Q. I have been diagnosed with dreaded toenail fungus. My doctor recommended an oral medication that is taken over several months, or even up to a year.

This medication can cause liver damage, though, so I want to try to avoid going this route. I have heard of several home remedies, including tea tree oil and Vicks VapoRub.

I am currently trying Vicks. My toenail has fallen off, but how can I tell if this treatment is successful? Do you have any other recommendations?

A. We have been collecting home remedies for nail fungus for years, so we have several suggestions. Now that your toenail has fallen off, you’ll need to keep treating it for several months until it grows out fungus-free.

One reader had this experience: “I had a toenail fungus, and the nail was about to come off. My doctor referred me to a podiatrist but commented, if it weren't so far gone, he would recommend putting Vicks VapoRub on it. I tried it anyhow and got results within days. It saved me a trip to a podiatrist. Three years later, the nail is perfect.”

Other people have had success treating nails with hydrogen peroxide, Listerine, vinegar or tea tree oil. We are sending you our Guide to Hair and Nail Care so you can learn more about these approaches.

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  1. Rose
    Reply

    My mom used duct tape. It worked! She cut a nail size piece and stuck it directly to her nail, replacing it once it started to come off. Granted she HAD to wear shoes/socks for three months but it worked. Seriously is duct tape good for everything!?!

  2. CB
    Reply

    I have had fungus under my toenail for about 60 years. Years ago, I used an oral med which didn’t help. I would like to try one of your home remedies, but have some questions. I live in a warm climate and wear sandals most of the time, and since my big toenail is very discolored and thickened, I have always worn nail polish on my toenails to hid this. My family has always called it my “ugly toe.” Can I accomplish any good results by continuing to wear nail polish while just dripping vinegar or urine under the nail? If I do try urine, how long would it be likely to take?

  3. sec
    Reply

    The only remedy available to my family 60+ years ago was absorbine jr for athletes foot. It stung like a hot poker but always cleared up within a couple of days at the most. I will revisit that remedy for my toenail fungus.

  4. DDM
    Reply

    Yes on iodine for toenails. Daily put regular or colorless iodine on top & under nail where able to reach until the nail grew out perfectly. Body ringworm fungus – treated with gentian purple and absorbine jr after nystop/nystatin, vinegar, and iodine didn’t completely work.

  5. ALPN
    Reply

    The only home remedy that I didn’t see is the one that worked for me on a mild case of toe nail fungus–iodine. I painted all of my toe nails with the kind of iodine that is used as first aid for cuts. I painted the top of the nail and under the edge everyday. It worked, and I stopped using it years ago. Iodine was also the only thing that worked on a ring worm infection that I had when I was a child. I might try a daily soaking of the nails if the problem were severe.

  6. EWT
    Reply

    I have rubbed Castor Oil on corns, calluses and any thick or rough spots for years – usually before bedtime. They soften and disappear after a while.

  7. NJV
    Reply

    I’ve seen many Doctors for my toe nail fungus and find they have one thing in common in questioning it. How long have you had it? Unfortunately there seems to be no external cure after it advances so severely that it begins to disfigure and cause inability to grasp and hold. As for the toes, be grateful it does not spread to the fingers. I’ve tried every so called remedy, from tea tree oil to… well, you name it.
    This condition I obtained while in gyms 20 to 30 years ago and the advanced stages are brutal. After adamant and rigorous remedy efforts, well I’ll name a few- vinegar, vics vapo rub, listerine and peroxide, homeopatic herbs…If any remedy works it’s only that it hasn’t reached an advanced stage.
    The only cure is orally and unfortunately there are side effects. If you’re healthy, not to worry, while under your Doctor’s watch.

  8. RNM
    Reply

    My doctor tells me I have fungus in my fingernails. It looks more like the pics I see of psoriasis of the nail, though I do not have psoriasis anywhere else. It looks like a drop of oil under the nail that is spreading towards nail bed. What is it? I also refused the oral meds that possibly could compromise my liver.

  9. T.A.S.
    Reply

    I treated my toenail fungus daily for three weeks with Vicks VapoRub. Initially the nail was decomposing and quite tender. I applied the Vicks over and around the remains of the toenail. When normal color returned and the nail seemed to be gone, I stopped using the Vicks. Two months later I have a normal looking and healthy toenail. It worked well for me!

  10. ejs
    Reply

    Do you rub Vicks on the top of the nail or put it under the nail?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: MOST PEOPLE TELL US THEY DO BOTH.

  11. JLL
    Reply

    I have used Fungi-Nail with great success for toe nail fungus. It can be bought at the drugstore.
    You must keep your toe nails very short and use faithfully twice a day for a long time or until the fungus is gone.
    It worked for me and I have not had a reoccurance.

  12. Beth
    Reply

    I read the toenail fungus section of your book and settled on trying Vick’s Vapo-Rub. It works for me and the nail is growing out clean over months. I apply it daily to the affected nail and about twice weekly to all the nails as a preventive measure.

  13. jejeje
    Reply

    Hi Everyone! I have toe nail fungus on my big left toe. I have had it for 8 years and I am only in my early 20’s. I did the Lamasil 4 years ago and it did not work, I might have skipped a dose or two though. 4 years later, I had my toe nail removed, and I am using Naftin cream and taking the Lamasil pills again. A friend of mine did this for 8 out of her 10 toe nails and it worked REALLY well! I am sure it will work for me since its three different methods but I will let you all know.

  14. Beth
    Reply

    I want to thank this site for helping me cure my toenail fungus. I downloaded many reader comments in May 2008 and decided to try soaking my toe in a 50/50 solution of gold listerine and white vinegar for half an hour each night. I reused the same solution for a few nights and then replaced it with fresh once or twice a week. I also started wearing sandals all the time and getting lots of sun on my feet. The fungus had stopped progressing within three weeks, and the toenail grew out over many months time. It is now almost a year later and my toenail looks normal. It’s a little thicker than the others and slightly misshapen, but no one else would notice. It took a long time, but it was really worth it. I am very grateful for the help. Thanks!

  15. LMM
    Reply

    Anyone know if you should cut away as much as possible of the affected nail whilst using the topical recommendations, such as vinegar, tea tree oil, vicks, etc.? I am trying to cut away the affected parts of the nail, and then using tea tree oil and want to know if this is what others are doing.

  16. EH
    Reply

    After finding out how amazingly well Absorbine Jr. works on athletes foot, I decided to try it on a toenail that was showing a fungal infection. I did debride as much of the affected nail as I could. The infection had not yet reached the germinal matrix. The results were good. It does take patience to keep up the treatment until the healthy nail grows out. It probably took about a year.

  17. SAB
    Reply

    Approximately six months ago a dermatologist prescribed Naftin Cream and Urea ointment for my toenail fungus. Progress has been very disappointingly slow although I was told it would take about three years. After reading all the positive comments about Vick’s, I will probably try it. However, I would like to know if the generic version of Vick’s is just as good.

  18. Patty
    Reply

    I too have toenail fungus. Believe I got it at a nail place. I read of MIRANEL anti fungal treatment from a Doctor’s column in the newspaper. I’ve been using it for about 6 months and it really works. I still have sometime to go before the nails are all grown out, but what has grown is fungus free! Hope this helps.

  19. JMF
    Reply

    None of these home remedies have helped me; I just end up with thicker nails, which hurt. Nizoral almost did me in with an allergic reaction.
    I’m waiting for the real deal.

  20. Lawrence L.
    Reply

    I had a very well entrenched case of toenail fungus. Two years ago I began soaking my feet in a 1/3 vinegar solution every other day. I continued this for 16 months with missing only a about three weeks while on vacation.
    At the end of the 16 months, my fungus was vastly improved (good enough to wear flip flops w/o being embarrassed). I then (about two months ago) switched to econazole nitrate cream, 1%; progress seems to be continuing.

  21. mick Hamblen
    Reply

    vinegar rules! I spray my feet in the shower with 50/50 vinegar and water to prevent fungus return

  22. Gin
    Reply

    I too, had a toenail with fungus and after reading on this site about vinegar began using it daily after my bath. For convenience I used undiluted vinegar in a small spray bottle. It took several months for the nail to grow off but today it’s fungus free and I have a nice healthy looking nail. Thank you People’s Pharmacy!!!

  23. R.E.S.
    Reply

    After visiting a podiatrist, I bought tea tree oil—(had never heard of it before), and have used it after showering, diligently for over a month, and the fungus seems to have almost gone. I am waiting until the whole nail grows out and then I will know if it is gone completely.

  24. uscgirl
    Reply

    try coconut butter oil. It cures everything from dry, white crusty heels to stinky feet, etc.

  25. B.S.M.
    Reply

    I talked this problem over with a friend who told me her husband pee’d on his foot in the shower and the foot fungus went away. I tried it (as a female, I collected the urine in a plastic cup immediately before showering), pouring it on my toe before turning on the shower, and the small spot on my large toenail disappeared in about a week!

  26. WD
    Reply

    I have been most successful with 100% tea tree oil. Beware that some products labeled tea tree oil have as little as 15% tea tree oil! Vicks Vaporub seems good as long as you don’t stop, but doesn’t seem to cure everyone.
    Trying NonyX, no decision yet.
    If the fungus has been on nails a long time, a cure seems more difficult. The oral meds don’t always work either. Lot’s of risk & money, with no assurance.

  27. jm
    Reply

    I don’t have fungus of the toenail, although I do have a couple of thickened toenails. My main concern is the dry skin type fungus on my toe and the side of my foot. At times it seems to be dormant and other times it hurts and becomes red.
    My doctor recommended Lamasil orally, but when he said that he would have to check my liver, I said NO!!! He recommended the spray or ointment which helped a bit, but the Vicks did more, I believe.
    It still is not gone, so I would appreciate any other treatments that have worked for others. I do realize that this problem is difficult to eliminate.
    This is a great site.
    Jean

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