toes with nail fungus, ugly toenail fungus, help toenail fungus, cure toenail fungus, toes

Toenail fungus is ugly. It turns toenails yellow and crumbly and makes them thick. They become difficult to cut. But drugs for nail fungus have drawbacks. Oral medications such as itraconazole (Sporanox) or terbinafine (Lamisil) may occasionally produce side effects such as nausea, rash or, in the case of itraconzole, congestive heart failure. Terbinafine has been linked to immune system disorders and liver damage. Even though such reactions are far from common, people who learn about them are understandably reluctant to risk them for the sake of prettier toenails. So is there a more natural way to help toenail fungus clear up?

Are There Natural Approaches That Help Toenail Fungus?

Q. I just saw an ad on the Internet about a toenail fungus product containing baking soda, animal fat and coconut oil. The visual was of someone’s feet soaking in a solution.

Will a natural treatment like this solve this problem? Does any natural treatment solve toenail fungus?

A. We are not familiar with this greasy-sounding approach to nail fungus. There are, however, many natural approaches that can be helpful against this problem.

Remedies That May Help Toenail Fungus Disappear:

Oily remedies to help toenail fungus include applying tea tree oil or Vicks VapoRub directly to the nails. There are even a few studies of Vicks against toenail fungus (Snell et al, Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Jan-Feb. 2016; Derby et al, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Jan-Feb. 2011). Vicks VapoRub contains camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol as its active ingredients against cough. We suspect some of the inactive ingredients are also working against toenail fungus: cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, thymol and turpentine oil. Both the cedarleaf oil and the turpentine oil may have some components similar to those of Norway spruce resin. A Finnish test of the coniferous resin found it could help toenail fungus, at least modestly (Sipponen et al, Mycoses, May 2013).

Other Nail Fungus Remedies:

Some people report success from soaking their feet in a 50/50 solution of amber Listerine and white vinegar. Others have used even more unorthodox treatments, such as soaking the affected toenails in cornmeal mush.

Urine Against Toenail Fungus:

One enterprising individual tested the “urine cure” by soaking one foot and not the other. After two months, this reader noted a visible difference.

Quite possibly the active agent in urine is urea. The Mayo Clinic website recommends treating fungus-infected toenails with urea-containing cream to soften them before trimming and filing.

You can learn more about a variety of remedies to help toenail fungus clear up in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. Dallee

    These home remedies absolutely do work — one may need to rotate through them because there are variations in the type of fungus and not every remedy will work on every fungus. In my experience, try an approach for about two weeks and, if that does not work, shift to another remedy. My toenail fungus vanished on the second home remedy I tried, which worked in pretty short order.

    Further, given the expense of professional treatment by laser or nail removal, or the cost of a course of prescription medicine — either likely to run about $500 for a course of treatment — trying a home remedy first is particularly practical.

  2. Lorrie

    For toe fungus I painted my nails all around nail tip and cuticle with liquid bandage every time I showered. It took six months. But cheaper than prescription. It also cured cracked finger nails. I use once a week as prevention.

  3. Anne
    Kenosha, WI

    I successfully got rid of toenail fungus on my big toe by taping a juicy wedge of lemon to the toenail every night for about a month. The first time I did it, the fungus came back. But after a second course of lemon wedge treatment, it was gone for good. This was about 25 years ago. It takes awhile for the clean nail to grow out after the fungus has been killed by the lemon, so you have to be patient. A side effect of this treatment is that your toe smells great every morning!

  4. Jan

    I had a brief bout with toenail fungus. I applied pure, undiluted Tea Tree Oil directly to the nail and surrounding nail bed, using a cotton swab, for about a week. It was bad enough that my toe nail was separating from the nail bed. After a week of Tea Tree Oil, it disappeared. Hasn’t returned, and that was 5 years ago. My pedicurist says that I have ‘delightful’ toes to pedicure!!!

  5. Richard

    I have had that dreaded toe nail fungus. In People’s Pharmacy saw a few times Article about using listerine (amber) and vicks vapor rub. Finally decided to try that after trying the nail polish type of treatment and the pill that was supposed to work in the blood. Neither Worked. I Decided to give this a try.

    Started soaking every other day for about an hour. Every 15 or 20 minutes I used a pen knife to gently clean out the Know Soft Fungus. At the end put vicks under nail and on top of nail. Before Soaking again would clean out any vicks and Soak foot. Did that for about a month the stretched the time to about twice a week, doing Same thing. Did it Work “YES”. I Now am Fungus free. It took about 5 months only because the big Toe nail grows so Slow. Thanks For the Articles I would have never guessed this would work. But DID!!

  6. JimP
    Winchester, VA

    I had success with Vicks Vaporub, but it created a matte finish on my toenails. I have also found Vagisil anti-itch cream to be successful (a PP guest said that resorcinol was an anti-fungal). The Vagisil left a healthy, shiny nail surface . I would apply Vicks or Vagisil once/day after a shower. They eliminated the nail fungus, but it returned whenever I quit applying them, so I had to constantly apply them.

    In the winter, I have a lot of problems with athlete’s foot, and I treat it with econazole, an Rx from my dermatologist. Two years ago, I applied the econazole to my toe nails for 3 months. The fungus was gone and I have not applied econozole since. The fungus has returned only a little bit on one toe nail. My dermatologist says that I have the least serious form of toenail fungus, where the nail turns white and separates into layers.

    These treatments may not work for more severe forms. Note: Once your toenail is discolored with fungus, it is not going to go away. All you can do is wait for new, healthy nail to grow out, which will take months.

  7. Joeallen
    Central Florida

    Tea tree oil did not work for me, but a “dab” of extra virgin, cold processed, coconut oil works great. I have it in the kitchen for cooking. I keep it several places, by filling empty (small) cosmetic jars. I use it morning & night, all around the nail & cuticle…I push my finger into it and it melts on contact, allowing me to distribute it around, either fingers or toes. It takes time, but it works! Note: You have to keep up the treatment several weeks to months after all traces of fungus are gone. But for me the only “side effect,” was softer skin.

  8. dzrlib

    I found that ‘tincture of Iodine’ (not iodide) was VERY effective against toe nail fungus … daubing the nair a few times a week cleared it up within a month.

  9. Susan
    Portland, OR

    Several years ago I read that horsetail rush could be effective against nail fungus. The plant had invaded our property so obtaining it was not a problem. I had a friend who had bad fungus in her fingernails.

    I had no idea what to do with the horsetail. I crammed as much as I could get in a gallon jar and filled it with hot water. I left it to soak for several weeks and gave it to her. She soaked her fingers in it twice a day for 20 to 30 minutes. Within a few weeks she began to see healthy growth of her nails. Eventually all the fungus grew out.

  10. Joan

    I’d like to share a treatment I have just tried for nail fungus. Due to swelling in legs and feet I wear a men’s moccasin type slipper around the house. I think that’s why I got the nasty looking nail fungus. For many years I’ve been using clortrimazol (sp) usually used for athletes foot or jock itch.

    I use it for any rash, like the underbreast rash woman get. When I got the nail fungus I thought to try it on my toenails. I put it on twice a day being sure to rub it into the cuticle well. In a week or less the fungus was gone. I’m of the school of thought to try any kind of remedy that you don’t have to swollen first.

    You can buy clortrimazol at the big online retailer, 5 tube will be under $10. My daughter even used it on her dog foot putting a sock over it to keep him from liking it off.

  11. Gerry

    My grandma’s first remedy for foot and nail problems was stick it in the turpentine barrel. She ran a general store in Memphis TN in the 1930s and 1940s.

  12. Mary

    My foot dr. said there is truth to Vicks Vapor Rub. Putting a dollop onto the toenail at night.

  13. Laura

    I used tea tree oil and lavender oil on my toenail for a couple of months with improvement. Then the skin started to react to these oils, and I used colloidal silver instead. This also lead to improvement, and my toenail is ready to come off with a healthy new nail underneath it.

  14. Hank

    I soak my feet in cornmeal mush from time to time. For me it does work against both plantar warts and toenail fungus. Afterwards I pour the water and mush over my rose bushes to prevent blackspot and other fungus diseases. Multitasking, so to speak.

  15. Sunshine

    I recall reading that in the second WW the soliders were told to put their urine on their feet after showering (or whenever possible) to keep toenails and feet fungus free–old time solution to a current problem that works.

  16. Greg

    I came down with, or just noticed, toenail fungus one year ago (Summer of 2016). I didn’t want to take the prescription option due to risk and expense reasons. Based on what I read about it on this site, The People’s Pharmacy, I bought Vicks Vaporub to see if it would help. I saw clearly visible changes within 3 months and after six months my nails looked completely clear to me (and to my skeptic wife) but as I often work outside in the Sun wearing boots, I decided to keep up the regimen.

    A full year after starting Vicks Vaporub treatment I am unquestionably fungus free and I use it now only on days I will be working in the heat outside. To apply it, I take a Q-tip, dip it into the Vicks, as many times as necessary, until I have slathered it over all my toenails being careful to get it well into the sides of the nails as well as under the front. It takes only a minute. As for the cost? I am only on my second 3.3 oz jar of Vicks which costs about $10/jar.

  17. c

    Actually have cured toe nail fungus using amber listerine.
    I take a nail file and file the tops of the nail down a little.
    At my age and being rushed in the am,sometimes forget to put it on the nail. So when it came back on one toe nail, I put a small dish with amber listerine by the toilet area and stick my toe in the listerine as I sit on the throne. In one week you can see the diference. In the toe nail.

  18. Mary
    Raleigh, NC

    I was able to get rid of a toenail fungus using Clove oil. I had been told by my dermatologist that there was no real cure for toenail fungus but if I wanted to he could prescribe a medication that would cost about $1,000 and potentially cause liver damage, but that sometimes it helped get rid of the fungus too. I walked out with the prescription but never filled it.

    I had read about some home remedies and instead of filling the prescription bought a $2.99 bottle of Clove oil from an Indian store and applied it to the afflicted nail (using a q-tip dipped in the oil) once per day before bed. It didn’t smell bad and I figured I had little to lose. Within a few weeks I began to suspect that the nail growing out of the bed was looking like a normal nail.

    I was too afraid to hope at first but sure enough, as the nail continued to grow out it was completely clear of the fungus. Within a few months I had a completely normal nail.

  19. Lorrie

    I had only one nail with fungus and I painted nail liquid bandage over clean nail about every other day and in six months it was gone. The liquid hardens in to a coating.Cheaper than prescription drugs.

  20. Paul
    New Hampshire

    My wife, originally from Bermuda where the humidity is high and temps warm has had various skin fungal infection for years. She was able to clear up her toenail fungus using vicks vaporub.

    It took about 8 months of nightly applications of the vicks but the new nail grew in without being infected. I worked as a retail pharmacist in Bermuda and recommended Vicks for many patients who had fungal infection of the toenail. I personally never had the problem because I never wore shoes or running shoe without socks and I occasionally dusted my shoes with anti fungal powder. Listerine or miconazole cream works on non nail fungal infections fairly well.

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