Given the severe side effects associated with some oral medications prescribed for the treatment of nail fungus infections (e.g Diflucan and Sporonox), many sufferers choose natural topical treatments instead. Some of the most popular nail fungus treatments such as ZetaClear and Funginix contain tea tree oil among other active ingredients.
It is thought that the term “tea tree” was coined by Captain Cook when he first arrived in Australia in the 17oos. He saw that Aboriginals were crushing the leaves of a type of Myrtle – the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree – and applying them to the skin to relieve insect bites, burns and abrasions and he decided to make a tea from the leaves. He gave this “tea tree” to his crew as protection from scurvy. In more recent times the leaves are steamed to form an essential oil as the distillate. It is also used to help get rid of zits.
While tea tree oil is not thought to be effective against scurvy, it does contain wide ranging antimicrobial and antifungal properties. The trick when treating nail fungus infections is to ensure that the tea tree oil comes into direct contact with the fungus in the nail. If the fungal infection has resulted in thickening of the nail, scratch these extra layers away before applying the oil to the nails and surrounding skin. If the tea tree oil is not effectively soaking into the nail, try mixing it with a thinner oil such as sunflower oil. Daily applications are recommended over the course of many months while a healthy fungus-free nail is growing out. Sticking to this regular treatment routine is key to treatment success.There is more information on tea tree oil and nail fungus over at FungusFacts.com
Athlete’s foot is caused by the same fungus that is behind nail fungus infections. Dab tea tree oil (in diluted form if you have sensitivity) to affected skin until the fungal infection has cleared up. Far better to get rid of the fungus while it is still in the skin than after it has reached the nails. While tea tree oil has not been linked to severe side effects (only minor skin rashes and irritations) when applied externally, it can be toxic if taken by mouth.
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