Q. When I needed treatment for toenail fungus, my doctor suggested I soak my toes in Listerine for 30 minutes a night for thirty days. I sent my husband to Costco for a giant jug of Listerine. He returned with the minty one.

It’s blue, but I figured that wouldn’t really make a difference. It did. My feet turned blue and no amount of scrubbing could take the color off. My husband laughed until he cried.

After switching to the regular (amber) Listerine, my toenail fungus did clear up, but the nails themselves were very dry.

A. The herbal oils in Listerine, such as thymol and eucalyptol, have antifungal activity. Many readers have found that it can help fight nail fungus. The alcohol in regular Listerine (26.9 percent) might be the culprit in drying your nails.

Join Over 54,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. MD
    Reply

    I tried Vicks VapoRub for toe nail fungus and developed a rash around the toenails. The same thing happened with the Tea Tree Oil that my doctor suggested I try. When I tried the Listerine my feet were very cold after soaking them for 15 minutes or more. Could there be something in the Vicks VapoRub and Tea Tree Oil that I am allergic to? What do you suggest I try? Someone mentioned cornmeal.
    People’s Pharmacy response: Perhaps you are allergic to eucalyptol or menthol. Here are some other ideas:
    http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2011/10/20/pedicure-led-to-nasty-nail-fungus/

  2. DK
    Reply

    The first time I got a toenail fungus, I soaked my feet in Listerine for 15 minutes a night for a month, which worked OK. A year later, I got toenail fungus again. This time, I applied Tea Tree Oil generously under and on the nail every night for a month. It works really well without the time commitment of Listerine.

  3. Judith Phoenix
    Reply

    I use a spray bottle for my listerine. It helps, but my nails are dry. I would like to know what to use to help counteract the dryness. Also I am about to start acupunture for my cracked finger nails and toenail fungus. He will do this by treating my liver. So far nothing else has really helped either one.

  4. Robin Thomas
    Reply

    I am currently using a variation of this treatment with good results. The RN foot care specialist who suggested it did warn about using only the regular amber Listerine, as she’d had patients whose feet were stained by the minty blue variety. Per her directions, I use a Q tip or a cotton swab to apply the Listerine to the affected toenails, and just let them air dry. After 8 months there is considerable improvement and the nails don’t seem overly dry. This method avoids the soaking, but also takes much longer–the RN recommended doing it for 12 months.

  5. s. teem
    Reply

    How long would you suggest soaking the feet in listerine, and how often?

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.