If you click on the white arrow at the bottom of this post 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.”
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.