The winter was brutal for much of the country, but spring is finally here. That means we will emerge from our cocoons and swap our parkas and boots for T-shirts and sandals.
Of course once toes are exposed, everyone will see the nail fungus that has been lurking under cover all winter. Dermatologists are still puzzled why some people are susceptible to this infection while others are resistant.
Once it gets a “foothold,” nail fungus can be tenacious. One reader admitted, “I have had fungus on one of my toes for a long time. I have been to the dermatologist and podiatrist repeatedly and even had the nail removed. I was given strong pills, but they didn’t work. The podiatrist does not understand why the infection persists.”
Nail removal is an extreme measure for fighting fungus. Besides discomfort and the risk of infection, it doesn’t always produce a lasting cure.
Prescription medications may help but they are not infallible. They also have potential side effects. Drugs like itraconazole (Sporanox) and terbinafine (Lamisil) must be taken for 12 weeks. They both carry a warning about serious liver toxicity. Other side effects include headache, digestive distress (diarrhea, nausea, gas and stomachache), dizziness, rash and itching.
It’s hardly any wonder that people are willing to try home remedies before taking medications for months or having their nails removed. Many doctors find folk treatments incomprehensible, since they are not FDA approved and have not been subjected to clinical trials.
Vicks VapoRub was effective in a small pilot study (Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Jan-Feb, 2011). A review of treatment for nail fungus (ISRN Dermatology, online, Jan. 26, 2012) concluded that Vicks VapoRub “is effective against onychomycosis [nail fungus] and is a reasonable option in patients who choose to forgo conventional treatments.”
One reader shared his success with this treatment: “I am a police officer who in 2008 bought a pair of watertight boots for duty, as some areas I patrol are marshy wetlands. On a cold wintery day I spent the entire day in my cruiser; unbeknownst to me, my feet were cooking.
“After about three weeks I noticed that my toenails had curled and changed color. I was in a lot of pain. Ashamed, I never sought treatment. I tried over-the-counter creams to no avail. This continued for five years, until December of 2013.
“That’s when I read about Vicks VapoRub on your website. I tried the Vicks (I hated it as a kid growing up in the early 70s) and WOW! I got great results. I’d had handsome feet before the fungus and now I can wear sandals in the summer again.
“So, I arrested the fungus with a warrant from your website and the court sentenced the fungus to life, away from my handsome feet. Who would have ever thought that Vicks would do the job?”