Witch hazel is often the go-to natural ingredient for natural beauty and skincare treatment. Also, witch hazel is often used to take off nail polish. Nonetheless, many people don’t understand precisely what witch hazel is. That said, witch hazel remains a multi-use plant that has remained relevant. With such widespread use comes the question; does witch hazel cure nail fungus?
The answer is yes; aside from using witch hazel in nail beautification as a thinner, it can also be used to treat nail fungus infections.
Fungal infection of the nail can result from several conditions and, if left untreated, can become complicated. Usually, treating nail infections can be done with antifungal medications prescribed by a doctor. But today, searching for homemade cures has led to various methods to treat this infection. While some work effectively, many don’t, but you can be sure of curing your nail infection with witch hazel.
What Is Witch Hazel?
Witch hazel or Hamamelis Virginiana is an essential oil extract from a shrub native to Canada and the United States. This extract gets its popularity from skincare applications. When treating acne-prone skin, applying witch hazel as a toning solution is your go-to answer. It helps in the contraction and tightening of the skin and pores; hence, it is referred to as an astringent.
As I mentioned earlier, the process for creating witch hazel often differs. But a general approach is to first extract the liquid from the plant’s bark, twigs, and leaves. The removed content is now distilled with purified water, and the production process is complete.
This rudimentary approach does not consider other production processes for over-the-counter witch hazel. Many of these have added other natural products to help reduce their stripping properties.
Aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar had this to say about this extract- “Witch hazel is a plant widely known for its astringent, anti-inflammatory, and cleansing properties. However, it’s most popularly used in a liquid form, such as a toner. And no, it has nothing to do with spells or magic!”
What is Nail Fungus Infection?
Nail fungus infection is very common and is known in medical terms as onychomycosis. This condition usually starts with a somewhat harmless discoloration spot (usually a white or yellow spot) just beneath the tip of the fingernail or toenail. With time, this infection grows and moves deeper, causing further discoloration, thickening, and crumbling of the nails at the edge.
If not taken care of, the infection can spread to other nails, and at first, it can be mild without causing pain or discomfort. However, should your nail infection become painful, it might be time for you to start considering self-care steps and orthodox medications.
A drawback of nail fungus infection is that even after successfully treating an infection, chances are it might come back in the future. This makes treating nail fungus an unusually long procedure.
How To Use Witch Hazel to Cure Nail Fungus
For most natural medicine enthusiasts, using witch hazel to treat nail fungus comes easily. Before now, the witch hazel plant has been used to treat several medical conditions, especially easing inflammation symptoms and soothing sensitive skin.
However, its widespread health benefits make it the go-to remedy for treating nearly all forms of nail infection, nail fungus inclusive.
Thankfully, there is no way to use witch hazel to treat nail fungus infection. While the natural extract can cure your infection, many have found that adding other natural extracts creates a powerful infection-killing solution.
Many homemade formulae have, in addition to witch hazel, tea tree oil, oregano oil, lavender oil, clove oil, etc. Nevertheless, ensure to apply a generous quantity of witch hazel to the infected nail for a long time to ensure that reinfection does not occur.
Does All Witch Hazel Have Alcohol?
A common extraction process for many witch hazel products is using alcohol as distillers, yet several products are alcohol-free. One popular misconception about the witch hazel plant is naturally occurring alcohol. This is essentially false, as its astringent properties come from the presence of tannins.
Curing Nail Fungus Without Witch Hazel
You can opt for orthodox medications if you do not use natural extracts. This will get the job done as well. But with medications, it’s advisable to always seek a qualified medical practitioner’s opinion before commencing the use of any drugs. Below are some types of drugs your doctor can prescribe for you:
1. Oral Antifungal Drugs
In many cases, this will be the option your doctor will advise as a course of treatment. Medications such as terbinafine (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox) can quickly eliminate the infection. Options include. They work by aiding the growth of new nails free of infection. You will be required to take these medications for 6 to 12 weeks; results won’t appear until the complete growth of a new nail.
2. Medicated Nail Polish
Asides from oral drugs, your doctor can prescribe an antifungal nail polish to help eliminate the infection. All you have to do is paint it on the infected nails and their surrounding skin once a day. After a period of seven days, you have to wipe the piled-on layers off using alcohol and apply fresh paint. Using medicated nail polish can slow treating nail fungus infection and requires a daily application for nearly a year.
3. Medicated Nail Cream
An alternative to medicated nail polish is for you to use an antifungal cream. Usually, you have to rub the cream into your infected nails after soaking. A hack to getting optimal results with this cream is first to thin the infected nail. This ensures that the cream gets through the hard nail surface easily and reaches the underlying fungus.
Causes of Nail Fungus Infection
Various fungal organisms can cause nail fungus infections, the most common being dermatophyte fungi. Others known to cause infections in nails include yeast, molds, etc. the hardest part about nail fungus infection is that there is no one way of contracting it. Below are just a few ways of getting infected:
- Age: as you grow older, so do your nails, so naturally, older people are more susceptible to nail fungus infection. This is because as the nail ages, brittleness and dryness set in, leaving room for cracks in the nails which allows infestation by fungi. Reduced blood circulation to the feet and a weakened immune system may also qualify for infestation.
- Wearing tight-fitting and poorly ventilated shoes which can lead to the trapping of moisture (sweat).
- Use of poorly maintained swimming pool and unhygienic bathroom
- Direct contact with anyone carrying the infection. While this has been disputed, sharing footwear such as shoes and socks with others increases your chances of infection.
- Walking in flood or stagnant water is one way of getting fungus infections.
Preventing Nail Fungus Infection
Nail fungus infections are not contagious, but they can be contacted. To prevent this, it is necessary to take preventive measures. In the case that you just treated a nail infection, you can also use these tips to ensure that reinfection does not occur:
- Wash your hands and feet regularly, especially after touching an infected nail. Also, ensure to moisturize your nails after washing to prevent dryness.
- Disinfect nail clippers immediately after each use.
- Trim nails to moderate lengths and always smoothen out the edges with a file. Also, it’s good to file down any thick nail area.
- Wear sweat-absorbing socks.
- Buy shoes made of materials that allow for the flow of air.
- After wearing shoes, treat them with disinfectants such as antifungal powders.
- Never wade through stagnant or floodwaters.
- When in a saloon, always demand that each manicure and pedicure tool be sterilized before being used on you.
Does Witch Hazel Cause Skin Irritation?
The witch hazel plant contains eugenol, a potential skin irritant and allergen. And depending on the process of extracting your witch hazel, the eugenol component can be reduced effectively.
Again the human skin reacts differently to chemical and natural extracts. If you have sensitive skin, it’s advisable to always test on a small area of skin before applying generously.
While we love taking good care of our nails to appear confident and radiant, nail fungus infection can dent this. Thankfully, witch hazel can be used to deal with nail infections as they occur. The process of treatment with witch hazel is simple.
Aside from treating your nails, this natural plant extract is versatile for other home uses. A solvent is a favorable tool in achieving many DIY home activities.
If you don’t want to use natural herbal methods, there are also medical means of treating nail fungus infections. The bottom line is to keep your nails healthy, and you wouldn’t need to worry about fungus infection.