ teaspoon of lavender oil, and 1/8 teaspoon of peppermint oil.
  • Soak a cotton ball in this mixture and hold it against the affected nail for up to 20 minutes.
  • Remove the cotton ball and pat it dry completely.
  • Repeat the process 3 times in a day.

9. Tea Tree Oil and Baking Soda

Baking soda contains fungistatic properties which kills the fungus causing infection. It also balances the pH levels which creates an inhospitable environment for fungus to thrive. (14)

  • Combine 3 drops each of tea tree oil, basil oil, and sage oil.
  • Add 2 teaspoons each of baking soda and arrowroot powder into it.
  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly until combined well.
  • Apply the mixture on the infected finger or toenails and wear socks.
  • Leave it on for 20 minutes and remove socks.
  • Rinse with cool water, and towel dry.
  • Repeat the process once in a day until the infection clears.

10. Tea Tree Oil and Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol contains sterilizing properties which are helpful in killing the fungus. (15) This method is effective for nail fungus in mild cases or budding stage. It may not be effective for severe nail fungus infections.

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of alcohol, 10 drops of grape seed extract, and 20 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Pour into spray bottle and shake gently.
  • Spray the mixture on nails and let it air dry.
  • Now massage a small amount of coconut oil and leave it to dry.
  • Repeat the process once in a day.

11. Tea Tree Oil and DMSO

DMSO is a natural solvent which helps the tea tree oil to penetrate deeply under the nail and kill the fungus. This process may not be effective for people with severe fungal infection.

  • Mix 1 part of DMSO and 9 parts of tea tree oil.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the mixture on the nails.
  • Cover with bandage and leave it on for few minutes.
  • Remove bandage, rinse with cool water, and towel dry.
  • Repeat the process daily.

12. Tea Tree Oil and Aloe Vera

Aloe vera contains antifungal properties which help to combat fungus causing the infection. It also helps to speed up the healing process. (16)

  • Mix 1 part of freshly extracted aloe vera gel and 3 parts of tea tree oil.
  • Apply the mixture on the infected finger or toenail.
  • Gently massage for few minutes and leave it to dry completely.
  • Repeat the process once in a day.

13. Tea Tree Oil and Mustard Oil

Mustard oil contains strong anti-microbial properties which help to kill the fungus causing infection. This process is effective for treating mild to moderate nail fungus infections. (17)

  • Combine 1 tablespoon of mustard oil and 3 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Apply the mixture on the toe or finger nails and allow to dry completely.
  • Repeat the process once or twice in a day.

14. Tea Tree Oil, Garlic and Calendula Flowers

The allicin present in garlic possesses strong antimicrobial properties which are effective in dealing with fungus. (18) Calendula flowers also contain antifungal properties. (19) This combination is effective in treating moderate to severe nail fungus infection.

  • Heat 3 tablespoon of olive oil on low flame.
  • Add 4 garlic cloves (minced) and 10 shredded calendula leaves.
  • Let it simmer for 7 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, strain, and let it stand aside overnight.
  • In the morning, stir in 1 tablespoon of vitamin E cream or oil and 3 teaspoons of tea tree oil.
  • Mix well and apply enough amounts of the mixture on infected nails.
  • Repeat the process 3 times in a day.

Note: Store the remaining mixture in an airtight container for daily use.

15. Tea Tree Oil Lotion

This lotion contains a combination of tea tree oil, lavender oil and apple cider vinegar. Its application is effective in clearing moderate finger or toe nail fungus.

  • Pour 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a dark glass bottle.
  • Add 10 drops of lavender oil and 6 drops of tea tree oil and shake it well.
  • After that, add 1/8 cup of distilled or boiled water and shake vigorously until mixed well.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the lotion on the affected nail.
  • Repeat up to 4 times in a day. Make sure to shake the bottle before use.

Note: You can use rose water instead of distilled water.

16. Tea Tree Oil and Camphor Oil

The combination of tea tree oil and camphor oil is very effective in treating moderate to severe nail fungus infections. This blend shows a strong antifungal effect on the infection which helps to cure it quickly.

  • Mix 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, 3 drops of tea tree oil, and 2 drops of camphor oil.
  • Pour into bottle, close lid, shake vigorously until the ingredients incorporate well.
  • Apply the solution directly on infected finger or toe nail.
  • Repeat the application 4 times in a day. Make sure to shake the bottle before use.

17. Tea Tree Oil and Cornstarch

If you are a sports person or if you have to wear shoes daily for a longer period of time then this process helps to prevent the infection. The cornstarch absorbs the moisture in the shoes and prevents the fungus from thriving.

  • Add 4 tablespoons of cornstarch into a plastic Ziploc bag.
  • Add 15 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of lavender oil into it.
  • Close the bag and shake it to mix the ingredients well.
  • Let it stand aside for 24 hours.
  • Apply powder to nails daily before putting on socks. Make sure to shake well before use.

Note: You can use unscented talc powder instead of cornstarch.

18. Tea Tree Oil and Lemon Juice

Lemon juice contains antiseptic and antifungal properties. The citric acid present in lemon also helps to restrict the nail fungus infection from spreading. (20)

  • Combine juice of 1 lemon and 2 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Mix well and apply the solution on the infected nail.
  • Leave it to dry completely.
  • Rinse off with water and pat dry thoroughly.
  • Repeat the process 2 times in a day.

19. Tea Tree Oil and Neem Oil

Neem oil contains potent antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties which help to kill the fungus. This combination is effective for treating severe nail fungus. (21)

  • Combine 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 2 drops each of tea tree oil and neem oil.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the mixture on the infected nail.
  • Leave it to dry completely.
  • Repeat the process 2 times in a day.

20. Tea Tree Oil and Vicks

Vicks contains three main ingredients – menthol, camphor and eucalyptus. They are effective in combating infection caused by fungus, mold and bacteria. (22)

  • Gently massage diluted tea tree oil on the clean infected nail.
  • Let it dry for few minutes.
  • Gently rub the Vicks vaporub (or cough suppressant) on that affected nail.
  • Leave the application for few minutes and wipe it off thoroughly.
  • Repeat the process once in a day.

Note: It may cause slight irritation but it will eventually clear the infection.

How to Enhance the Tea Tree Oil treatment?

Preparing nails before the tree oil application plays an important role in improving the treatment and speeding up the healing process. Here’s how you have to prepare your nails…

  1. Using a nail clipper, gently scrub off the dead nails. But make sure to avoid damaging the skin surrounding it.
  2. Using a nail filer, file down the infected nail further. It is better to use medium grade or fine grade filers. This helps the application to penetrate easily.
  3. Using a soap lotion, clean the nails to get rid of dust, dirt or any other impurities.

Side Effects of Tea Tree Oil

Though tea tree oil contains numerous medicinal properties, it is still important to be informed regarding the possible risks of over-using it.

One of the common side effect of tea tree oil is skin irritation which shows symptoms like redness, inflammation and itchiness. This can be caused due to allergic reaction of tea tree oil. So, we always recommend to patch test before using it on the infected nail.

Consumption of tea tree oil can be fatal so avoid it. Don’t get tea tree oil into eyes as it can lead to irritation and other discomforts.

Precautions to Take for Preventing or Treating Nail Fungus

  • Maintain short and clean nails as it helps to prevent bacteria getting clogged up under the nails. Use a manicure kit to maintain clean nails.
  • Make sure to wear shoes or sandals in public places like swimming pool, gym, and others. As nail fungus is contagious, it can easily spread in these places.
  • Prefer wearing sandals instead of shoes if it is not necessary. Shoes create a warm and dark environment which can lead to fungal growth.
  • Make sure to wear ventilated socks which restrict moisture buildup and promote air circulation.
  • Wear preventive gloves while cleaning clothes or washing dishes. It helps to avoid any further complications and also keeps your hands dry.
  • If nail fungus persists even after trying home remedies for more than 8 weeks then consults a podiatrist.
  • Instead of normal nail polishes, it is better to use medicated ones.

How Long Does it Take for Tea Tree Oil to Treat Nail Fungus?

Usually, it depends on the infection severity levels and healing capability of a person. So, it takes several months to notice the results. Toenail fungus infection takes more time than fingernail fungus because toe nails grow very slowly.

Which Tea Tree Oil is Best to Use?

You have to use 100% pure Australian melaleuca tea tree oil for best results. Few products we recommend include

Conclusion

Tea tree oil is beneficial in treating nail fungus, but however you have to follow the application regularly and have some patience to achieve the results.

No matter how effective tea tree oil is, we recommend patch testing it before starting regular treatment. It is always better to start with small quantities and gradually increase to the amount specified. And make sure to dilute it properly as direct application may be too strong.

Meanwhile, we love to hear your experiences. And if you have any queries, write to us in the comment section below. We will answer them as soon as possible.

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