toes with nail fungus

Nail fungus (onychomycosis in doctor-talk) is a very common problem. Most health care providers don’t consider it serious, although some readers have told us that terrible nail fungus can make nails rough, so that they snag on socks, or make them so misshapen that it is difficult to wear certain shoes. There are a number of possible treatment options, but some of the prescription drugs for this problem are very pricey (like Jublia) or have potentially serious side effects (such as Sporanox). That’s why we are always interested in success stories about home remedies for this problem.

Apple Cider Vinegar Vanquished Terrible Nail Fungus:

Q. You had a question from a person with terrible toenail fungus. The doctor recommended surgically removing the nail. You suggested that urea paste could dissolve the fungus-infected nail.

WAIT! My 85-year-old mother had both big toes infected with fungus, making them unsightly. She didn’t like wearing open-toe shoes.

We found a solution and within eight months both nails are much improved. We started with twice-daily applications of tea tree oil, then moved to twice daily applications of apple cider vinegar.

This was not a bath or soak, just applying the vinegar with a cotton swab after a shower, before bedtime and once during the afternoon. We allowed the nail to dry completely. With patience and occasional clipping, we have conquered this problem.

Why You Need Patience to Overcome Nail Fungus:

A. Patience is critical to any treatment of toenail fungus because toenails grow so slowly. Thanks for your detailed account of your successful treatment strategy. We haven’t seen any studies of vinegar against nail fungus, but we did find research demonstrating that a commercial product containing acetic acid (vinegar) with other ingredients helped somewhat to inhibit the Tricophyton mentagrophytes fungus responsible for some nail infections (Mycoses, May, 2016).

Readers who would like more details about other home remedies for nail fungus may wish to order our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.

Join Over 140,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Ivan
    Baltimore.
    Reply

    How to stop ringing in ears?

  2. Bunny
    TN
    Reply

    Sulfur soap is the solution we have found for fungus on toe nails. It’s available at Latino stores. My husband’s toe nail fungus was so bad that I even began to have that problem by using the same shower stall! Using sulfur soap to wash the feet, brushing the nails with a soaped nail brush, has worked wonders. It takes a while (at least several weeks) for improvement to show, and takes months for the ugly nails to grow out, but the persistence is worth it.

  3. lee
    sarasota, fl
    Reply

    After many years of infection, my orthitist said my shoes where too short, so I went from a 9 to a10 or 10½. The fungus gradually went away and has stayed away for over 2 years so far.

  4. Suzanne
    Reply

    Footlogix. I found a spa that gives FootLogix pedicures. And, I brought home a can of their FootLogix Antifungal Tincture. It has a little tiny nozzle that you stick under and in the corners of the nail and spray it there twice a day. In 6 mos the fungus was gone. It sounds like a long time.. but I had gone years with this problem, and doing the spray twice a day was way more convenient that soaking my feet or trying to get stuff in there with a dropper.

    You can buy the stuff on Amazon, it does not cost very much there. Or, better yet, treat yourself and find a place to give you a FootLogix pedicure.

    There are also some other FootLogix products that are wonderful. My husband has bad and painful cracked heels. The only thing that has ever worked for him is the FootLogix DD cream mousse or the Extra Cracked Heel Mousse Formula.

  5. Doc
    NE Cali-NW-Central Nev.
    Reply

    I’ve found that a single soaking in a moderately strong solution (call it about 1/4 cup in half a bucket of very warm water with a single squirt of dish soap to make the water ‘wetter’) of Clorox does the trick. I’ve only had to use it a couple of times in my life – put my foot into water about as hot as I can stand with the Clorox and soap, then let the water cool. Problem solved.

    As a Corpsman in ‘Nam for a couple of tours I found that foot fungus was not uncommon and I used the same technique: Clorox in hot water with a bit of dish soap – generally treating the foot and then the socks would take care of the problem when in the field. Just soak the foot in the water until it moves from ‘very hot’ to ‘cool’. Just don’t burn yourself, the heat just makes it more comfortable I suspect. And gives you a finite time to soak, you don’t want to soak too long as Clorox can be caustic over time. From about as hot as you can stand to cool is the correct length of time. Don’t forget to toss in your socks as they can carry spores or bacteria, I recommenced doing this AFTER the initial soak, then after 10 minutes remove the socks, rinse in ‘clear’ water, dry (as if they dry @ 100% humidity), and you are set for another week or more of walking.

  6. Jim
    Reply

    I had (had) terrible toe nail fungus. I used the sand paper roll on my Dremmel (tool) to grind my nails down.

    I read that a soak in white vinegar on a recurring basis would work. I tried it, soaking my feet for twenty minutes every two weeks, and within a few months the fungus was gone.

    I’m a diabetic, and had occasional lesions on my feet and cracks in the soles of my feet that were cured/eliminated at the same time.

  7. Annilu
    Tuscaloosa
    Reply

    Fungus had hideously darkened both my big toenails. Even several coats of the special polish (Dr.’s Remedy) that helps treat toenail fungus didn’t hide the discoloration completely… very embarrassing. I began applying tea tree oil daily. It appeared to be helping, but given the glacial pace of toenail growth, this was taking forever. Then a dog bit my right foot. To avert infection, the doctor recommended that I soak my foot daily in hydrogen peroxide. Lo and behold, the H2O2 bleached out the discoloration on my toenail! I started soaking both feet, and in a few days I could wear pale pink polish again. With vanity soothed, I’m now soaking my toes in Listerine for the duration. My toenails look and feel better than they have for years. I highly recommend this two-pronged approach to treating toenail fungus. P.S. The dog bite healed cleanly, too.

  8. Lloyd Moore
    New Bern, NC
    Reply

    I’ve had two episodes with toenail fungus. The first time I didn’t recognize what it was, but luckily, a friend did. My doctor’s advise wasn’t too helpful, but somewhere I read that Vicks Vaporub might help. I massaged it into the toenail and cuticle every morning and night, and after a few weeks began to notice that as the new nail emerged from the cuticle, it was fungus-free. Patience is needed to allow time for the entire nail to grow.
    A second episode a few years later, caught earlier because I knew what it was, also responded to Vicks.
    I haven’t had any recurrences since I stopped going without socks when wearing boat shoes or sneakers.

  9. Julie
    Portland, OR
    Reply

    After visiting a nail salon for a pedicure I had a recurring problem with nail fungus. I read a lot of articles and consulted my dermatologist who advised me that if you have a toenail fungus you most always have athletes foot since they are related. I came to the conclusion that an entire foot soak was the best remedy. I clipped back all of the dead parts of the toenail, soaked my feet twice a week in a “bath” of 1/3 water to 2/3 apple cider vinegar with “the mother in it” being careful to scrub off all areas of my feet with a stiff brush each time. I watched my new toenails grow out healthy and pink. I continue to perform this treatment once or twice a month for maintenance. My toenails are healthy, my athletes foot is gone, and my feet feel better for the effort.

  10. Lisa B
    Houston Area
    Reply

    I had good success with brown Listerine. I would put it on a cotton ball and rubber band it onto my big toe and let it “soak” for a bit, then take off the cotton ball.

  11. Patricia
    Texas
    Reply

    I used regular white vinegar in a dropper bottle, and applied several drops to each toenail daily after shower. I use Dr. School’s foot powder, and wear mostly Crocs-type footwear with air circulation, and go barefoot or open-toed sandals or slippers at home. Also adopted a low glycemic-index diet with many antioxidant veggies and fruits, and incorporated coconut oil in diet, about 1 Tbsp. most days, added to oats, sweet potatoes, or hot soup. Also take turmeric and fish oil as anti-inflammatory, and a multivitamin, and vitamin D3. Didn’t keep records, so can’t say exactly how long until toenails mostly cured, but I think that, although the vinegar was helping, the most marked improvement came only after the dietary changes, especially the coconut oil. The health of my fingernails, skin, and hair improved as well.

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.