December 8, 2022
February 21, 2021
How A Healthy Immune System And Circulation Counteract Toenail Fungus
*Disclaimer: The written article is based on a summary of existing literature on the topic of infrared saunas. The article is for educational purposes and the information provided below cannot be taken as a promise to help with acute health problems or diseases.
The claims in the article are backed by 19 scientific references. All references are numbered. You can access the text of the reference by clicking on the number.
You might think: "what do infrared saunas & toenail fungus have to do with each other?!"
The answer is that there's a scientific link between the two, and that in some individuals, infrared saunas may help you prevent or reverse toenail fungus. In order to arrive at that conclusion, I'll have to explore the science with you.
But, before I dig into the science, I'll explain what toenail fungus fundamentally is.
Here we go:
All right, let's start with a brief introduction to toenail fungus:
From a scientific standpoint, toenail fungus is also called "onychomycosis". The "onycho" part of the word stems from the Greek "related to the nail", and the "mycosis" part can be translated to "fungal in origin". Simply put, "onychomycosis" is a technical and complicated sounding name to denote simple toenail fungus.
In toenail fungus, fungi have successfully infected your toenails over a longer period of time (1; 2; 3). Common symptoms are losing your pearl-white nail colour and thickening of those same nails. Often, the shape of the nail also changes - aesthetically for the worse. The problems associated with toenail fungus aren't just aesthetical though: in severe cases, the fungus prevents normal walking and standing, gives you pain, and also affects the self-esteem of the person in question.
Right now, the best scientifically-backed treatment includes oral medications, topical medicine on the toenail, and treatment through several different medical devices. And while taking medicine orally works well, they are often paired with unwanted side effects. These devices include lasers and red light therapy - a topic I'll very briefly cover at the end of this blog post.
The main risk factors for getting the condition are ageing, obesity, swimming as a sport, pre-existing conditions such as previous cancer or existing psoriasis, and onychomycosis in the family (4; 5). Other risk factors are poor circulation - leading to peripheral health issues - and immune system disruptions. I'll focus on those last two factors as we can influence them both through using an infrared sauna:
You might not immediately understand the far infrared sauna nail fungus connection but I'll explore it in more detail below. My argument is as follows:
What conclusions can we draw from these facts?
Well, first of all, with a higher white blood cell count your immune system can simply do a better job more properly. Different white blood cells like "basophils" and "lymphocytes", all potentially perform better and/or increase in quantity. The "basophils" play a role in inflammation and allergic reactions, among others, and the lymphocytes contain T-cells, among others, which partake in countering both fungal infections and play a role in autoimmunity if dysregulated.
Put in plain and perhaps oversimplified English, your "immune system is boosted" through using a sauna...
Additionally, in the studies with participants who have an autoimmune condition, infrared sauna exposure improves their condition across the board. Pain, depression, anxiety, stiffness, mood, fatigue, all improve compared to the baseline.
You might think: "what do these results have to do with toenail fungus?"
That's a great question:
My hypothesis is that general health plays a major role in your risk for developing toenail fungus - and many other health conditions such as autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease, and so forth. Any treatment that reduces your overall risk for these conditions almost always also improves your general health.
Keep in mind that toenail fungus is associated with ageing, pre-existing conditions, and autoimmune conditions. I rarely see toenail fungus in young children and much more frequently in older populations.
Hence, infrared saunas supporting your overall health almost certainly lower your risk for toenail fungus. And, there's a second argument why infrared saunas can help you if you've got toenail fungus:
GET OUR FREE EBOOK
8 tips to get the most out of your Infrared Sauna
Discover proven ways to supercharge your infrared sauna experience.
Secondly, the concepts of infrared sauna and fungus are scientifically related through your blood circulation.
I've written extensively about the effects of infrared saunas and blood circulation in my blog post on the advantages and disadvantages of infrared saunas.
Both autoimmune conditions, as well as health problems with a peripheral component (such as due to diabetes), are associated with toenail fungus. Toenail fungus, in turn, is associated with poor circulation as well. That association isn't weird but expected: when fungus can grow uncontrolled in and on your toenail, your immune system doesn't work as well as it could in the distal parts of your body.
One potential solution?
Use saunas to increase circulation in the distal parts of your body, such as your skin, hands, ankles, and feet! Fortunately, several studies show promising results:
Bottom line? With improved circulation to the extremities of your body your immune system can almost certainly do a better job in those areas. And your toenails are the epitome of an "extremity" of your body!
Also, even though it's somewhat of a side-issue, I'll cover one more way in which I can potentially help you with toenail fungus:
Even though it's not my main goal of this article, there has been very promising emerging research showing a link between red light therapy treatments and reduction in toenail fungus (16; 17; 18; 19)
Specifically, non-heating light in the red and near-infrared range resulted in improvements in up to two-thirds of all cases over a 6-month period. A whopping 89% of study participants showed an increase in normally-coloured toenails as well. The caveat is the number of studies confirming these results are low, that sometimes lasers are used instead of LEDs, and more research is needed (19). However, current results are very promising.
And, because of these promising results from red light therapy, we also offer premium-grade in-home treatment red light therapy that can be used inside an infrared sauna.
Adding red light therapy on top of infrared saunas almost certainly improves the potential toenail fungus dramatically!
Hopefully, I've convinced you that both infrared saunas and red light therapy can affect a toenail fungus: Let's therefore conclude:
I hope I've given you some reasons to believe that both infrared saunas and red light therapy can help you counteract toenail fungus.
Of course, medical problems can be complicated and none of what I'm saying is medical advice. Many underlying reasons can exist why you have toenail fungus, such as pre-existing medical conditions.
However, if poor circulation and a suboptimally working immune system are causing issues with your toenails, then saunas might certainly help according to the latest science. And, if you want to get even quicker results, add some red light therapy to your routine and you should be doing even better!
Explore our add-ons to transform your Infrared Sauna into a complete wellness capsule. Tools to fine tune your body.
Our team are experts in infrared saunas, and always happy to answer your questions.
We’re available seven days a week, 9am - 5pm.
Please enter your contact information to find out more about our infrared saunas for your home. Please include your mobile number if you'd like to be contacted by one of our sauna experts.