Doctors typically prescribe powerful — and expensive — antifungal pills to treat nail and toenail infections. However, these treatments are not always effective, and many minor infections will respond just as well to a few hygienic and lifestyle changes. Although you should always consult your doctor to determine the cause of an infection, especially if it is a new condition, you can try one or a few of these natural remedies to speed recovery.
Add echinacea to your diet or vitamin regimen. The herb helps your body fight microbial infections, including fungal ones. Echinacea supplements are available in tinctures or pills.
When cleaning with household products or washing dishes, be sure to wear gloves. If you don't use disposable gloves, be sure to turn your gloves inside out and clean them at least once weekly.
In general, avoid using hot water on the infected area — it's harsh on the nails and can even irritate the infection.
Add more garlic to your diet, which can also help to fight off the infection. Raw garlic is more potent than cooked garlic — chop up a clove and add it to pesto, salsa or another condiment.
Use a cotton swab to apply witch hazel extract to the infected area or nails once daily. You can do this every night before bed so it can soak in.
Soak the affected area in a tea tree oil bath for 10 minutes. To make a foot bath, add about 10 drops of tea tree oil to a quart of lukewarm water. To soak your hand, cut the amounts in half. Dry the area thoroughly after soaking.
Alternatively, simply swab the affected area with undiluted tea tree oil two or three times daily.
Keep the affected area clean and dry and try to expose the nails to sunlight as much as possible. Fungi thrive in moist, dark places.