foot bath at a day spa in a bowl

Q. I am a 21-year-old college student, and I have not had a “normal” big toenail on my left foot since I was 14. It came off when I was a freshman in high school as I was removing nail polish.

Since then, the toenail has grown back (with fungus) over and over and then repeatedly fallen off. A podiatrist prescribed me paint-on medication that made no difference at all. The toenail continued to grow back rough and a yellow-brown color. It was unsightly and embarrassing. In the summers I covered it with a Bandaid or a fake nail glued over my ugly toenail. My toenail was annoying and bothersome. If I could change anything, I’d just want pretty feet. A friend’s mom told me about tea tree oil. I tried it for a few months and thought the toenail was growing in clear, but then it fell off again. I gave up on tea tree oil.

I finally went online and found your web site with home remedies. I was skeptical, but it was worth a try. I bought Listerine, Vicks VapoRub, and white vinegar at the beginning of June. Since then, I have soaked my toenails for thirty minutes a day in a mixture of equal amounts of Listerine and vinegar.

At night I put Vicks on my toenails and then socks (the Vicks does stain!). Because I have been using both Vicks and Listerine, I don’t know which is actually curing my toenail, but something is working! My big toenail has grown out almost completely and it is completely healthy. I cannot believe that it has worked so well.  I honestly thought that I would never have a pretty toenail again.

A. Treating toenail fungus takes a lot of patience because the nails grow slowly. Thanks for letting us know about your success! We first learned about applying Vicks VapoRub to nails in 1999 from Jane Kelley, RN, a foot care nurse in Massachusetts. She told us that some of her colleagues were using Vicks VapoRub on patients’ fungus-infected toenails.

Since then we have heard from so many people about the benefits of Vicks that we have lost count. Here are just a few recent stories:

“I also had a nail fungus. My podiatrist had a “new” treatment not covered by insurance. I had to pay $600 up front for laser treatments–a second one free if the 1st didn’t do it.”

“After 3 treatments there was no improvement. After 18 months of ugly toenails I tried Vicks Vaporub and the nails are growing in clear and the ugly, thick yellow stuff is gone. Cost: $9.95 plus tax. Got the advice from my daughter who listens The People’s Pharmacy on NPR–thanks!” J.J.

Not everyone gets benefit, though. Here is an interesting story from Bette:

“Quite a while ago I think I read in your column that putting Vicks on the bottom of your feet would help with a cold, congestion, etc. Easily done. I discovered from doing that, that my cracked feet, and fingers, from applying the stuff, have cleared up, after 20 plus years of cracking, and using every RX or cream, lotion known to woman, due to my thyroid condition!!!

“I apply every night, and now also to fingernails and cuticle, they have never looked better, and I am 72, with gorgeous hands and nails. The Vicks has not particularly worked on my toenail fungus, which I have had for years and years, and seems to get no better and no worse. I have also taken biotin for years and years for my nails that were cracking from that condition. Regular straight doctors don’t have much to offer for such things.”

Then there are these:

“I had several toenails removed on the same toe for nail fungus. A friend told me to use Vicks vapor rub on my toes. No problem since I started using it.” Dennis

“A couple of years ago I had a fungal infection so bad in my toenail that it was about to fall off. My GP recommended Vicks Vaporub and it worked a treat. It took several months for the new nail to grow out, but once it did it was perfect. Because of my occupation as a nurse I was prone to these infections, and now I use the rub a couple of times a week to prevent the problem from returning. It may not work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.” Sharon

If you would like to learn more about how to improve your nasty nails and get back your beautiful feet, we discuss this and other home remedies for nail fungus in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care. If you would like to discover more about the fascinating things people do with Vicks VapoRub (think hemorrhoids, warts, paper cuts, bug bites, splinters, and so much more) consider downloading our Guide to Unique Uses for Vicks.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Luis

    My big toenail has fallen off due to nail fungus lately. Now my nailbed has fungus. Can i do the listerine with vinegar and vick at night even though the nail has fallen?

  2. Norma

    You can put saran wrap around your feet and wear socks to prevent stains if using vicks vaporub at night. told to me by a podiatrist.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.