ugly toenail fungus

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.

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  1. Steve

    Did the “forks over knives” diet and a nice side effect was that my toe nail fungus disappeared.

  2. Kathryn

    If the hand sanitizer works so well on the fingernails will it work on toenails too?

  3. dmv

    Can a generic or house brand version of the Vicks VapoRub be used? I have read the ingredient labels on both types and they seem similar, but the proportions of each ingredient are not listed of course.

  4. Ronnie

    Teatree Oil can help to ease this Fungal in Toes but once nail is damaged it rarely goes back to normal Im afraid but once it settles File it gently and paint your nails a lovely colour wont be as noticeable.

  5. slr

    Have struggled with toe nail fungus for years and used the very expensive not covered at all by insurance drug Penlac, used the generic. It did help and I a grateful for that but it cost more and more, goes up every time you buy it, tiny little bottle over 51 dollars last time I got it. Had heard that tea tree oil, melaleuca, would help and I have tired it and found it to actually help. Tried the Vicks but that did not work for me. Hope maybe this will help someone else too!

  6. nell morgan

    Fungus spread to my nail. Hand Sanitizer was good for stopping it. Just put a blob in your hand for an easy way to get it under the nails. It also was good for other nails. Do this each time you wash your hands. Good for all kinds of germs.

    • Daisy

      Fungus is not germs; they’re completely different things. And hand sanitizer has contributed to the alarming rise in resistance to antibiotics.

  7. Louise

    Soaking your feet in warm water with cornmeal also gets rid of toe fungus

  8. Kelly
    North Carolina

    Vitamin E capsules, pierced with a safety pin, have brought about healing for my fungus toe nails. I apply the oil twice a day to all the toes, not just the infected ones.

  9. Linda
    Issaquah, WA

    I have been using Vick’s on my big toe toenails for the past couple of months, and there is definite improvement. I apply it daily with a q-tip, and then wrap it with a bandaid before putting on my socks. I think the bandaid has made all the difference, as it keeps the Vick’s on the nails and not on my socks. I buy the cheapest bandaids I can get, so it’s not cost prohibitive using them daily.

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