Toenail fungus, known as onychomycosis in medical terms, is an infection under the toenail caused by fungi. Though it is common among older people, anyone can get a toenail fungus infection especially after walking barefoot in a public changing room, swimming pool area, showers or other warm damp places in which fungi thrive. Toenail fungus can also be caused by other factors such as wearing damp socks or shoes, getting a toenail injury and even immune deficiency.
Darker/discolored, brittle, painful and foul smelling nails are some of the symptoms of toenail fungus. There are many effective commercial treatments out there to cure toenail fungus but if you are looking for a safer natural alternative, then oregano essential oil is the best remedy you’ll ever use!
Oregano essential oil is extracted from the succulent leaves of the oregano plant (scientific name: Origanum vulgare) by steam distillation. It is pale yellow in color and has a potent spicy and camphor-like aroma. This amazing essential oil is a powerful antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant , antiviral and antibacterial. It’s used to treat a myriad of health conditions including colds, sinus infections and other respiratory ailments, parasites, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, fungus infections and so many more!
Key Ingredients in Oregano Essential Oil
Oregano essential oil contains more than 70% of phenols, which are powerful antiseptic compounds. Some of the phenols found in oregano essential oil include thymol, also found in thyme essential oil and carvacol, a most effective anti-fungal ingredient. Below are the key ingredients found in oregano essential oil and how they help fight toenail fungus:
- Carvacrol – This is the active ingredient in oregano essential oil. It is a potent anti-fungal & antibacterial that fights of a number of harmful fungi and bacteria including candida albicans, the aspergillus mold, giardia, listeria, salmonella, E.coli and staphylococcus, among others.
- Thymol – Thymol is another strong fungicide that is also present in other essential oils such as thyme essential oil. It has powerful antifungal and antiseptic properties that fights off toenail fungus, speeds up healing and prevents tissue damage.
- Naringin – This component not only strengthens the immune system but also inhibits growth of cancer cells.
- Rosmarinic Acid – Also found in rosemary essential oil, rosmarinic acid is a polyphenol that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Studies Showing How Effective Oregano Essential Oil is in Treating Fungus
Here are some studies showing the effectiveness of oregano essential oil in treating and curing toenail fungus:
→ The anti-fungal activity of numerous essential oils including oregano, thyme and sage essential oils was compared at the Department of Plant Physiology in Belgrade. Out of all the oils tested against 13 different species of fungi, oregano essential oil was seen to show the highest and broadest fungal activity. (1)
→ The Department of Pharmacology at the University of Athens discovered that carvacrol was not only effective against six gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria but also three types of pathogenic fungi. (2)
→ A study conducted at the Department of Horticulture and National Food Safety and Toxicology center at Michigan State University found that carvacrol, the active ingredient in oregano essential oil, has potent anti-fungal properties. (3)
How to Use Oregano Essential Oil for Toenail Fungus
Want to know exactly how to use oregano essential oil for toenail fungus? Check out the application tips and DIY recipes below!
» Direct Application: Clean the infected toenail with warm water and a mild soap. Dry thoroughly. Place 3 to 4 drops of oregano essential oil to a cotton ball and tape it to the infected toenail. Leave it to soak for at least 30 minutes.
» Nourishing Nail Oil: Fill a small amber glass dropper bottle ½ way through with jojoba oil. Add 5 to 7 drops of oregano essential oil. Shake well to mix. Using the dropper, place two drops of the nail oil on the infected nail and massage it in for a minute using your clean index finger.
» Anti-Fungal Foot Soak: Fetch a medium sized basin/tub and fill it with hot water (as hot as you can handle), add 4 tbsp of dead sea salt, ½ a lemon squeezed and 3 to 5 drops of oregano essential oil. Stir and soak your feet in for about 20 minutes.
» Moisturizing Nail Cream: Using a double boiler, soften an ounce or two of pure shea butter. Once soft, add 5 to 10 drops of oregano essential oil and 1 tsp of coconut oil. Mix well with a spatula. Store in a clean container. Apply to the infected toe every after a shower and in the morning and at night.
Tips to Get Rid of Toenail Fungus
While using oregano essential oil for toenail fungus, here are some handy tips as well to speed up the healing process, get rid of the toenail fungus once and for all and prevent any more in the future! Note: Fungi thrive in damp and warm conditions so it’s best to avoid exposing your feet to such conditions.
- Never walk barefoot in public places such as changing/locker rooms, swimming pool areas, showers, washrooms, the gym, and other damp places. Wear flip flops or shower shoes.
- Change socks or shoes more than once a day especially if they get wet and sweaty.
- Avoid wearing shoes especially tight ones. Leave your feet and toes to breathe to speed up recovery. Wear 100% cotton socks or synthetic ones that keep the feet dry.
- After a bath or shower, completely dry your feet and toes before putting shoes/socks.
- When filing or clipping your infected nail, don’t use the same file/nail cutter on the uninfected nails. This may risk the spread of the fungus to the other nails.
- Put on open shoes or sandals and allow your feet to get some fresh air.
- Expose your feet to the sun. Sunlight can speed up the healing process of the toe and kill off the fungus.
Where to Get Oregano Essential Oil & Safety
Please ensure to be careful with oregano essential oil as it is very potent and can burn your skin, being a ‘hot’ oil. You can apply it directly without dilution on the affected nail but do not use undiluted on any part of your body. Use the rule: 1-3 drops of essential oil in 1 tbsp of carrier oil/base ingredient. Don’t know where to get oregano essential oil? Here’s a good 100% pure high quality oil from Now Foods.
(1) Antifungal activities of selected aromatic plants growing wild in Greece. Oil oregano toenail fungus study. Sokovic M, Tzakou O, Pitarokili D, Couladis M. Department of Plant Physiology, Institute for Biological Research, Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Nahrung. 2002 Oct;46(5):317-20
(2) Composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oils of two Origanum species. Aligiannis N, Kalpoutzakis E, Mitaku S, Chinou IB. Department of Pharmacognosy, School of Pharmacy, University of Athens, University Campus of Zografou, Athens 15771, Greece. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2001 Sep;49(9):4168-70.
(3) In vitro antagonistic activity of monoterpenes and their mixtures against ‘toe nail fungus’ pathogens. Department of Horticulture and National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA. Ramsewak RS, Nair MG, Stommel M, Selanders L. Phytotherapy Research. 2003 Apr;17(4):376-9.