Updated: May 29
If you've found your way to this blog, it's safe to say you likely are struggling to find a way to get rid of the unsightly monster known as nail fungus. Though it's probably not the crowd you hoped to fall in with, you are not alone. According to the CDC, up to 14% of the general population suffers from this condition. Known as onychomycosis, nail fungus is difficult to treat, and often times comes back even after you've gotten rid of it. There are many articles and blogs pertaining to nail fungus, and ways to treat it either medically or naturally. If you're looking to go the natural route, there is a lot of contradictory and outright untrue information on the web, making it a challenge to put together a treatment plan that works for you. If you've read article after article and tried all the vinegar, mouthwash and alcohol soaks to no avail, read on and see if essential oils might be what you're looking for to finally eradicate your nail fungus.
What is nail fungus?
Chances are by the time you've made it to this blog you already know what nail fungus is, but here's a brief overview. Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, is an infection of the nail caused by exposure to fungal organisms, mold, yeast, or bacteria. The infection finds its way underneath the nail, where it sets up shop in an area that is not easy to get to, and therefore hard to treat.
Once the fungus has infected the nail, you will see visible signs, typically a small white or slightly yellow spot that appears on the nail. If not treated at this point, it can take over the entire nail, causing it to become thick and crumbly with a yellow or even brown discoloration. While typically it is just an aesthetic problem, it can become painful in some cases. Furthermore, because other nails are in close contact, it can easily spread to the rest of the nails on that foot or hand.
Do Essential Oils Have a Place in Treating Nail Fungus?
We think so! While there are many different approaches to dealing with nail fungus, essential oils are not without their merit. With that said, not all anti-fungal essential oils are created equal.
The biggest impediment to treating nail fungus naturally is that most natural products will not penetrate our thick, keratinous nails. This is why you can soak your nails in vinegar all day long and still not see results. Even the highly touted tea tree oil is not strong enough to penetrate the nails and get to the fungus itself. Because of this, many people believe that natural solutions will not work against nail fungus. Luckily, there are anti-fungal essential oils that can get to the problem and fight the fungus.
Not everyone is looking for a simply natural solution to nail fungus, and that is fine! There is certainly a place for medicine as well when trying to treat your nails. Most doctors will offer topical and oral medications and in rare cases even removal of toenails to treat the nail bed. If you are using oral medication and treating it from the inside, a topical essential oil blend can also be beneficial in conjunction with your Rx!
What is Birch Sisters Nail Rescue?
As a naturopath, I am always looking to make products that work synergistically and effectively to accomplish the intended goal. So, when it came time to make a product for nail fungus, we put hours of research in to find the perfect oils and essential oils to get the job done. Safety is also a consideration when using heavy-duty essential oils, and our formulation follows IFRA guidelines to ensure it is safe to use while also containing proper amounts of essential oil to be productive. Below you will find the individual ingredients, why they were selected, and the benefits they offer in creating healthy, beautiful nails.
Capric/Caprylic Triglycerides, also known as CCT, is a liquid derivative of coconuts and sometimes palm (Birch Sisters proudly uses only sustainably sourced coconut derived CCT!). This ingredient, while not selected for its anti-fungal properties, is a powerhouse all its own. This fast-absorbing oil increases ease of application and provides a protective layer over the nail to allow the oils to stay once they're applied. More than this, CCT is used as a dispersing agent, keeping the active ingredients from separating and settling to ensure that each application is packed full of each ingredient. Finally, and perhaps most impressively, CCT is said to enhance the absorption and deliver of active ingredients for better results!
Derived from the Neem tree, this oil is renowned for its medicinal properties. It is commonly used to treat skin ailments such as dandruff, psoriasis, acne and eczema. Chances are you have seen it recommended for direct use on infected nails, and this is because it works! The thick, paste like consistency makes direct application a challenge, so mixing it with the other ingredients allows for ease of application. The properties that make Neem oil so effective include anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial.
This fast-absorbing oil is another incredible healer. It is most commonly known as a wound healer, used to treat ailments such as athlete's foot and eczema. Tamanu Oil is said to have pain relieving properties which is beneficial for the cases of nail fungus that become painful. With properties like anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory this extraordinary ingredient not only works on the root problem, but also hydrates the nail and skin around it.
Essential Oil Blend
Our essential oil blend is comprised of powerful fungus fighting oils of thyme, cinnamon bark, clove, and oregano. This synergistic blend is strong enough to penetrate the nail and get to the source of the problem while still being in a proper solution to keep it at a safe level. This combination of oils is anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-bacterial.
Additional Tips for Dealing with Nail Fungus
Here at Birch Sisters, we believe that true healing takes place when you work both inside and out. Dealing with nail fungus is no different. Several people, all exposed to the same fungus will not necessarily all suffer from a nail infection. Nail fungus takes hold in an environment that supports its proliferation. This starts with the gut microbiome. Several things can cause your microbiome to not be at its best, including a poor diet, heavy metal toxicity, mold exposure and certain medications such as antibiotics and the birth control pill. This should always be addressed in conjunction with topical solutions to nail fungus. We recommend finding a great naturopath in your area to help you find a health plan to tackle your nail fungus from both sides. If you'd like more information on this topic, check out this blog!
Though it likely goes without saying, I'd be remiss to not mention proper sanitation. Nail fungus is very easily spread, and staying on top of sanitizing can be a job in itself. I recommend using separate nail clippers/files on fungal nails and healthy ones. Even so, it is a good idea to soak used nail tools in alcohol to disinfect between uses to kill the fungus that might stay on the surface. Finally, caring for your nails regularly can keep them from getting out of control. Regularly soaking your feet (or hands) in warm water can soften the nails enough to work on them. Keeping them trimmed and removing any flaking parts of the nails will keep them from getting worse, and also allows them to better absorb any topical products you do apply.
*While special care is always taken to ensure safe use of essential oils, everyone has different levels of sensitivity. Please use caution and spot test product before use.