black nail

Everyone wants healthy strong nails, but keeping them in good condition can be challenging. Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, results from infection with one or more of several species of fungus such as Trichophyton rubrum, T. interdigitale, Candida and Aspergillis species (Hafirassou et al, Mycoses, online May 16, 2017). Common symptoms of nail fungus infection include thickened and discolored nails. But what do you do to treat a black nail?

Nail Fungus Leading to a Black Nail:

Q. I have a number of autoimmune diseases and had recurring problems with my thumbnail. I read a letter in your column from a writer whose toenail symptoms (black nail, warped nail, cuticle issues) perfectly described my thumbnail.

The letter writer had a chronic fungal infection that caused these symptoms. Vicks VapoRub cleared it up.

Nothing had worked to alleviate my thumbnail symptoms. I wondered if the toenail remedy would work for me.

I started using Vicks twice a day every day a few months ago. My thumbnail is cured and looks healthy and normal. I’m no longer embarrassed by my left hand.

Vicks VapoRub for Nail Fungus:

A. Thank you for sharing your story. People with struggling immune systems have more trouble treating nail fungus. However, a study of AIDS patients, who have compromised immunity, reported success with Vicks VapoRub (Snell et al, Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Jan-Feb., 2016).

People who use such a remedy for nail fungus must apply it conscientiously, as you have. Here are some other stories about black nails:

Tina the kickboxer  in New York had good results with Vicks:

I’ve had toenail fungus on my right big toe for years. On my left big toe it was more recent. I tried the antifungal pills but I didn’t like the fact it was harsh on your liver. I have a drink once in awhile. Alcohol is prohibited with the oral antifungal meds.

“I tried tea tree oil, but that didn’t work. I found out that Vicks VapoRub seemed to be effective on a few different websites. Seemed easy enough. Thankfully I like the smell of it.

“6 weeks ago I started using it on both toes, and on the rest of my feet. It works well as a skin softener, too. I applied it 2-3 times a day when I could. About 3 weeks in I started noticing a darkening under the nail. I’ve read this is the fungus dying off. What was weird was that on my left toe (the more recently infected) the fungus turned black under the nail. On my right toe, it turned dark red.

“About 4 weeks into it I started lessening my application of the VapoRub. I applied it more like 1-2 times a day. Sometimes just once. I stopped putting it all over my feet.

“6 weeks (today) I was able to pry my infected nail off of the right toe. It was a little bloody, but there was a healthy nail growing underneath. I’m going to keep applying the VapoRub and then bandaging it to protect it (especially since I kickbox). I’m waiting on the left toenail to feel loose as the new nail grows out.

“I have to say I was skeptical that Vicks VapoRub would be effective. I’m thrilled it worked. What a relief after all this time suffering from the fungus and not being able to get pedicures. Never again! I will use Vicks as a preemptive treatment from now on. And bonus, it will keep your shoes/feet from smelling.

“I would definitely recommend this method.”

Nigel also reports success:

“I had a fungal infection in my big toe for 5 years. I tried Vicks VapoRub and it has worked! It takes several months for the black nail to grow out of course. I put Vicks on at night mostly and mornings when I was not going out.”

Anyone who would like to learn more about this and other nail fungus treatments may be interested in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies. It is available in libraries or at

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  1. dzrlib

    I tried Vicks but it seemed to work very slowly. I got some ‘tincture of Iodine’ at the pharmacist, not iodide, and it worked great.

  2. SNH

    Adele Davis (the Nutritionist) had a remedy –some nail fungus is monilia. Her remedy was to take Brewer’s Yeast (oral tablets). I did that years ago and it worked…you have to take it until the fungus is gone completely…you’ll notice it gradually going away….if you stop taking it before that, it’ll started to creep back in

  3. Shirley

    I read about your remedy for toe fungas with Amber listerine vinegar and then applying Vicks vapour rub about a month ago il sure glad and thankful for the information it really works,
    Thank you thank you and again,
    What a relief,

  4. Joyce

    For the various cures for the black nail fungus (Vicks, Tee Tree Oil, colorless iodine) to work, does the nail need to be clear of fingernail polish?

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