How does tea tree oil work against fungal nails?

Nail fungus, medically known as onychomycosis, is a common condition in which a fungal infection affects the nails. The nail is then infected with a fungus (usually a so-called trichophyton or candida fungus) or yeast.

2% to 14% of all adults will experience a fungal nail infection at some point. Sometimes people do not realize that they have fungal nails because the infection occurs gradually. The fungus feeds on the keratin (a protein) in the nail, the part of the nail that remains consists mainly of hard material, hence the name “fungal nails”. Fungi thrive in a moist environment and enter the nail bed through the outer edge of the nail.

The fungal nail infection can cause the nail to thicken and become painful when wearing shoes. Sometimes the fungal nail infection can even cause the nail to stop growing or can crumble or fall off completely.

More common with feet:

This infection can affect both the toenails and fingernails, but is more common in toenails. It often occurs because athlete's foot spreads to the toenails or due to contamination in a swimming pool or changing room. Mold is everywhere. They make mold spores; these are very small and spread easily. Athlete's foot is also called athlete's foot. There are also fungi that cause athlete's foot, but not nail fungus.

**How ​​do you get fungal nails?**
Fungal nails can easily be transmitted from person to person and are highly contagious. When you come into contact with the dander of someone with fungal nails, the fungal particles can spread quickly. The risk of contamination is especially high in wet and humid public areas where people often walk barefoot, such as in communal showers of sports clubs, swimming pools and saunas.

Especially in the elderly:

It is noteworthy that nail fungus mainly occurs in the elderly population. The risk of developing a fungal nail is approximately thirty times greater in the elderly than in children. A possible explanation for this is that nail growth slows down in the elderly, which gives fungi more opportunity to grow in the nail. People with reduced immune function, for example due to the use of medications such as prednisone or HIV infection, and people with diabetes are also more susceptible to getting fungal infections.

Toenails grow slowly:

Toenails grow a lot slower than fingernails: an average of 1.6 mm per month. A toenail takes twelve to eighteen months to fully grow, while a fingernail only takes 4-6 months. In a persistent case, the complete treatment of a fungal nail on a foot can take more than a year because the entire fungus must have grown out.

Fact: Nails grow faster in summer than in winter.

How do you recognize a fungal nail?

The nail discolors (yellow, brown or even green), deforms, becomes hard and crumbles. You will especially notice the difference when cutting the nails.

Fungal nails are characterized by several symptoms, including:
- Thickenings
- Discolorations
- Brittle, crumbly or frayed
- Deformed
- Loose from the nail bed
- Smelly

General tips that are good to pay attention to in case of fungal nails:

Wear clean socks every day, wash socks at at least 60° degrees (30° or 40° is an ideal breeding ground for mold). Make sure your shoes are well ventilated and preferably wear a different pair of shoes every day so that you can alternate.

Treating fungal nails with Tea Tree Oil:

There are various ways to treat fungal nails, including laser therapy or special lotions with antifungal properties. There are also antifungal medications available in tablets, such as itraconazole and terbinafine.

As a natural remedy, tea tree oil is extremely suitable due to its antiseptic and antifungal effect. Tea Tree oil penetrates into the nail and can be used undiluted.
- File the nail gently with a file and repeat this several times a week.
- Apply approximately 1 to 2 drops to the nail and check whether the entire nail has been in contact with the oil.
- Make sure that the cuticle is also treated, this is where the new nail comes from and it must be fungus-free.
- Continue to file your nail(s) occasionally so that the product penetrates the nail(s) properly.
-Are you going for a pedicure? Then ask them to grind the top of the nail so that the oil penetrates properly into the nail. The thinner the nail, the more effective the treatment.
- Pre-treating the nail with urea ointment or salicylic acid ointment speeds up the process. Both products soften the nail so that it becomes thinner.
- Simply apply some tea tree oil to the affected nail every morning and every evening directly from the pipette is the easiest. Preferably after showering so that the nail is still soft, dry the nail thoroughly before applying the oil.

Scientific / Sources

  • Study by Buck, Cox, Rees et al. (1994): In a clinical study published in the "Journal of Family Practice," tea tree oil was compared with clotrimazole, a conventional antifungal drug, for the treatment of onychomycosis. The study found that tea tree oil could produce similar results to clotrimazole, suggesting it could be an effective alternative.
  • Research by Hammer, Carson, and Riley (1998): Published in the "Journal of Applied Microbiology," this study examined the antifungal effects of tea tree oil in vitro. The study concluded that tea tree oil contains active components that are effective against several fungal species that cause onychomycosis.
  • Clinical Trial by Satchell, Saurajen, Bell et al. (2002): Conducted as a randomized, controlled trial and published in the "Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy", this study showed that a 2% tea tree oil cream was effective in reducing of the symptoms of nail fungus, although it was not as effective as conventional antifungal medications.
  • Study by Syed, Qureshi, Ahmad et al. (1999): This study, published in the "Tropical Medicine & International Health", found that a 100% tea tree oil solution applied to fungal nails for a four-week period resulted in a improvement in symptoms in about half of the participants.