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

Are you embarrassed to go barefoot at the beach or even in your own backyard? This is the time of year when people often kick off their shoes to cool down. Sandals or flip-flops have become everyday wear in the summer.

The only trouble with baring your tootsies is that everyone can see your toenails. If you have a fungal infection, your nails may be thick, yellow, crumbly and misshapen. They will not be pretty.

Prescriptions for Toenail Fungus:

What can be done about nail fungus? Doctors can prescribe antifungal medications to treat the condition. The most popular drugs for toenail fungus these days are topical prescription solutions such as efinaconazole (Jublia) or tavaborole (Kerydin).

One drawback of such medications is that they are not all that effective to cure toenail fungus. Daily applications for nearly a year resulted in a complete cure for 6.5 to 9.1 percent of patients using Kerydin and 15.2 to 17.8 percent of patients using Jublia.

Another is that a prescription can be quite pricey, running to hundreds of dollars a bottle. Usually a year of treatment will require multiple bottles of solution. Some insurance policies do not cover these treatments.

Physicians might choose instead to prescribe oral medicines such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or itraconazole (Sporanox). These work significantly better than placebo pills, but they must be taken for extended periods. Moreover, they may have side effects such as digestive distress, headache and susceptibility to infection (Kreijkamp-Kaspers et al, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, July 14, 2017). Liver damage is also a possible complication.

Lasers to Cure Toenail Fungus?

Dermatologists are now offering non-thermal laser treatment to cure toenail fungus (Zang, Sullivan & Shanks, Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, May 2017). While this appears to work for some patients, not all studies confirm its effectiveness (Carney et al, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Oct. 2013).  Treatment often requires more than one session and insurance may not cover the hundreds of dollars charged.

Can Home Remedies Cure Toenail Fungus?

People who cannot afford pricey procedures or prescriptions sometimes turn to home remedies. Health professionals are usually skeptical about such unproven treatments. Nonetheless, many readers have reported success with inexpensive or unorthodox approaches.

Vicks VapoRub for Toenails:

Two of the most affordable and popular remedies involve old-fashioned OTC products. Vicks VapoRub has even been tested. A small study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (Jan-Feb, 2011) showed that 15 out of 18 participants got benefit from daily applications of Vicks to their fungus-infected toenails.

Rebecca shared her story:

“I fought toe nail fungus on my big toes for years. This has been with me for over 20 years and I began fighting it in earnest about 9 years ago. At first, I used tea tree oil twice a day for several years. My nail would look cured but then, within a few days, the fungus would show up and run over much of the nail. So I would start the whole process over again.

“Then I tried Listerine-soaking my nails for several minutes twice a day. That never worked. I guess you must soak for a longer time (which I just didn’t have the time for), or possibly this just doesn’t work on my fungus.

“Last winter I decided to try Vicks Vapor Rub. I could push the ointment under the nail twice a day. This time, I think I have really cured the fungus. I have not seen any indication that it still exists for over 3 months. But, I still keep checking and using the Vicks since I was surprised and disappointed so many times with the tea tree oil.”

Listerine for Nail Fungus:

Amber Listerine contains a number of ingredients with antifungal activity. Many readers have found that soaking their feet in a solution of white vinegar and Listerine (50/50) can cure toenail fungus. This approach requires patience, however. Eradicating fungus can take up to a year.

Serena is hopeful about this approach:

“I’ve been using the vinegar/Listerine mixture on my feet now for a month. It is working beautifully.

“I got toenail fungus from a nail salon, and have had it for over 3 years. This is the only thing that has even touched the fungus (I’ve done tea-tree oil, Vicks VapoRub, and painted some of everything on my toes religiously).

“My nail is now finally growing back normally and the fungus has turned white (from greenish-brown) and the toenail is no longer spongy. I’ll be able to wear sandals without bandaids very soon!

“Not only is Listerine/vinegar good for the toenails, but my feet have never looked better – the cracks and redness have disappeared. I soak my feet every night for 15-30 minutes. And I’m going to continue doing this until my toenails have completely grown out, at least 3 times per week.”

Other Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus:

Other remedies include soaking the feet in a mixture of cornmeal and warm water or scrubbing the nails with dandruff shampoo in the shower. Many people have found that applying hydrogen peroxide, white iodine or tea tree oil to the affected nails can help control toenail fungus. You can learn more about these and other inexpensive options from our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. TD

    I have had toenail fungus for years and have spent a lot of diligent time trying to cure it naturally. The only success I had was when I lost a nail from my tight ski boot so I took the time to soak it in vinegar every night. It grew back clear and healthy and I got lazy with it and it eventually got infected again. I started with 2 infected nails 20 yrs ago, I now have 5. My treatment history has been Vinegar soaks, Epsom salt soaks, listerene soaks, vicks, tea tree oil, oregano oil, expensive laser treatments…..and I am talking months of structured treatments.

    My latest experiment was to work on the inside so I did an intense candida cleanse (4 months ago) for one month and have had a healthy diet since, I also took probiotics, and antifungal supplements to help the process along. I have had no luck and am extremely disappointed after all of my hard work over the years. I finally gave up the fight and went to the Dr last week and asked for Lamisil, I am on day 5 and no side effects so far so I am feeling hopeful. I am determined to have pretty toes this summer!

    I know that different things work for different people but I hope that this is the final treatment for me. I wish all of you success in whatever you try!

  2. Mike

    I found the cure! My toe was about 90% infected. I have tried everything in the book for years, and nothing has ever worked. I recently started applying a brand name advanced whitening toothpaste, alternating with tea tree oil. It has been 3 months, and my nail has grown in healthy to about 75%. The toothpaste was a bit harsh on the skin in the beginning but it got better over time. I applied the toothpaste daily to the entire nail making sure to get in every little nook, and underneath the nail. I would scrub it with a brush in the shower, then apply tea tree oil. In the mornings I would apply the toothpaste before putting on my socks. Let’s see if anyone else has great results!

  3. Faith

    Unfortunately, after developing genetic diabetes, I also developed toenail fungus only on my right big toe. I’ve tried all the home remedies with no luck. I know it is related to my diabetes (which is well controlled) so it is a metabolic problem.

    Do any of the commenters above have diabetes? It feels like a losing battle no matter what I do. Any advice would be helpful but only from those who also have diabetes please. I’ve done it all- Vicks, tea tree oil, vinegar and Listerine mixed with cornmeal, etc…and I won’t waste my money on prescriptions or destroy my liver with Lamisil. Thanks in advance…

  4. sherry

    I’ve had fungus under my toenails for years. OTC ointments didn’t work. Vicks might work if it wasn’t so messy (at the time I tried it, I wore dress shoes to work with nylons – it ruined more than one pair of shoes).

    I bought a heated footbath and keep it filled with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 yellow listerine. Then I sit for about 30 minutes reading a book with my feet in the footbath. Seems to be working fine and the cracks in my heels have also gone away.

  5. Gale V

    I have had a nail fungus, ( two fingers on my right hand and two fingers on my left hand ) for almost 3 years. In that time I tried applications of tea tree oil twice-daily, 2 fungal salves my doctor prescribed, and I was seriously considering taking the standard oral drug. I am 78 years old and had great hesitation about the toxicity of this medication. At my last visit in mid-may he gave me a sample of Jublia. I decided to give that a try as I still was hesitant about the oral medication.

    Well, about three months have gone by and I see a definite Improvement heading towards a cure. The nail beds have started to grow in pink and attached and the old nail is growing out. I wish I could put pictures in here because it’s so very clear when you compare photos of before and now. The Jublia is so expensive. Even with Medicare and my drug plan I still had to pay about $450 for an 8 oz bottle. However, things are working nicely and I expect I will only have to buy these little 8 oz bottles twice before the entire nail grows in.

  6. bird teacher
    Knoxville Tn

    I had fingernail fungus for five years that undoubtedly I got from a nail salon. It got worse and worse, even though I tried home solutions, such as the ones suggested above. I was miserable because I love nail polish (hence, going to the nail salon). Finally my dermatologist cultured it and he reluctantly prescribed Exelderm for it. It was expensive even with my insurance; my copay was $50. I had to apply it twice a day to the nail, where it grows out. I didn’t understand that at first and so I applied it to the nail tips where the fungus grows. My pharmacist is the one who told me where to apply it. Bingo, within a year, it was gone on every nail. I could send you before and after picks. Exelderm worked for me. It is a a very lengthy process to get rid of nail fungus.

  7. Gary

    I’ve used hydrogen peroxide for both finger and toe nail fungus and is very effective. Pour full strength peroxide into a bowl. Put to affected nail in the bowl and use a tooth brush to get the peroxide under the nail. Results in a couple of weeks. I do it daily for a few days.
    Gary D

  8. dzrlib

    I found that ‘dark’ tincture of Iodine (not Iodide) was very effective in treating toe nail fungus.

  9. Heidi

    I have longstanding fungus on both big toes and a couple of smaller toes. I used Kerydin for more than a year with only limited success. Before the Kerydin, I also tried Vicks, Listerine soaks, and tea tree oil, all of which improved the situation but did not resolve it. Right now, I’m trying cornmeal soaks with better progress than any other method I’ve tried. After about four months of weekly soaks, the small nails look completely normal. One big toenail looks pretty close to normal and the other is only discolored near the top and a little on the sides. I cover the bottom of a plastic box with a thin layer of white corn meal then just cover that with water and let it soak for an hour. Then I soak my feet in it for an hour.

  10. mary

    V for Vicks vapor rub and victory. Apply morning and evening.

  11. mary
    scarborough, ontario

    It’s wonderful Vicks vapor rub. I have been putting it on my toe nails and in between the toes. My nails look so good. I have been using cures for many years with no lasting results. My infected big toe nails look normal now. I started months ago so my nails would look good for my cruise this September. Vicks vapor rub works. You must apply every day before bed and after showering in the morning. V for Vicks and victory!

  12. Jan

    I am using Vicks now. Years ago, I succeeded in getting rid of toe nail fungus by applying Vitamin E oil at night and soaking my foot in vinegar water for 15 to 30 minutes in the a.m. I didn’t feel I had the time to soak at this point, but I remembered the 50% vinegar/50% rubbing alcohol solution that I use in my ears to avoid swim ear and put that on after my shower in the morning. The Vicks at night, alcohol/vinegar mixture before I head off to work definitely seems to be working.

  13. Harimau

    Sorry this a a different chapter. After visiting the dermatologist, he diagnosed my scalp as psiorasis of the scalp. Now it is affecting my fingernails and I assume the rest is coming. The prescription is pricey but of not much effect. Any latest development in the cure?

  14. Ginny

    I had toenail fungus for a few years. I took a 4ounce spray bottle and filled it it with hydrogen peroxide. Everyday after showering I would dry my feet and then spray my toes with the hydrogen peroxide. I let my feet air dry after spraying. After about three months I started to notice a difference in my toenails. I have been spraying my feet each day for the past two years and I have no problems with toe fungus. Hope this helps someone,

  15. Daisy Mae

    I’ve had a problem with toenail fungus for years. I’ve used tea tree oil and vicks vaporub without success from either. Perhaps I’m not tenacious enough for success.

  16. Gregg
    Clearwater, FL

    I have found that phototherapy can kill toenail fungus. Buy a phototherapy device (typically >$100) that has red and/or infrared LEDs, and shine it next to the nail for about 20 minutes once or twice a day until the fungus disappears. You may have to use the phototherapy device periodically afterward to prevent the fungus from returning.

    A powerful red/IR LED-type phototherapy device can be as effective as a low-power laser, the kind that podiatrists use to kill toenail fungus–but that requires many expensive sessions.

    Once you have bought the phototherapy device, you can use it for years, so you more than get your money back by not having to otherwise pay for expensive or toxic therapies. Plus, you can also use the device to accelerate healing of skin cuts and other wounds, insect bites, and to reduce joint pain. There are hundreds of scientific studies validating the efficacy of red and IR LED phototherapy for a number of maladies. To find them, just do a Google search: red + infrared + LEDs + phototherapy.

  17. Janet
    Dallas, TX

    I’ve never seen this mentioned but I assume al of these possible remedies must be applied to bare nails, that is ones without any kind of polish, right? if so, I think this should be mentioned.

    • Deborah L Cyrel

      Do you have a name for the device you’ve recommended for phototherapy? I can’t seem to find one that is specifically like what you’re talking about.

  18. Rob
    Woodstock, GA

    I’ve had toe nail fungus for 20 years and have tried most of the common home and supplement treatments without success. Didn’t try the prescription treatments because I did’t hear any success stories.
    Then one day my chiropractor told me something that made sense.
    “If you have toenail fungus, then the fungus is through out your body and doing localized treatment only kills it off locally until it returns.” So I looked for whole-body fungus treatment and came across “ionized silver” (not colloidal silver) that treats all kinds of diseases. I bought some on line and am taking a teaspoon daily by mouth. It is slow, but looks like my toenails are recovering. Probably take close to a year to fully grow out. Then we’ll see if the fungus stays away. RR

  19. Janet
    Roanoke, VA

    My husband soaked in that Listerine/vinegar for 14 months with no help at all. He is now trying the Vaporub and hope it works. We use the same bathroom, barefoot so yes, he’s given it to me. I just try to keep my feet clean and being 80, see a podiatrist to cut my nails way down. Figure we just gotta live with it!

  20. Jim

    I had toenail fungus on both feet and was prescribed Jublia. Took the Rx to the pharmacy and was told the co-pay was $400! I had read on a news website that tamanu oil was effective for toenail fungus so gave it a try. At $15/bottle I figured what the heck, if it didn’t work I wasn’t out that much.

    After about six months the toenail fungus was gone and has not come back on that toe. The dermatologist was also amazed. She had taken a picture of the toe at my visit in December 2015 and I had a follow up visit six months later for something else she wanted to look at. She asked about the toe and when I showed her she could not believe it. I told her I would squirt some of the oil on a band aide and wrap it around my toe so that the oil would always be in contact with the toenail. Voila, no fungus.

    She mentioned that she was going to study the oil and maybe incorporate it into her protocol for other patients if it looked promising. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Have used the oil on the other big toe with similar success.

    • Jacalyn MD
      West St Paul, MN

      Do you know how sick you would be with a systemic fungal infection? People who have a broken down immune system get these terrible life threatening diseases. Just imagine if you had fungus floating in your blood stream. Your heart valves would quickly be peppered with fungus. This eventually would lead to death if untreated.
      The reason your toenails have fungus is that the blood supply to the toenails is very small; therefore, your own immune system doesn’t rid you of the infection. The lowered blood supply is also the reason why giving an antibiotic that is antifungal may not work very well. That is the reason also why an antifungal must be given for a longer time when treating toenail fungus.
      I do not know anything about the silver treatment but I just want you to understand that unless you have some immune deficiency you are just treating your nails.

  21. Christine K.
    WI - Wisconsin

    I had a persistent nail fungus of my left big toe many years ago, which had reduced my nail to a triangle and made the toe look deformed. I thought it was a goner. I finally heard about a manicurist who worked with these. I went to her, and she soaked my feet in vinegar water: about a quart of vinegar to a dishpan of water. I would soak for about 20 minutes, and then she would give me a pedicure, clipping that toenail as much as she could. I continued the treatments at home, and once a month I would go back to her for the same procedure. After a relatively short time, maybe 6-8 months, the toenail was back and perfect…and still is.

  22. Mat R.

    Vicks VRub don’t work for me but it may work for others.

  23. nadia

    Wow this is amazing I didn’t know that vicks vapour rub can cure toenail fungus my uncle has toenail fungus I will tell him to try vicks vapour rub thank you for this wonderful news letter containing so many wonderful home remedies.

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