Q. I ignored my nail fungus for years but finally my wife started complaining about how gross the nails are. Last fall I started soaking my feet in a dilute vinegar solution for half an hour and then applying tea tree oil directly to the nails. It has taken several months, but the nails are nearly back to normal. What is tea tree oil and why is it so effective?
A. Tea tree oil comes from an Australian tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). It has been shown to have antifungal properties. Tea tree oil is active against the fungi that cause nail fungus (Mycopathologia, online, Feb. 8, 2013).
Some people report that this herbal oil is also effective against bacterial and viral infections.
Dermatologists have found that a combination of tea tree oil and iodine can be useful against molluscum contagiosum, a common childhood rash caused by a virus (Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, March, 2012).
The oil derived from tea trees can cause a rash in some people, so it should be tested first. Anyone who would like to know more about home remedies for nail fungus may be interested in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.