If you have a black toenail, don’t panic. In most cases, it will simply grow out. However, in case of fungal infections or melanoma timely treatment is necessary.
If your black toenail won't grow out naturally, seek a doctor's help. Your doctor will examine your toenail, may poke a needle to drain the blood, prescribe a topical antifungal medication, or recommend a biopsy for microscopic examination.
Soak your toe in cold water for 20 minutes, dry your feet and then apply the anti-fungal ointment prescribed by your doctor. Once you are done, cover your toenail with a clean bandage. If your toenails begin to detach, you should file your nail to prevent further tearing.
Avoid treating it at home, this procedure requires sterile conditions and a doctor’s office. Treating it at home can aggravate the infection and increase the chances of spread. Black toenail due to an underlying ailment needs immediate attention and a doctor’s intervention or opinion.
Your doctor may prescribe oral antifungal medicines such as terbinafine or fluconazole to treat black toenails. However, these medicines come with few side effects such as dizziness, upset stomach to more alarming ones such as jaundice and other skin problems, hence must be taken only under medical supervision and after thorough evaluation of extent of involvement.
Therefore, people can try some home remedies to treat their toenails,
1. Tea Tree Oil
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, tea tree oil is a herbal medicine that has antiseptic and antifungal properties. Apply a small amount of oil on the infected area with a cotton swab daily.
Another effective home remedy is using apple cider vinegar. Vinegar has acetic acid proven to have antifungal properties. Diluted in water vinegar can be used as a foot soak. Soaking your feet in a vinegar foot soak daily can treat black toenail fungus. The ratio can be one part vinegar and two parts of water. If the infection is extreme then a heavy soak is required to reduce the infection.
3. Ozonized Oils
A study in 2011, reveals that low concentration and short exposure to ozonated oils inactivate bacteria and fungi. Ozonated oils are sunflower oil or olive oil injected with ozone gas. Research suggests that ozone injected sunflower oil has been effective in treating black toenails.
4. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil contains thymol which has anti-bacterial and antifungal properties. Applying oregano oil twice has shown a reduction in black toenail fungus. A combination of oregano oil and tea tree oil is also an effective home remedy to treat fungal infections.
Garlic has potent anti-microbial properties. It can be chopped and applied to the infected toenail for half an hour. Garlic can also be taken as a supplement. However, people with ulcers, stomach infections, or bleeding disorders must consult their doctor before taking these supplements.
6. Changes in diet
Your diet may be contributing to fungal growth. Reducing excess sugar and carbohydrates from your diet, avoiding alcohol, and incorporating probiotics, garlic, and ginger into your diet can help reduce the infection.
When to see a doctor?
You must see a doctor when you see some abnormalities in your toenail such as redness, white or black lines, swelling, pain, pus discharge, etc. You can try a few home remedies however if you don’t see any significant change then you must consult your doctor.