Nail fungus is an extremely common complaint. It makes toenails thick, yellow and ugly. Infected nails may be so thick that trimming them is a chore. Dermatologists assure us that for most people nail fungus is not dangerous, however unsightly it may be. So unless you have diabetes or another condition that could raise red flags for foot health, you can try out home remedies for that ugly toenail fungus.
Home Remedies for Ugly Toenail Fungus:
Q. Thank you for writing about nail fungus remedies. I have had fungus on my left big toenail for ages. It was so ugly that I wouldn’t wear sandals.
After I read about over-the-counter remedies like amber Listerine and Vicks VapoRub, I tried them. My fungus is almost cleared up in just a couple of weeks. I’m a very happy person-ready for summer with my lovely toenails.
Is There Any Science on Remedies for Ugly Toenail Fungus?
A. There is limited research on home remedies for nail fungus, but a pilot study showed benefit from daily application of Vicks VapoRub (Derby et al, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Jan-Feb. 2011). The authors reported that 15 of the 18 participants “had a positive response to the Vicks VapoRub treatment for onychomycosis” (nail fungus).
Readers who would like to learn more about using Vicks, Listerine, vinegar soaks and other home remedies for ugly toenail fungus will find them in our Guide to Nail Care.
What About Fingernails?
The same fungus pathogens that thrive on toenails also infect fingernails, though this is less common. One reader wondered whether the same remedies would work for fingernail fungus:
Q. I have had toenail fungus for years. It started with a big toe and eventually spread to all my piggies. My wife complained, but since no one else ever sees my ugly toes I wasn’t too concerned.
Now I have fungus on one fingernail and I fear it may be spreading. My doctor was willing to prescribe anti-fungal medicine but the cost and the side effects have scared me. Will the same remedies that you write about for toenail fungus work on fingernails? If so, please send me a copy.
A. We can’t think of a reason why nail fungus remedies wouldn’t work as well for fingers as for toes. Daily soaks (hands or feet) in a solution containing original amber Listerine mouthwash and white vinegar are a popular approach to home treatment of nail fungus. You should be able to re-use the solution several times. Scientists have found that a topical preparation containing acetic acid (aka vinegar) is nearly as effective as amorolfine (Loceryl(®), a topical medication available in the UK and Australia (Sleven et al, Mycoses, May 2016). You’ll find other remedies in our Guide to Nail Care.