a bag of cornmeal

Cornmeal is great for making cornbread, cornmeal buttermilk biscuits, Johnnycakes (cornmeal pancakes), cornmeal biscotti, cornmeal battered fish, cajun cornmeal crusted chicken, and on and on. Want super crunchy onion rings, try cornmeal for the batter! But what if you want to get rid of toenail fungus? Why in the world would you soak your tootsies in cornmeal mush? Here’s one reader who took the plunge with surprising results:

Q. I tried cornmeal paste on a fungus-infected big toenail. I think I did it just once or twice and decided this is dumb and didn’t do it again.

Lo and behold, I recently noticed the fungus is gone and I have a nice pink big toenail! The remedy is cheap, easy and harmless.

A. Thank you for sharing your story. We have heard from many other readers who have found that soaking the affected foot in a cornmeal bath can get rid of nail fungus.

Some scintillating stories from readers:

Kate in Louisiana shares this cornmeal cure story:

“I used cornmeal on my toenail fungus and it actually worked!

“I went to the dollar store and bought some big tin foil pans (big enough to use as a foot bath). I then bought a large bag of yellow cornmeal from a natural food store. I put a couple of cups of cornmeal in the pan and added enough hot water to cover both my feet, and let it sit for 30 minutes before I soaked my feet. Then, I sat and soaked my feet for 1 hour while watching TV (once a week for 6 weeks in the cornmeal mush).

“Be sure to have towels around so you don’t make a mess when you are ready to rinse off. Unbelievably my toe nail fungus went away! I had been bothered by toenail fungus for several years and had tried everything else that was nonprescription.

“I tried Vicks for several months and never saw any improvement. I used Tea Tree Oil daily for over one year and had no improvement either. I tried a wide array of topical concoctions, but to no avail.

“It is two years later, after using cornmeal, and my toenails are still fungus-free. A few times I thought it might be coming back, so I did another soak, just in case. I don’t know if this will work for you, but for me it was rather amazing. Good Luck!”

Jessica in Maryland likes the cornmeal cure:

“I’ve tried almost everything…then someone mentioned cornmeal. It sounded weird, but thought why not. It really does work to my surprise!

“Mix cornmeal and water into a paste. Slap it on your toes (I do all even though I only have one toe that is bad).  Let it set for half an hour every other day for a week. After that do it once a week. You will notice a difference right away.”

Janice in Wisconsin adds this:

“Interesting that cornmeal can be used to treat toenail fungus. Cornmeal is also suggested for treating Hollyhock Rust (a fungus affecting Hollyhocks) in the garden. Corn meal apparently has some anti-fungal properties. What are the proportions of water to cornmeal to use for the soak?”

Those who would like additional details about the so-called cornmeal cure will find them (along with many other nail fungus remedies) in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.

Other popular remedies include soaking the nails in a solution of water with Listerine, vinegar or both. Either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar may be used. Vicks VapoRub is another favorite nail fungus remedy; for best results, it would be applied twice daily. Most of these remedies require a great deal of patience, as toenails grow slowly and take a long time to grow out.

This article was updated on 5/5/2016

Share your favorite cornmeal recipes in the comment section below.

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  1. Rhoda

    Please can I use white corn meal for my fingernail fungus instead of yellow corn meal. Thanks

  2. Lenita
    Roseville CA

    I am going to try the cornmeal treatment and may use it on scalp also but will be a challenge in the hair. I have used Chortrimasol oint. (antifungal) before and it can be purchased way cheaper on Amazon than drugstore.
    This is my first Peoples Pharmacy newsletter and I love it already. I used to be a nurse and I have observed that Doctors always want to do a prescription first before OTC.

  3. Vicki

    My problem is with my thumb – will the same treatments work? Should I try soaking it with cornmeal? I have been soaking every night in Listerine, then vinegar and also rubbing Vicks every night for a YEAR and it’s still a problem!

  4. Al

    I had problems with toenail fungus for several years, nothing I tried worked until I read on your web site about using cornmeal. After I read several testimonials from some of your readers, including some that recommended using organic cornmeal, I decided to try it. I found in my pantry a store brand open bag of cornmeal with a “use by” date of two years earlier. In a plastic tray big enough for both feet, I mixed 1 cup of cornmeal and enough hot water to cover my feet, let it cool down until it was comfortable to get my feet in. Within three weeks I could see a difference, I could see the fungus disappearing and the toenail getting a more normal color. For the first three weeks I did the treatment every other day for one hour and every three to four days for the rest of two months. That was two years ago and until now everything is fine. A truly miracle cure, unbelievable…..
    Thank you for keeping us informed…..

  5. mary

    Used vicks after Listerine soaks, wearing socks with it at night, and sometimes during the day, occasionally when a day with no time to soak but
    became really sensitive to the vicks.
    Area became itchy and even blistered some.
    I wonder if anyone has tried: Putting the cornmeal mush in a zip lock, [or some plastic bag] holding it in place with socks and going abut one’s day?

  6. mary

    Would like to add that I did the Listerine soak recommended earlier for about 6 months. The then two bad nails came off and I was thrilled of course. Unfortunately I did not continue soaks after this –for insurance- and fungus returned. Lesson learned after so much time. I really messed up.
    Then being impatient I went for lazer. She did all my toes even though i questioned the need. Purchased about 250$ worth of probiotic, cream and a spray for shoes–on top of the cost of lazer.
    Now I have fungus on ALL my toes. At great expense as well.
    AND–actually got fungus on the thumb nail used to apply that cream.
    Been putting off another 6 months of soaking but is time to get back at it–have been meaning to try the corn meal, hope to be smarter this time. Back when this when I was foolish and didn’t follow through one reader wrote back saying : keep at it patience is necessary.
    One note: Found a bottle of capsacian and have been applying it after every shower. It will not be eradicating the fungus, but holds it at bay so toes are not so ugly to see, not so embarrasing at least.
    Thank you for this reminder!

  7. Regina

    I also tried the cornmeal mush for a toenail fungus, per recommendations from a dermatology MD. Not much improvement after about 2 months. I then tried the Vicks on the toenails each morning and night and saw improvement after just two weeks! The toenails have flattened back out from the “tenting” I had prior to the Vicks application. Also, the nails are no longer yellowed. You have to be patient and wait for the toenails to grow out, which can take up to 6 months. I will finally have a “flip-flop” summer!

  8. Marcy

    I slathered a generic vapo rub on my toenail every morning after my shower and covered it with a bandage. I also filed the nail and the top layer down as low as was comfortable. It took about 2 months to see a great improvement. I kept doing it probably 2 weeks longer than I needed to because I was afraid it would come back if I stopped.

  9. cpmt

    I will like to add: people with fungus should change their infected shoes. New shoes made of (washable) natural canvas/material or leather are the best. Not synthetic. the fungus will comeback if the shoes are infected.

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