Tea Tree Oil & Fungal Nails

Fungal nails are one of the most commonly diagnosed foot problems that podiatrists treat, and are especially prevalent in people between the ages of 40-60. The best way to start treating fungal nails is to visit with a podiatric physician who can take a culture of the nail and determine the cause which can be fungal, yeast or bacteria. Treatment for fungal nails may include topical or oral medications, and debridement (cutting and filing) of the infected nail. However, another option that may help fungal nail sufferers is an application of tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil is an extract from a plant native to Australia. Tea tree oil was used as a topical treatment by the Aboriginal people for centuries.

Why do people take tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil has been used traditionally as a topical antiseptic and antifungal treatment. One study found that tea tree oil worked as well as 5% benzoyl peroxide in controlling the symptoms of acne. It also appears to be effective with toenail fungus and possibly athlete’s foot. Studies of tea tree oil for other conditions such as gum disease, vaginal infections, and dandruff have been inconclusive.

How much tea tree oil should you take?

Tea tree oil is only a topical treatment it should never be taken by mouth.

Because tea tree oil is an unproven treatment, there is no established dose. The concentrations of tea tree oil used in studies have varied depending on the medical condition. For instance, a 5% tea tree oil gel might be used for acne, while a 10% or higher tea tree oil cream might be used for athlete’s foot. Dr. Weinert & Dr. Oz both recommend a 100% tea tree oil solution to be used with toenail fungus, applying it directly onto the site with a cotton swab. Dr. Weinert also recommends soaking your feet 2-3 times a week in Epsom salt (take one cup of Epsom salt and a gallon of luke warm water in a bucket) for 10-15 min., use a straight edge nail nipper and cut your nails straight across, wear flip flops in public showers, avoid pedicures, and wear shoes that fit well and are made of materials that can breathe.  Doing all of this greatly reduces the duration and risk of fungal nail infections.

What are the risks of taking tea tree oil?

·         Risks. Topical tea tree oil has been reported to cause allergic reactions that can be severe. Tea tree oil may also cause redness, itching, and blistering. It may aggravate burns and skin conditions like eczema. Using large quantities of tea tree oil on the skin could cause severe side effects.

·         For topical use only. Tea tree oil must never be used in the eyes or swallowed. Even in small amounts, swallowing tea tree oil could potentially cause severe reactions, including severe rash, nausea, confusion, and coma.

Given the lack of evidence about its safety, tea tree oil is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Follow basic foot care guidelines and, more than likely, you can head off most common foot fungus problems and keep your nails and skin looking their best. However, if you’ve already noticed a problem, contact Dr. Weinert to have it properly evaluated.  Dr. Weinert has two convenient locations in Troy at 248-362-3338 or his Warren office at 586-751-3338.  You can also get more information on his website at www.stopfeetpainfast.com, where you can also request a copy of hisFREE book Stop Feet Pain Fast.