It seems that human-kind is afflicted with a variety of minor ailments, pimples, warts, moles, sties, fever blisters, athlete’s foot and toenail fungus, to name a few. I seem to be destined to have them all at one time or another. I could be president of the trivial ailment of the month club.
This month’s featured ailment, for those who choose to participate, is toenail fungus.
I thought only mushrooms were fungus, but apparently there are many different kinds of them, some good, some bad and some that depend on opinion for a descriptive adjective.
Yeast is a fungus and useful for bread making or for fermenting wine and beer. Fungus is also what breaks down organic material and causes decay, replenishing the nutrients in the soil.
Mold is a fungus. It may spoil the food in the fridge or grow in the bathroom shower. Mole spores are allergens that can make us sick when we breathe them, but mold is also the source of penicillin that fights infectious disease.
Just as I thought, however, one of the most common funguses is indeed the mushroom, which like other funguses can also be good or bad. Mushrooms can be a source of food, but some varieties are deadly poisonous.
Mushrooms were thought to be magic in days of yore, and were associated with fairies and witches and toads. Science now knows that their “magic” probably came from the hallucinogenic properties of some varieties.
Anyhow, to get back to the subject at hand, or at foot in this case, I have a pesky toenail fungus on one of my toes. These funguses are especially difficult to treat because they lurk underneath the toenail and are hard to reach with medications.
I tried simply ignoring it and waiting until it cured itself. I covered my toenail with nail polish and went about my business until I discovered my nail had become thick, ugly, and difficult to trim. Fungus, unlike warts, does not tend to cure itself in time, only to become worse.
I had nightmares of mushrooms sprouting from the toes of my shoes and fairies visiting me to dance in circles around my feet. Clearly, it was time for something to be done about the nasty toenail fungus.
Actually, fungus can be treated by doctors with systematic fungicides, which are also said to sometimes cause liver damage. Since I really like having all of my internal organs functioning and don’t actually believe much in fairies or witches, I decided to try a home remedy.
Nearly all the minor ailments are so common that many folk remedies exist. In my case, the most common cure I could find was soaking the toe in vinegar or Listerine. Not too difficult until you realize it is for 20 minutes, twice a day for two months. I decided on the vinegar cure since I didn’t have any Listerine.
I can now be found nightly dangling my toes in a plastic container of vinegar while I’m at the computer. The vinegar is said to create an acid environment in which it is impossible for fungus to grow. I’m not sure if it is working or not, but I’m beginning to smell a whole lot like a pickle.
As far as I know, no one ever died of toenail fungus, unless it was from humiliation. But it is very resistant to remedies. Perhaps the toenail fungus has evolved like other diseases that eventually become immune to cures. Or, perhaps the vinegar treatment is just a folk tale and doesn’t actually work at all.
I have another idea. Maybe I should try Listerine.
Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss