Q. I would like information on home remedies for toe nail fungus. I don’t care about my ugly nails but they bother my wife.

A. Home remedies are generally low cost and low risk even though they are not tested the way prescription drugs are. One involves swabbing the affected nails with hydrogen peroxide.

Tea tree oil and oregano oil are other options. Here is one reader’s experience:

“Oil of oregano from the health food store can get rid of toenail fungus if used consistently. I had it for over 45 years in my big toe. My dermatologist told me it was impossible to get rid of since I’d had it for so long. It looked awful, but my manicurist told me about the oil of oregano and it worked.”

Dilute vinegar soaks may also help: “After spending over $500 on orthodox medical treatment to eliminate toenail fungus, only your recommended vinegar soak actually worked!”
We are sending you our Guide to Hair and Nail Care with more details on remedies for nail fungus.

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  1. Nel
    Wimberey, Texas

    For three weeks, I have followed the following protocol on a moderate case of toenail fungus on my two big toenails and one pinky toenail. (To be safe, I used it on all of my toenails. ) I am THRILLED with my results! The difference is amazing – the yellow tinge to my toenails is almost completely gone! Here’s the protocol I used: I mixed together a small amount of half of each, bleach and hydrogen peroxide in a sh

  2. chris

    OK so I have been fighting what at first was a fungal infection on my scalp that I got during the winter I got it to clear up with t gel. Well at first I had no idea what I was dealing with so I scratched it and had bald patches on my head well it cleared up and a few months later I started to notice under my wedding ring there was an irritation so I thought OK I’m allergic to my ring.

    Well it spread all over my hands and palms slacking in vinegar worked on my palms but not on my fingers I’ve gone to the hospital twice and had no help but they gave me steroids because they believed it to be eczema well it came back vinegar upset it for sure because it would make my skin red and irritated.

    I’ve started using selsun blue and it has taken away the redness and hopefully I can stop it from progressing anymore before it affects any if my other nails it has been a very irritating 4 months that its drove me crazy and to the point were I rejected any bad diet choice the good is I’ve stopped drinking and snacking.

  3. Michelle S

    Try extra virgin coconut oil. Organic is best! My daughter had eczema on her face and it cleared it up. It could be eczema on your face and fungus on your nails.

  4. shg

    Both my toe nails suffered trauma and came off the nail bed about half way up the cuticle. I taped it down and kept the tape pretty snug for several months along with using tea tree oil. It took about 5 months but they are now growing completely normal with a slight ridge but I file that down before polish. Hope this helps.

  5. JR

    CL: I had similar experiences with a toe and the nail bed never re-grew. After over ten years of struggling with it I finally had the nail removed. That was a great solution! I don’t miss it a bit.

  6. DH

    I took terbinafine for my toe nail fungus and lost my taste buds. How long will it take to get them back? so far it been 4 wks 4days

  7. CL

    I suffered nail trauma to one of my big toes 10 years ago; I tripped on a cement stair and the nail ripped back. I flushed it out with water and peroxide and pushed the nail back in place. It has never grown the same since (never grows fully attached to nail bed), has been pulled off a couple more times (I trip a lot)and shows definite signs of fungal infection. I have always tried to cover it with polish, use tea tree oil occasionally.
    After years of dealing with this I am now committed to getting rid of the infection using 2x daily a combo of apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil and olive oil, but am also concerned that due to the trauma that the nail bed has suffered, the nail may never grow to fully attach even if the infection is cleared.
    Have any one of you experienced repeated nail trauma and eventually recovered growth of a fully attached nail? I have to wear closed-toe shoes all the time just to prevent re-injury, let alone concealing my ugly infection from the world.
    Thanks for any advice you can give! :)

  8. Lori

    I have been having trouble with my fingernails for about 4 months now. They are lumpy and ugly. I have tried just about everything. Now my fingers are red and raw. They peel and crack. I even have it on my face. The doctor told me I have eczema, but I am thinking I have a fungus. Any suggestions?

  9. SD

    I have successfully used a salt scrub to cure foot fungus on myself when I was in Iraq. The showers were filthy and everyone in my unit got toe crud. None of the over the counter ointments we had available touched this stuff. I happened to have some pomegranate scented salt scrub that I got as a gift. I used it on my toe crud and the stuff went away and stayed away! and because it wasn’t straight salt (mixed with olive oil and pomegranate juice + who knows what else) it didn’t burn at all like you would think.

  10. Edina

    Soaking the feet in 5% white vinegar ones a day will clear up the nail fungus. That’s the best remedy. It helped me.

  11. N. Meister

    I have been using straight Listerine (off brand) for about 2 months. I have been funneling it back into the bottle and re-using it a few times as I have to make it deep enough in the pan to cover all my toes. Is this a bad idea to re-use it some? I wish I could buy it by the gallon but can’t find that. I will try the white vinegar with it so as to stretch it and not re-use it. I would appreciate a comment on this “re-use” idea as I have been doing this for quite awhile and notice a very small difference.

  12. msh

    My father in law used Clorox or bleach to kill fungus on both feet and he has baby feet. He is 87 years old and he has used it for a long time and I would use it on my hands to wash dishes also, and that will killed the fungus on your fingernail. You just pour a small like a Tablespoon or 2 Tablespoons in the soapy water and it will help if it’s warm water.
    Vinegar also helps make your feet soft and keep them from smelling (use almost hot water), if soaked in it for 30 minutes, towel dried, and use peroxide or rubbing alcohol or Vick’s rub will work on toenail. I don’t have a problem with my finger nail but I have a brother in law who had a bad one and had to see foot doctor.
    I can tell I have a little bit of it in my toenails. You file down the nail on your toe nail (it is the same thing they use at the beauty shop). You can use the file down on the toenail and made them straight down and be sure it is dry before you soap it because they work on dry skin first exfoliate my skin down on my feet before I soap it to get the dead skin off.
    If you can’t use Clorox or bleach do it with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, peroxide or tea tree oil and oil of oregano and Lavender oil (not fragrance oil) what ever you read in the book. When you are home and relax use flip flops or go barefoot in the house to help your toe and feet to air out and to be dry.
    After a long day at work take the shoes off and soak it, and be sure your feet is dry and apply vick’s rub or any of the herb oil with q-tip or cotton ball. Be sure not to use the electric file piece again after file your toenail. Throw the old one away and use another new file when you file again next time on the electric file, it helps keep the fungus away. You make have to use towels to help save the mess on the floor when you are filing it.

  13. CAS

    I’ve been using Thursday Plantation’s Anti-Fungal Treatment every day (found at a vitamin shop) for the past several months and I’ve seen a big improvement in the condition of my nails. I can finally wear sandals without having to paint my toenails!

  14. Elaine G

    On this site, I learned about the Vick’s vaporub and hydrogen peroxide last year. I have used, in the past, the prescription medicine which did not work and is very costly, Penlac (prescription paint on stuff) that did not work and is costly and tried rubbing on fungus cream.
    By far, the best remedy was the Vick’s and peroxide which I dutifully used all last winter — peroxide twice a day and Vick’s at night after emery boarding the nails. I started painting my nails again in the Spring through the end of August and during that time, did not use any remedies. My nails look the best they have looked in many years. I am experimenting with tea tree oil right now — I actually prefer the smell of Vick’s — through this winter. I think I will always have to do something for maintenance, but I don’t really mind, since something is finally working. My nails are definitely whiter and thinner.
    The photo shown here is what I would call a very bad case, and it might be worth $1,000 to try the new laser treatment I just read about. Claims to zap it completely in four treatments. I can manage mine with the home remedies.

  15. KS

    Soak your toes in pure vinegar one hour every night or as long as you can. My sister spent a fortune on doctors but she tried it and it worked! (I got the advice from a nurse who is a friend of mine!).

  16. GL

    I used Tea Tree Oil twice a day for a couple of months and my toenail fungus cleared up completely.

  17. RS

    Recently someone recommended I try Jason Tea Tree Nail Saver for my toenail fungus, which I found at Super Supplements. Soon after I started using it only a couple times a week, I saw an improvement. When I need to step out in public wearing my sandals and haven’t time to apply the oil as instructed, which includes massaging the oil under the nails and around the cuticles, and then wiping the excess off with nail polish remover, I will give a squirt to my toes with slightly diluted apple cider vinegar that I keep in a small bottle for such occasions.
    I like the cool, soothing feel of the vinegar. I’m thinking of applying the Tea Tree Nail Saver more often for even faster results. I also use it on my fingernails and my cuticles are healthier than they’ve ever been. Good stuff!

  18. wl

    toe nail fungus: the active ingredients in selsun blue will clear it up in a few weeks… just soak your feet a couple of times a day.

  19. Estan

    I am curious about the use of Listerine, vinegar and water. Can you suggest the percent or quantity of parts when combining the solution? Also, I tend to agree that using a combination of three solutions above might work but could counter each other. What do you think?

  20. JimP

    I heard comments on the radio show about Vagisil containing an anti-fungal. I began applying it to my 4 toenails infected with fungus. I rub a light coat of it all over the 4 nails after my shower in the morning every day. My nails are now clear and normal. It’s the best treatment for me because it takes so little time. I prefer it to VaporRub, which I used with success previously.
    My dermatologist tells me I have the least serious form of toenail fungus. She is quite amazed to see that Vagisil, and Vick VaporRub previously, clears up nail fungus. She has begun recommending these treatments to patients who can’t take the Rx drug.

  21. wls

    I have used bleach successfully to treat nail fungus. I dilute it with water (50/50) and apply with a q-tip. Mostly, I dab in onto the affected nail, but also on the skin at the top of the nail, and I have never had an adverse reaction. I don’t know if it will work if the fungus is down into the nail bed, but if only part of the nail is affected, bleach works quite well. It usually takes a few months for the nail to grow out. I put on white socks after applying the bleach, to make sure that the bleach will not damage anything.

  22. STEVE W

    Add another to the list. For several months I have been using Dial antibacterial foaming hand soap (contains triclosan 0.46%) on my big toe. I also scrape the build-up under the nail with an abrasive file. The hoe had a very large build-up under the nail. Now the toe is about 85% normal.
    From reading the comments it seems that it is best to use a combination of treatments.

  23. Anonymous

    Has anyone tried bleach for nail fungus? If so, what concentration is good? Any harm to the underlying tissue?

  24. sheila H.

    The best reason for using Vick’s vapo rub for toenail fungus is that it does not involve anything that might spill, be messy or liquid; no sitting for a soak; just apply and go.
    After a relatively short time, maybe less than 2 weeks, the nails will start looking much better; cleaner, clearer, and healthier. Plus, it smells good (to me)!
    My husband applies after his shower. He simply puts on his socks and voila`.
    After the fungus is gone you can go back to every few days; seems that the fungus causing toenail fungus is the “same” one that causes jock itch, (I have read/heard) and it seems to come from “nowhere”……. so use Vick’s for maintenance, as well as getting rid of that “stuff” to begin with.

  25. Gas...

    I have used with great success, foot baths, after showers, of a combination of Listerine, Vinegar & water, as described in “People’s Pharmacy’s” recent book.

  26. nro

    I read somewhere that corn meal soak works well, too. Any truth to this method?

  27. sh

    There appear to be a number of things that work, (so I would never consent to taking the pills they prescribe for it). The trick to ALL of the remedies is keeping at it til the nail grows out, and that can take a few months.
    I had fingernail fungus years ago, and cured it by taking Brewer’s Yeast (ie taking the tablets like vitamins, daily). I read it in the old books of Adelle Davis (the nutritionist). I know it was what worked, because I could see steady regression, and if I ran out of it and delayed getting another bottle, the fungus would progress. It works on a specific kind of fungus caused by having taken antibiotics that killed off your good bugs.
    As for toes: A friend says Vicks Vaporub (applied to the nail daily) worked for him.
    I bought some OTC Fungi Cure and it didn’t work. I dumped it out and filled the bottle with peroxide (to use the applicator brush is handy–applied to the tip of the nail so it can seep underneath). It’s cleared up one nail completely so far.

  28. danna

    Vick’s really does work. I’ve been using it for years for nail fungus and pustular psoriasis on my insteps. Also, Listerine mouthwash works well by just soaking for about 15 minutes…

  29. Big AL

    I’m strongly considering using the Vick’s for toe nail fungus. Mine are as bad as the picture shown.
    How long does the treatment take if used daily or nightly?

  30. sheila H.

    Toe Nail fungus home remedy: Vick’s vapo-rub. It contains quite a few natural antifungals; my husband has been using vick’s on and off for a few years now, one of the best things to use. Any time the fungus looks like it is coming back, my husband applies each day, otherwise every few days keeps it away. (He saw a visible improvement in a week or so of using Vick’s in the blue jar.)
    IF a person does not feel comfortable using something with petroleum products in it, choose Vick’s in a tube; it does not contain the petroleum base and works very well. STRONGER and works well (I read years ago that cracked heels can sometimes be from the fungus that cause toenail problems, etc. Use Vick’s on dry, cracked heels for relief).

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