Ewww, do you? Really? Just kidding, and I know, it’s a bit of an icky subject, but fungal toenail infection (onychomycosis or tinea unguium) is a really common problem, and if left to fester and fungalise ( yes that’s a made up word) can cause serious health problems.
Unknowingly we come into contact with foot fungus all the time, at the pool, gyms, our local dance/karate/pilates studios, (did you notice I didn’t add yoga studio, but yes, there too) beauty salons, the towels in our own house if someone who lives with you has this condition.
Are you grossed out yet? Never wearing bare feet again? We do come into contact with bugs, fungi and infections of all shapes, sizes and strains all the time, but we don’t all get everything. A toenail infection, like all dis-eases in the body can have contributing factors apart from the fungus itself, poor circulation, immune system deficiencies and stress can all leave the body vulnerable.
Fungus loves dark, moist conditions, so it’s important to air your feet, get your shoes and socks off as often as you can, to keep your feet sweet and neat. Regular cleaning of the feet is super important too. Our poor old feet are right at the bottom of our bodies, and we can easily just give them a cursory once over in the shower. Instead, take notice of your beautiful feet, clean in-between all your toes, give your toenails a scrub with a nail brush, and be sure to keep your toenails clean too. A professional pedicure every once in a while does wonders for your foot health too, and please go to a good beauty therapy clinic, not the cheapies in the malls.
I know us girls love the cute/sexy/hot high heel shoes, but one of the best things you can do for your feet is to keep those pointy sky highs for special occasions only. I can see the crosses coming out, as this advice is anathema to shoe lovers, but the best shoes for our lovely feet, are box toe shoes with lots of room for toes to spread out in their natural formation, or, horror of all horrors, no shoes at all.
Toenail fungus can seem like just an unsightly annoyance, but it can get serious, really serious. If left untreated it can cause your toenails to become misshapen which could cause pain, and even difficulty in walking, and it can cause your toenails to drop off, double ewww. It can spread into the surrounding tissue and cause athletes foot, and even worse can spread to the groin causing jock itch! Triple ewww. Both men and women can get jock itch, so your not off the hook girls. Most importantly though, if your skin is cracked and raw around your toenails, bacteria can enter the body and cause cellulitis, a bacterial infection of the skin, it’s not nice and can get super serious.
If one part of the body is out of balance, the whole body is out of balance, and foot health is a big part of our overall well-being. Vibrant health is what we are looking for and we can have it, sometimes we just need a few tweaks to help us get there.
In reflexology, and in many complementary medicine modalities, your toenails are considered to be real reflection of your internal health, so if your toenails are looking different to normal, you can be assured something else is up too. It’s a great idea to get your nails checked by a Naturopath every now and again, as the nails can show up mineral and vitamin deficiencies in the body as well as issues with the organs. It’s an art and a science, they look at the ridges on the toes, vertical and horizontal, spots, areas of thickening and discoloration. There’s lots of charts on the internet I know, but getting a professional opinion is always best.
Is your thinking a bit fuzzy? Tired, out of sorts? In the tops of the all the toes, and the big toe in particular are the reflex areas for the brain. That our big toe is the one most often affected by fungus is no surprise to me. How much stress, anxiety and tiredness have you got going on in your world right now?
Give your toe pads a good rub every day to keep your brain tickety boo, especially your big toes, and a handy hint, if you can’t remember something, you know, when it’s on the tip of your tongue, but the ol brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. Rub your thumb pads, all the reflex points in your feet are also in your hands. Oh, and sniff rosemary, it stimulates the brain, and boosts memory. Great for when you are studying, before exams, and great when you are feeling a bit tired, like that afternoon tired, ditch the coffee and pick a sprig of rosemary for your desk.
The big toe holds the reflex points for the pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus glands, so it’s also a really important area of the foot in regards to hormonal balance.
It also reflects our relationship with spirit, with something greater than ourselves. It is the self expression toe, connected to unity, oneness and the ego. It holds the throat, third eye and crown chakras. Are we speaking our truth, saying what we really need to be saying? Are we seeing things clearly, as they really are, or do we look at life through rose or grey tinted glasses, only seeing what we want to see? Are we connected to our higher selves, and walking our true path? All food for thought.
Right, the bit you’ve been waiting for, treatments. There are lots of over the counter treatments you can buy, liquids that you brush onto the nails, and I have heard from a few people (with very early signs of fungal infection) that these can work. There are also oral anti-fungal treatments, but these do not come without risk, the liver can be adversely affected by these drugs, and my understanding is they are pretty (excuse the pun) hard to take.
Natural Treatments: Oregano Oil is a powerful anti fungicide, and there is great reading on this for you here, always use high quality essential oils, and always consult an aromatherapist or naturopath before using essential oils, they are strong and just like pharmaceuticals can have side effects and not all herbs are safe for all people.
Cider Vinegar & Baking Soda – Mix together 1 cup Cider Vinegar and I cup Water, soak your tootsies for about 15 minutes once daily. Be sure to dry well after the treatment. Then make a paste of baking soda and water and immerse your toenails in the paste for about 10 minutes, clean off with water and again pat dry as dry can be.
Tea Tree Oil – used in the same way as Oregano oil, but I have heard Oregano oil is much better for fungal conditions.
There are loads of other home remedies, listerine, beer baths, white vinegar, and probably a few more. Go forth and google. Just remember natural remedies require us to keep up the work of the process, we can’t just do it once or for a few days and hope for the miracle cure.
I hope this information is of help to you, if you have a fungal toenail infection, see your GP or podiatrist, as left untreated toenail fungus can be serious. And whatever you do, look after your feet, you’ve only got one pair, and really, our feet, there all kinds of neat. I love em, and I hope you love yours too.
PS Yoga is great for your feet too, It doesn’t get rid of fungal nails, but it does keep feet strong and supple, and of course Reflexology to clear energetic blockages in the body, release toxins and keep the lymphatic system flowing. You can still have reflexology if you have a fungal infection, we just work around the area. Many people feel embarrassed of their feet, and I am here to tell you, there is no need.