Q. While doing military service in a tropical paradise for two years, I contracted a fungal foot and nail infection. (My feet were always wet.) No medication was effective.
When I returned to the States, my grandmother learned of my problem and told me she could recommend one of two possible solutions: 1. Amputate my feet, or 2. Soak them in vinegar and Epsom salts.
After a few seconds of consideration, I agreed to try Nana’s solution number 2. It requires a pan in which both feet will fit, enough water in the pan to cover the feet, two cups of white vinegar and one cup of Epsom salts. Put the feet into the bath and watch TV or read a good book while they soak. Repeat this every few days until the fungus clears. (It took almost a month.) I still use this treatment if my feet start feeling itchy.
The only side effect was that I became addicted to watching Jeopardy! while soaking my feet. Alas, I have learned there is no 12-step program for me.

A. Many readers mix old-fashioned amber Listerine with white vinegar to make a foot soak to treat nail fungus. Others have used an Epsom salt solution to rid themselves of athlete’s foot. This is the first time we’ve heard of mixing vinegar with Epsom salts for a foot soak. Thanks for sharing your Nana’s recipe.

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  1. cpmt
    Reply

    also tree tea oil, with oregano or thyme also anti fungal oils. they all are natural and are anti fungal, mixed with other oil like coconut oil or olive oil. If you use garlic, you should add oregano extract and thyme extract since all of them are anti fungal.
    I STILL BELIEVE THAT LISTERINE AND/or VICKS are the best to clear fungus.

  2. S.A
    Reply

    How much garlic should you use in a foot soak for the anti-fungal benefit?

  3. TA
    Reply

    garlic would actually help, it’s a natural antifungal

  4. Rachel A
    Reply

    This might be an injury rather than a fungus.

  5. cpmt
    Reply

    normally soak 30 min. twice a day.

  6. Karen W
    Reply

    The directions say what to combine together to soak, but not HOW LONG TO SOAK – 30 minutes? an hour?
    thanks in advance for your replies

  7. Marv
    Reply

    Tea Tree after a long period didn’t help at all, so on to some of the other suggestions.
    Iodine sounds plausible, then comes vinegar and Epsom salts, a little fresh garlic and a pinch of oregano and then saute the little buggers until the nails fall off. (only kidding)
    The meds have the possibility of causing some life threatening side effects and no one will care if I have perfect nails if I wind up terminal.

  8. Cindy B.
    Reply

    I have a discoloration under both great toes, which I assume is “fungus.” I know EXACTLY when and where I contracted this; it was from wearing too-short ski boots, which put a huge stress on my great toes bilaterally. A ski-boot “fitter” INSISTED they were not too short and so I wore them until I could bear it no longer. But the damage was done.
    Shoulda sued him! Ever since then I’ve lost a big collection of toenails and the toenails are at least partially off the nail beds much of the time. Anyway, you sure don’t need a “bad” spa or pool to get the infection.

  9. cpmt
    Reply

    I got a (yeast)/fungus skin (under my breast) infection from gym pool. They never changed the water until someone complained to some health department.

  10. dmp
    Reply

    I have had a problem with fungus for about 3 years. I was cut during a mammogram & it won’t go away even with prescribed topical medicine. I also have fungus on my sitdown – same medicine twice a day, but it won’t cure it. Any suggestions? My GYN won’t take care of it & the dermatologist prescribed the topical medicine which hasn’t cured it.

  11. JMH
    Reply

    I, too, had a problem with a toe nail fungus and thanks to People’s Pharmacy, used Listerine once a day for quite a while. I poured a capful over the nail in the shower. We keep our shower very clean so I don’t think the infection came from there but I was doing water aerobics in a pool and wonder if that was the culprit. My nail never fell off, it just kept growing and was trimmed regularly as I watched the new growth coming in looking very healthy. This took about six months. I don’t use any pools now, however.

  12. DS
    Reply

    What are the proportions of vinegar to Listerine? I’m glad to see the Epsom salts/vinegar soak idea.

  13. cpmt
    Reply

    also vicks vaporub might help in some people.

  14. Sylvia S.
    Reply

    I am a nurse volunteer at a local free clinic. We had a patient with foot fungus who was given a prescription for medication that she found to be too expensive for her to purchase. I told her about soaking her feet in white vinegar and at her next appointment, she was so excited. “It worked!” was how she greeted me. I have had many opportunites to share natural remedies, even with one of our doctors!

  15. ETM
    Reply

    I too am an avid reader of your column and have found many of your suggestions helpful. My tried and true remedy for athlete’s foot has been to swab the affected area with a Q-tip soaked with tincture of iodine. One application is sufficient. My limited encounter with toenail fungus also seems to have benefited from this remedy. The affected toenail was soaked with iodine just twice. After many weeks the nail fell off leaving a healthy new nail in its place.
    I hope that others have equal success with this simple solution.
    ETM

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