If you click on the white arrow above you will hear an interesting story from Jane, a foot care nurse in Massachusetts. She travels the state taking care of patients with diabetes and other conditions that create all sorts of foot and nail problems. In this audio story she shares her experience with Vicks® VapoRub® for treating toenail fungus.

——–

We first heard from Jane many years ago. She alerted us to the possibility that Vicks VapoRub might be helpful against toenail fungus. Initially, we were skeptical. How could a chest rub that has been around for more than 100 years do anything for fungus-infected nails? Dermatologists and podiatrists had told us with great confidence that nothing really penetrates the nail to affect the fungus below.

Nonetheless, Jane had years of experience and she also communicated with other foot care nurses around the country. We decided it was worth writing about. When we did, we began hearing from many experimentally-minded individuals who tried Vicks on their nails and were satisfied with the results. Here are just a few stories:

May 24, 1999
Q. After reading about toenail fungus, I could not resist passing along my recommendation. Four months ago a nurse who does foot care suggested I use Vicks VapoRub for my own nail fungus. I rub it on each nail every day, and my nails are growing out clear. The treatment is cheap and easy. I’m sure many households keep Vicks on hand for congestion just as we do.

A. This is not the first time we have heard about using Vicks VapoRub on nails infected with fungus. Several years ago a professional foot care nurse told us that this old-fashioned herbal ointment might be helpful.

The ingredients in Vicks VapoRub include camphor, menthol, eucalyptus oil, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil. Some of these ingredients have antifungal activity. Applying a dab to a diseased nail seems like an inexpensive and safe treatment, though we have yet to see a published study of its effectiveness.


 

June 28, 1999
“I never had a problem with nail fungus until a can fell on my foot in the grocery store a few years ago. I began using the Vicks VapoRub I read about in your column and my nail is growing out clear.”


 

Sept. 20, 1999

VICTORY OVER TOENAIL FUNGUS WITH VICKS

“I had toenail fungus so bad that there were little white things on the left big toe eating away at the nail. My family doctor said it would take three visits and three treatments and the medicine can be hard on the liver. What really got my attention was the cost: $700.
I checked with a friend who is a podiatrist. He confirmed what the doctor said but assured me that the liver scare was no big problem.

“A week later, just before my wife and I left on a one month trip to Europe, she read your column about using Vicks VapoRub to kill toenail fungus. As soon as we got to Switzerland we went to an international pharmacy and bought a small jar of Vicks.

“I went straight to my room and put on my first treatment. The next morning the white things were gone. Six weeks later, there is no sign of toenail fungus! Now I apply it only once a week.

“I probably should share the $700 I saved with you but I spent it in Europe. I do want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for printing this home remedy.”
Mac McC.


 

If you would like to see a video about some other ways to solve the nasty nail fungus challenge click on this link.

If you would like more detailed written information about all sorts of solutions for hair and nail problems, you may wish to download our Guide to Hair and Nail Care ($2 download fee). You will learn how to deal with dastardly dandruff with MoM (milk of magnesia) or Listerine. You will also discover some amazing tips to get rid of lice, should anyone in your circle of friends, family or acquaintances ever need some nontoxic solutions to this vexing problem. And find out why some folks sing the praises of the oral supplement MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) for healthy hair and nails.

If you would like to read more stories about Vicks VapoRub, you might wish to download our Guide to Unique Uses for Vicks (only $1). It reveals the most unusual use of all: Putting Vicks on the soles of the feet to ward off a nighttime cough. Here is a cool story to whet your appetite:

“My mother-in-law always used to swear by Vicks on the bottom of the feet for a cough. We thought it was ludicrous.

“Well, Mom might have been right after all. I have an upper respiratory virus and haven’t slept in two nights, because of coughing. All day today, I couldn’t get out more than two or three words at a time without coughing. My doctor said to just let it run its course and try some Mucinex. But that hadn’t worked in the past. So, I thought, why not Vicks?

“I rubbed the bottom of my feet and put on some clean white cotton athletic socks. Within minutes, literally, I could get out a full sentence. I still have an occasional cough this evening, but it is 95% better.

“Hopefully this will give my sore ribs a rest for a few hours. I swear, the last time I coughed, before I tried the Vicks, I thought I twisted a kidney! I do agree with the reports I have read though. It should never be used in children under 2 years old.”


 

Lest you think all the Vicks stories are anecdotes, there is actually some research to back up the use of Vicks VapoRub against nail fungus. Check out this article in ISRN Dermatology, Jan. 26, 2012. The authors concluded:

“Vicks VapoRub (The Proctor & Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH) is effective against onychomycosis and is a reasonable option in patients who choose to forgo conventional treatments.”

And this article in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine reported on the results of an actual study, demonstrating a “positive treatment effect in 83% of the subjects.”

So, there you have it. The People’s Pharmacy take on Vicks VapoRub for toenail fungus: It won’t work for everyone, but a surprising number of people say it does help.

 

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  1. Kwite Kontrarie
    Reply

    I’ve no doubt that Vick’s could work, as well as Apple Cider Vinegar, which is another popular remedy (as well as many other anti-fungals such as Tea Tree Oil). Diligence and persistence is KEY! …and that truly is the hardest part.
    However, there are several people here that have found these remedies unhelpful, and there could be several reasons for that. Some fungi are harder to treat than others. I discovered this when I was being screened for a double-blinded research study on nail fungus. During the screening, they took photographs of my toes, clipped them down severely, and DUG all the debris out from under my nail and submitted all that gross stuff to the pharmaceutical lab for examination. However, a couple weeks later, I was rejected because the kind of fungus I had was NOT the fungus they were trying to treat. When I expressed my disappointment in the findings (because I really WANTED to be in the study), the nurse that contacted me said, “Actually, Honey, you are very lucky. The type of fungus YOU have is much easier to treat. You don’t WANT the fungus they are studying!”
    Another reason their fungus may be harder to treat could very much be related to their own body chemistry which can be adversely effected by… DIET!
    Yeah, yeah, yeah… you’ve heard it all your life, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Blah, blah, blah!!! :rolleyes:
    But, I’m DEADLY serious.
    Following a mild heart attack, I was scared into a radical lifestyle change. I looked into Dr Esselstyn’s diet to prevent and reverse heart disease. It is very similar to the “Forks over Knives” diet that Dr Esselstyn (of the Cleveland Clinic) is also very much involved in along with T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. (These are not quacks, folks.) Following a whole-food, plant-based diet for nearly 18 months, my toenail fungus, which I attempted to treat with other remedies before (but I was not diligent enough to follow thru) went AWAY without my “fussing” with it, and my husband’s fungus which was VERY severe — like large coral reefs on his toes, has shown significant improvement in 3 of his 5 affected toes, and he has used NO anti-fungal remedies on his toes whatsoever. So, what caused the change???
    I challenge you to watch “Forks over Knives” and “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and consider if that cheeseburger you’re eating is REALLY worth the adverse affects to your health. Some of you will say, “It SURE IS!” and continue to eat your way into a world of degenerative diseases. I know a cardiologist who offered a patient an opportunity to change his life by changing his diet, but the man refused and said he’d sooner undergo his SIXTH open heart surgery than give up his steak, as the diet was far too “radical” to him. (But SIX open heart surgeries is NOT “too radical”???)
    I say, change your diet and give it a year, or add some Vick’s, as well, and perhaps cut down the length of time for healing. You’ll feel better, look better, and reverse a whole heck of a lot of ailments besides toenail fungus to boot! What could it possibly hurt?

  2. zitajones98
    Reply

    after reading all of the comments regarding Vicks VapoRub I will go out and buy some today to start the process and also post my comment regarding the results. wish me luck

  3. Bobby J
    Reply

    I have had nail fungus for 20 years. I have tried just about everything except prescription medication. I saw on a facebook page people saying to try Vicks. I have been applying it for two days now after filing down all the thick yellow gunk and the nails actually look better than they ever have. They are still discolored but I think this may actually work. I will post again in a few weeks and let all of my fellow sufferers know whats happening.
    If Vicks works on my toenails it will be a miracle.

  4. SW
    Reply

    Dr GC Gibbons DPM – thank you so much for posting this soak ‘recipe’. I have been using it for just 2 nights and already see a difference. I will continue with your regime and I am confident that my toes will be healed. Many thanks. SW

  5. SW
    Reply

    Didn’t realise I had toenail fungus until recently when I looked it up! Just thought for years that I had bad, sweaty feet. But my two big toes and two little toes were yellowish, thickened nail and lined – not very nice. Fed up of not being able to wear open toe sandals in the Summer I recently looked it up to discover it’s a fungal infection.
    Was going to buy Lamasil until came across this site. I started two nights ago with the following routine at bedtime. I got one of those battery operated feet files and filed feet and toes and cut back all nails. I then soaked feet in soak recommended by Dr GC Gibbons DPM (who posted here – see above) and then dried feet thoroughly.
    I then applied (liberally) the Vicks Vapo rub to all toes (just in case), slipped socks on and went to bed. In two days I can already see a difference to the affected toes and the skin around them which has already changed to a nice healthier pinkier colour. I think the filing and soaking allows the Vicks to get in deep in to the skin which must speed up recovery.
    I have also been wearing leather flip flops to let the air get at them – that shows just how quickly it has worked – I wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing them before. Based on the results so far I am confident that it will be clear soon. Will post updates. So thank you to everyone for posting here. Good luck to you all!

  6. CB
    Reply

    Got toenail fungus at a nail salon about 7 years ago. Tried everything short of the oral medication that rots your liver (I’m a nurse). Nothing worked. Had all 10 toes lasered about a year ago. All have cleared up except the 2 great toes.
    I am doing the VVR rub at night as well as applying white vinegar with garlic oil every day to totally dry nails. In addition, I do a pedicure on myself once a week and thin the nails using … ta-da …. my Dremel tool! (a trick I learned from a podiatrist) The nails are looking so much better and I really believe all the little piggies will soon be beautiful enough to go to market again. (Forgive the weird humor).

  7. BAW
    Reply

    Works great! I constantly recommend it.
    I suffered for 7 years before trying Vicks Vapor Rub, nothing worked. In 3 months the fungus nail fell off and a new nail was half grown and soon after reached the normal length with no further problems.
    Pretty enough for pedicures and no embarrassment.

  8. MW
    Reply

    How long after I have “lost” the nails do I have to carry on with the Vaborub? I have been using it now for 10 weeks, and most of one nail has fallen off.

  9. Mary Lynn
    Reply

    I had a full can of paint accidentally thrown onto my big toe over 10 years ago. It took a month before it turned purple, then black and eventually fell off. Ever since then about once a year the nail starts lifting on one side and 3/4 of the nail tears off. I thought it was a damaged nail bed or from the marathon walking I do, but the pedicurists always said it was fungus. It takes 4-5 months for it to grow back to full length and then the process starts all over again. Any over the counter medication turns my toenail yellow. So quite by accident I found this Vaporub remedy. It has totally changed the color and strength of my nail. It’s not lifting or weak at all. It looks so healthy. Give it a try. Nothing else has worked for me.

  10. Marit
    Reply

    I’m using Viks Vaporub on my toenails, and it seems to work. Half of one nail (top layer) has come off. When, and if, it disappears, how long do I have to use Vaporub afterwards? Until the nails come back? I put it on mornings and evenings now.

  11. LN
    Reply

    I have a pesky fungus spot on my left big toenail that has been getting worse and worse. I went to a dermatologist at Yale University who gave me two options for treatment… Lamisil (the traditional oral pill treatment that can cause diarrhea and also should not be given to those with liver problems) and Vicks VapoSTEAM.
    She said a study was performed with Vicks VapoSTEAM (this is the clear liquid stuff you put in a humidifier). The subjects were first instructed to file down their diseased toenail until it was very thin and then they were to apply Vicks VapoSTEAM with a cotton ball once in the morning and evening. Results were just as good with the Lamisil, but took longer. You are supposed to keep doing it until the nail grows out and you need to make sure you keep the nail thin. Toenails can take 6-12 months to grow back, with big toenails taking an average of one year.
    I filed my nail down and saw significant improvement within a few days.

  12. Aaron A.
    Reply

    I am a police officer who, in 2008, bought a pair of water tight boots for duty, as some areas I patrol are like marshy wetlands. One a cold wintery day I spent the entire day in my cruiser and unbeknownst to me my feet were cooking.
    After about 3 weeks I noticed my toe nails curling, change color and i was in alot of pain. Ashamed, I never sought treatment and bought over the counter meds and creams but to no avail. This continued until December of 2013 (5 yrs) when I ran into this website and tried the Vicks (that I hated as a kid growing up in the early 70’s) and WOW! I had handsome feet before the fungus and gave up on ever wearing sandals this summer.
    So, I arrested the fungus with a warrant from this website and the court sentenced the fungus to life, away from my handsome feet. Who would”ve ever thought that vicks would do the job.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE:
    Dear Officer Aaron,
    Thank you for such an amusing and affirming message. We are so pleased to learn that the Vicks VapoRub treatment worked for arresting your nail fungus!

  13. Bernie
    Reply

    My wife got a nail fungus from a nail salon about 20 years ago. It got so bad that one day her nail lifted 90 degrees from her finger. Took her to the ER where they removed the nail. Was told by the doc that it would take 6 months for the nail to fully grow back and he was dead on. 6 months later she had a full healthy nail. Always sterilize any nail implements that are used on any infected nail. If not, you will transfer the fungus to healthy fingers and toes. You can use Betadine or a 90% Rubbing alcohol, both easily available OTC at any pharmacy area.
    I am diabetic and now have nail fungus on several fingers and several toes. Started today with the vapor rub treatment on my fingers. I used a plastic straw to insert into the vapor rub jar, wiped the outside of the straw with a tissue to remove the vapor rub from the outer sides of the straw. I then inserted the straw into the appropriate finger of a surgical glove and blow the vapor rub into the tip of the glove finger. After putting the glove on my hand, I massage the vapor rub around the tip of each finger to insure that the top and front areas of the nail are completely covered. By inserting the vapor rub into the glove finger tip, it is not all over my hand when I put the glove on.
    The glove will keep the vapor rub confined to the area of treatment and will keep it from being rubbed off and I am noticing very little aroma of the vapor rub. No mess at all. My hand is feeling very warm from the glove so I will probably cut the main part of the glove off of my hand, leaving only the effected finger portions intact.
    I am keeping a log and photos of my results and will try to post updates on a weekly basis.
    I got the surgical gloves at my local Harbor Freight months ago. I occasionally work repairing household drains. Was great to have them here and not having to go to a pharmacy to get them. I had the vapor rub in my medicine cabinet. A must in any household. lol
    Good luck to everyone.
    Bernie

  14. NigelW
    Reply

    Had fungal infection in big toe for 5 years. Tried Vicks vaporub & it has worked! Takes several months for black nail to grow out of course. Put vicks on at night mostly & mornings when I was not going out.

  15. Curt
    Reply

    Both of my big toes have had a fungal infection for about 15 years. They were ugly, thick and black. They were difficult to trim as they were so thick, hard and cracked. Every three or four years the toe nail bed would get separated from the toe nail itself and I would remove the toenail. It would always grow back with the fungus infection and the cycle would repeat itself. I really hated it.
    Last August I stumbled onto this web site and read about Vick’s. I removed both the big toe nails, as they were already loose, and started the VVR treatment. I make sure my toes and feet are completely dry, most of the time using a hair dryer on them after showering. I have applied the VVR religiously. I wear two pair of socks. The inside set are the low cut athletic type. It has now been about 6 months. My two big toe nails have grown back to about 2/3 of their full size. They look great. NO fungus at all. I took before and after photos of the nails and believe me there is an incredible difference. I wish I could post them to show the dramatic change and improvement.
    I went to my doctor and a podiatrist with this problem and they told me they see many people with the same issue. I asked about the Vick’s solution and my doctor said it was worth trying. I believe it will work in most cases if it is applied to DRY nails and done so EVERY day for about 1 year. I even do it when I travel. I try to never miss… I believe that’s the key. It’s taken over 6 months for my large toe nails to grow partially out. Nails are slow growing and this is a slow process. Good luck.

  16. Tracey W.
    Reply

    I’m really glad that I have read all the feeds as I have been to the doctors, chiropodist, dermatologist, you name it and finally after 2 years my doctor has only just confirmed that I have a fungal infection and has given me a 4 months supply of Terbafine of which I am still awaiting my blood test results before I can take them.
    I am now very anxious about taking these oral tablets as I have just googled them and they can be very dangerous to your liver or heart. I am now sitting here typing my comment with a generous amount of VVR on my foot and toes praying that I will not have to take the prescribed tablets. The fungal infection is on my right foot, mainly my little toe nail, but has now spread to the next toe, but not as bad. The skin around my toes started itching last week and has now gone all crusty looking.
    Please please let this work as I have always had nice manicured feet and have always looked after them, so this infection has really knocked my confidence as in the summer I am unable to wear open toe shoes.

  17. rbf
    Reply

    It will most certainly not completely clear up in one day but you will see a big difference! I’m not sure if this works on all people but it worked for me and I had taken Lamisil for almost a year. By seeing results in one day, I’m sure they saw what I did. The nail was much clearer, the white dead skin was gone, the white stuff under the nail was gone, and it looked much cleaner all around the nail!
    You still have to do a lot of filing because the nail is still thick but it’s a great start! If it’s going to help your nails you WILL SEE RESULTS THE NEXT DAY!

  18. David
    Reply

    About 20 years ago I got toenail fungus real bad on the little toe of my right foot. My Dr. didn’t want to give me a prescription because he said it was hard on the liver. It continued to get worse until I had just a little but thick piece of brown crust for a toenail.
    About a year ago I noticed that the other toes on my right foot were starting to get it. I tried every online remedy. White vinegar and hydrogen peroxide soaks did nothing. Then I came upon the advice about vaporub. For the past 2 weeks I have been soaking my foot in a highly diluted mixture of bleach and water for 20 minutes. Then I let my foot air dry and then slather my toenails with vaporub using a q-tip. I press it under the top of the nails and all along the sides and force it under the cuticle. The fungus on my other 4 toes has all but disappeared and the little toe is actually starting to get better.

  19. Lisa
    Reply

    Thank you so much Dr. Gibbons! Very helpful regime! I appreciate your detailing all the steps in this way. I can’t wait to try the Vicks this weekend.
    I have an ankle which was fractured in a motorcycle accident years ago and so have to wear shoes with lifts. I can’t throw out shoes as they are very expensive. Wiping them down with alcohol will hopefully help. I am going to try to buy a couple extra pairs of shoes if possible but each purchase with cobbler modifications is about $150.00.

  20. jane
    Reply

    Hi, I found this site by accident after removing my nail varnish and seeing the most unsightly yellow stuff under my big toe nail. I searched the internet and realised the fizzing feeling I’d had for a few days was a fungal nail infection. I was skeptical that Vvr would work, but to be honest the comments on here and other sites I found and the £3.49 price compared to around £20 for the paint on treatment, I thought I would give this a go.
    I have been barefoot for almost 2 weeks now, have applied Vvr to my clean nail (trying to push it under the nail as far as I could) 3 times per day and today it is almost clear. I’m really impressed and if you need something to work quickly I can’t recommend this highly enough. Thanks to everyone who has already posted on by here, without these comments I would never had known this would work.

  21. PDH
    Reply

    I’m going to give the VICKS a try. I have has nail fungus on my right big toe and on my left big for and the two smaller toes for many years. Got it from I believe shower stalls back in my hockey playing days. Up until recently I said the heck with it and let it be, but going to the beach and pool really suck when you have these ugly things staining up at you so I decided I was going to really try to conquer this.
    I started with funginail treatment. It did nothing. Then I went to kerasal nail treatment, I started getting results. It took the thickness down and softened the nail enough to where I could removed 3/4 of the nails, but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything any more. The nail starts to grow out and white stuff is still present so I keep trimming it off.
    Started the vinegar soak a few weeks ago and now I’m primarily on the Vicks starting yesterday in hopes I can start seeing results again. I will note that I have purchased 3 tubes of the kerasal nail and nothing new. It was with the first tube that the major majority of the work was performed by this treatment. At least it allows removal of most of my nails so that treatment can get more of my nail bed and hopefully now under the remaining nail. I’ll try and keep this post updated with my results.

  22. Frank P.
    Reply

    I have had toe nail fungus on my big toe for 3 years and hated the summers. Tried all sorts of over the counter creams but they did nothing. I wouldn’t take a pill my doctor prescribed because of liver risks so I tried Vicks. All kidding aside, 1/2 of the nail cleared up after 2 days. I am on my fourth day now and the nail looks great. I went from a white covered nail to clear in 4 days. Bravo Vicks! Thank you

  23. Stephen
    Reply

    Hi from England (UK)
    I have had problems with my nails for probably 10 yrs and I am 36 now. I have Tried all the meds but even they didn’t kill it. My last option is Vicks is this really going to work??? I am filing down the nails then applying once a day…. We’ll see. I am looking to join the Army Reserves (TA) So am hoping they don’t look at my nails and say no!

  24. Dr GC Gibbons DPM
    Reply

    For VICKS to work you need to be diligent.
    To help the VICKS penetrate use a washable metal nail file to roughen the top of the nail plate. Make sure you clean the metal nail file after each use so you do not reinfect the nail.
    Cleaning the feet and nails well is imperative.
    After using the metal nail file, twice daily, use a nail brush to clean the nails, around the nails and under the nails. Apply VICKS after each filing and cleaning.
    Make a foot soak which has 2 tablespoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of bleach, and 1 cup of vinegar, added to 1 gallon of warm-hot water.
    Soak for 15 to 30 minutes every day for the first week.
    Soak for 15 to 30 minutes every other day for the next two weeks.
    Soak for 15 to 30 minutes every three days during the next three weeks.
    Continue to soap weekly for 15 to 30 min.
    Apply VICKS after each soaking.
    Using KERASAL in conjunction with VICKS will speed up the process. The KERASAL will help to shed the infected nail so that the VICKS can penetrate the nail bed and cuticle easier.
    Wear clean bleach-able socks.
    Treating shoes
    A washable shoe is best when ever possible. CROCS are a great washable shoe.
    The CROCS can be tossed into the washer and air dried. DO NOT dry CROCS in a clothes dryer.
    Avoid wearing shared shoes such as rent-able skates or bowling shoes.
    If shoes can not be cleaned, use 91% alcohol on a paper towel to wipe the inside of the shoe.
    To dry moist, wet or damp shoes:
    Fill a pair of socks with clumping cat litter and sew the ankle closed.
    Stuff this pair of socks into the damp shoe and let sit overnight or for the weekend.
    To store shoes in a healthy manner:
    Fill a pair of socks with uncooked rice.
    You can add a fragrance to the rice filled socks by cutting up dryer-sheets and adding those shreds to the rice filled socks.

  25. BHW
    Reply

    Penelope,
    You may have hit the nail on the head. This very unclean and unsafe shop you go to for pedicures is more than likely the source of your fungus. Please stop going there!
    Let this fungus completely grow out before putting polish on your nails again.
    Then find a reputable nail salon in the future. And bring all your own implements, files, pumice stones, nail color as well as base coat & top coat (all brand new bottles). You will be starting with a clean slate so to speak and you should be okay in the future.

  26. Penelope M
    Reply

    I started applying Vicks two nights ago. My left toe had a green fungus that went away with an OTC product from the drug store, but first it turned my nail purple and black and then it fell off! So this time, I’m trying Vicks. So many websites suggest it.
    But I DO have to say this. I didn’t know it had transferred to my right toe until I went to get a pedicure and she removed the old polish. The nail was green! She saw it, we talked about and…she painted it with the same polish anyone can use! If it is contagious in that manner, the next woman will certainly get it. I asked her if she would throw away that bottle and she said yes, but I realized later that she must have put it back on the shelf. (Language barrier, perhaps, but they should have a rule!)
    Yuck.

  27. Rachael
    Reply

    I have had bad fungal nail infection on my big toe right foot ever since I can remember (now 36) I have always tried to keep short and cover with nail varnish to hide it. Last year I tried white vinegar but gave up hope after about 6 month and no change. Today I have cut the nail right back and filed then added a big glop of Vick. The colour looks slightly different already fingers crossed!

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