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Quick Answer: Best Essential Oils for Toenail Fungus

  1. Tea Tree Essential Oil
  2. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  3. Lavender Essential Oil
  4. Sandalwood Essential Oil
  5. Patchouli Essential Oil
  6. Myrrh Essential Oil
  7. Juniper (berry) Essential Oil
  8. Lemon Essential Oil
  9. Cinnamon Essential Oil
  10. Thyme Essential Oil
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Our foot often remains in socks and closed shoes, so the warm temperature, moisture, and sweat, become suitable for microorganisms to grow in it.

If left untreated, it can spread to the skin, other toenails or even fingernails.

Toenail fungus is fungal infection usually found in nails, or skin around the nail. The nails become thicker than normal, layered, yellowish, brittle, crumbling and moist. [1]

The medical term is onychomycosis (onycho: nails and mycosis: fungal infection). [2]

This can be hurting and painful and can lead to complete detachment of the nail from the nail bed due to fungus.

Other symptoms include warping, twisting of nails or an odd shape, smelly nail, white dots, and hardness. [3]

It is caused by various fungi (dermatophyte) [4] and some yeasts and molds,

Other causes could be attributed to poorly fitted shoes, lower blood flow in the toes compared to fingers and, therefore, leading to the inability of the body to fight off infection efficiently in toenails. [5]

Prevalence is more generally in aged people and men, diabetics [6], person with compromised immunity, athletes, smoker, and swimmer with wet or damp feet.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are natural plant products extracted from leaves, roots, the rind of fruits, flowers, resin or gum, stem, barks, twigs or even complete plants.

They are volatile, aromatic and low molecular weight compounds which are hydrophobic and lipophilic in nature.

Their chemical constituents are saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ethers, ketones, phenols, and terpenes.

They are extracted by steam distillation, hydro-distillation or solvent extraction methods.

The method of administration can be oral as gel capsule or mixed with honey, topical as a massage oil, night and day creams, and lotions and in aromatherapy as diffusers, baths, and inhalations.

Why Essential Oils For Toenail Fungus?

Essential oils have numerous health benefits and are antifungal in nature. They are analgesic and antimicrobial. [7]

The extract of the snakeroot plant is also a beneficial topical therapy. It belongs to the sunflower family and has antifungal action on the body and used in medical creams. [8]

Ozonized Sunflower oil has also shown curative effects on foot fungus caused by yeasts.[9]

Thieves oil (a blend of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, Rosemary) is topically applied as one drop a day on to the infected nail.

Essential oils are rich in esters such as linalyl acetate, geraniol acetate, eugenol acetate, bornyl acetate which exhibit strong anti-fungal properties and are curative in fungal infections such as toenail fungus, etc.

They are also anti-inflammatory thus relieving from associated inflammation of infection.  [10] [11]

Spiked pepper essential oil has protective effects against phytopathogens such as bacteria and fungi and has an analgesic effect on the body. [12]

Star anise oil constitutes of anethole which is a potent antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. [13]

Bergamot, peppermint, and geranium essential oil have antifungal activity against dermatophytes and can surely provide treatment for toenail fungus and athlete’s foot. [14] [15] [16]

Oregano essential oil is a powerful herb to treat toenail fungus, apply it 1-2 drops once a day to the infected toe. It contains carvacrol and thymol as an active fungicide.

Most Effective Essential Oils For Toenail Fungus

Essential oils are rich in antifungal or antimicrobial properties meaning they have the ability to fight off infection caused by fungus and stop them from growing further.

These properties are due to the chemical constituents present in them.

Carrier oils are vehicles that provide us with benefitting properties of essential oils; Apricot Kernel, Grapeseed, Almond, and Avocado are great base oils to use for treating toenail infections while Coconut[17] [18], Jojoba, Borage, and Evening Primrose are some of the vegetable oils to look for dilutions.

Read further to find out what all essential oils will cure toenail fungus and inhibit growth.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

The tea tree essential oil is steam distilled from leaves and twigs of a shrub having needles like leaves and purple flowers. It has a spicy and warm aroma.

The oil has Anti-Fungal [19], Anti- Infectious and bactericidal properties pertaining to high constituents of alcohol such as terpene-4-ol (29-58 %). [20]

The oil has fungicidal properties against dermatophytes and filamentous fungi. [21] [22]

The oil has natural antiseptic properties and can be applied to the infected nail twice a day. [23] [24]

The oil increases the body ability to fight off fungal infections due to the presence of p-cymene content. [25] It is as effective as clotrimazole as an antifungal agent.

A study showed the use of 5% tea tree oil in a cream base, for 16 weeks completely cured 80% of patients with toenail onychomycosis. [26]

A patch test is advisable because the oil can cause sensitization.

Best way to use: it can be used without carrier oils and great for compress and massage (topical application)

Blend: Jojoba oil (5 ml), Tea tree oil (2 drops), Lavender oil (2 drops), Oregano oil (1 drop), Carrot oil (5 drops).  Massage this blend in the cuticle and infected nails. [27]

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus oil is steam distilled from leaves and young twigs of a tall evergreen tree. It has a refreshing aroma.

It is highly antifungal [28] [29], anti-infectious, antiseptic and relieves from pain. It prevents the spread of infection further. [30]

The oil works for toenail fungus and is an effective remedy for it. [31] [32]

Use of this oil should be done cautiously on animals, pregnant women person with high blood pressure and children below five years.

Best way to use: Useful when applied topically and in baths.

Massage blend: use the following blend to inhibit infection in the nail. Take 10 drops each of tea tree and lavender oil diluted in 15 ml of vegetable oil. Take 3-4 drops and massage over the area. [33]

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil is extracted from flowering tops from an aromatic green woody shrub. It has a sweet, floral scent

The oil has antimicrobial action on the body. It reduces infection and is soothing, antiseptic and mitigates inflammation of the skin.

The oil treats foot infection due to its antifungal abilities. [34] [35]

Best way to use: It can be topically used as 3-4 drops on a cotton pad and apply on the infected nail.

Sandalwood Essential Oil

Sandalwood essential oil is extracted from roots and heartwood of a small evergreen tree. It has a deep, soft woody scent.

It can be effectively used for various skin types and fungal problems. [36]

Best way to use: The oil is used in inhalation and external application by massage or by compress.

Blend: Tea tree oil (4 drops), Lavender oil (4 drops), Sandalwood oil (2 drops). Use 2-3 drops of this directly on to infected nail and massage gently

Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli essential oil is extracted from dried leaves and dried flowering herb and has a sweet earthy aroma. Patchouli is a bushy herb in the mint family.

The oil is bactericidal, fungicide. [37] It is an antidote for poisonous snake bites.

It heals skin problems and allergies. The oil has Patchouli alcohol as the major active ingredient. [38]

Best way to use: Apply the oil on skin infection or in baths.

Blend: Tea tree oil (10 drops), Eucalyptus Radiata oil (5 drops), Patchouli oil (5 drops), Tagetes oil (10 drops). Dilute it in 30 ml of vegetable oil.

Apply this on the infected nail bed 3 times a day. Massage in well.

Myrrh Essential Oil

Myrrh essential oil is sourced from the resin of small trees having aromatic leaves. The oil is warm and has a spicy medicinal scent.

The oil is a potent disinfectant and antiseptic reducing infection. It is excellent for healing wounds and skin problems.

This oil’s fungicidal properties are good for athlete’s foot as well. [39]

Best way to use: It can be used in bath blends and in topical applications.

Blend: Clove bud (30 drops), Myrrh (30 drops), Lemon (20 drops), Thyme (10 drops), Lavender (10 drops), and ¼ cup (130 g) Epsom or sea salt.

Foot Bath: Keep it for 8 hours; now add 10-15 drops of the above blend in 130g sea salt.

Fill your foot bath with hot water (37-38 Celsius), add the blend mixture salt, and Soak your foot for 15-20 minutes or until the water cool down.

Dry your feet with a clean hand towel. Keep your feet dry and open in the air as much as possible.

Juniper (berry) Essential Oil

The essential oil is steam distilled from berries of an evergreen shrub with small flowers. The oil has a woody, sweet-smelling fresh aroma.

The oil has bornyl acetate and terpinyl acetate and thus having antifungal action. It purifies the air. The oil is useful for skin conditions which as slow to heal.

The oil is contraindicated to use orally in kidney disease and cautious use in pregnancy.

Best way to use: Administered topically and in bath blends.

Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil is cold expressed from fresh peels of the lemon. The aroma is light, fresh, and citrus. The oil has a green-yellow tinge which turns brown with age

The oil increases the production of white blood cells and valued to treat external wounds and infection.

The oil can be used to treat fungal infections. [40] [41]

The oil can cause photosensitivity skin irritation.

Best way to use: The oil is administered as diffuser scent, topical massage, and bath oils.

Cinnamon Essential Oil

Cinnamon oil has a warm spicy clove-like smell. It is steam distilled for extraction from leaves of the plant.

The oil has antifungal properties. [42] [43] [44]

The cinnamon bark oil constitutes Cinnamaldehyde that exerts antifungal effects. [45] Pregnant women and young children should avoid its use.

Best way to use: Used as a diffuser

Thyme Essential Oil

Thyme essential oil is steam distilled from fresh or partially dried leaves and flowering tops of a perennial shrub. It is highly aromatic and has a warm spicy or sweet and fresh aroma.

It has powerful antifungal [46], antibacterial [47], and antiseptic properties thus not only fighting off fungal infection but inhibiting it from growing further.

It has these properties due to the presence of thymol. [48]

The oil is also rich in linalyl acetate, alpha-terpineol acetate, and geranyl acetate producing antifungal, anti-inflammatory effects.

The oil is contraindicated to use in any form in pregnant women.

Best way to use: it can be used as a diffuser, in baths or topical massage.

Precaution While Using Essential Oils

Always dilute essential oils in carrier or vegetable oil, aloe vera gel before use.

Avoid using them near eyes, genitals and mucous membranes as they become irritated.

Essential oils are not recommended for children under the age of 5 and pregnant women especially for the first trimester as an essential oil can lead to abortions due to the presence of ketones.

It is a must to perform a patch test on your skin to know of skin sensitivity or allergies.

Limit sun exposure after application as it for a few hours. Bergamot oil and citrus oils are known to increase skin pigmentation. Lemongrass oil causes skin irritation.

Final Words

Toenail fungus can be taxing for the person. It hampers daily activities and leads to immense pain and inability to walk.

The nails can go really bad in shape and can even come off.

Essential oils are really handy for this condition. They are fungicidal and anti-fungal thus treating as well as inhibiting fungal growth.

They suppress the pain and have active ingredients that take care of the infected too.

So if you are an avid swimmer or athlete, don’t worry about your toes anymore. Essential oils are here to take care of them!

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