ballerina on her toes

Nail fungus is very common, affecting toenails more often than fingernails. Thirty years ago or so, doctors often advised their patients to ignore toenail fungus. They would point out that, although they look ugly, infected toenails are rarely harmful. Yet many people still would like to have fungus-free toenails, and in the intervening years, drug companies have developed quite a few medications to treat the problem. Sometimes they work; sometimes, however, people have just as much luck with a home remedy.

Staying on Your Toes:

Q. I am a former dancer who spent a lot of time on pointe. Most of us damaged our nail beds and developed nail fungus.

Living in Florida, I was ashamed to wear sandals because of my nasty nails. I had tried prescription pills and many topicals with no lasting results. I started applying Vicks VapoRub twice a day, and in a few months, I started seeing healthy nails. Years later, my toenails still look great and are still fungus-free.

Vicks for Fungus-Free Toenails:

A. Vicks VapoRub contains camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil. Researchers have found that camphor, menthol, thymol and oil of lemon eucalyptus are effective against a range of organisms that can cause toenail fungus (Ramsewak et al, Phytotherapy Research, April 2003). That might help explain your success.

There has even been a small clinical trial of Vicks VapoRub for nail fungus. The investigators reported that 15 of 18 volunteers got benefit (Derby et al, Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Jan-Feb. 2011).  Nurses caring for people with AIDS have suggested that this treatment option could be cost-effective for their patients with nail fungus (Snell et al, Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Jan-Feb. 2016).

Other Nail Fungus Remedies:

There are a number of other unconventional home remedies that people have used to clear the fungus from their nails. They include soaking the toes in an apple cider vinegar solution, splashing hydrogen peroxide on the nails daily or even applying a liniment containing hot pepper.

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  1. Pat

    My nails have gotten stronger by using evening primrose supplements, a brand with no additives. I take maybe 2 or 3 in the morning or sometime during the day.

  2. Frankie

    I think that toenail fungus is something internal. I have tried all of the remedies and had some success. I have used the pharmaceutical method also, and it worked. The damage done to my liver is not worth that, and it came back. I am currently using Lomatium (internally), 80 drops divided in two doses, and I vary the oils and ointments. Finally, I cut the carbs and sugars also. Cut the food off for the fungus. I am certain that is what causes it. I also have over the years changed my diet and was successful, but once the diet goes away the fungi return. So I guess what I am saying is that to permanently disable it, you have to quit feeding it, then the oils and ointments topically can and will keep it in check.

  3. Marie

    I’ve struggled with toenail fungus for years and tried many treatments: medication, Vicks, Tea Tree oil, etc., etc. I also had 2 toenails removed. My nails looked better after another round of med., except for two.

    I started using oils and made up a mixture that WORKS! Equal amounts of oregano, tea tree, lavender, and coconut oil. I apply this every AM to the 2 nails and then cover those two and all the rest of my nails with a thick cover of Vicks. I feel that the Vicks keeps the oils on the toe plus assists the healing and keeps my good nails from getting the fungus again. One of the nails has grown out and looks great. :)

  4. Rita A

    Does this help for fingernails that peel and chip all the time? I used to have nice hard nails easy to grow and never used acrylic nails, rarely had a professional manicure. These last 3 years my nails peel break split etc. I’ve tried biotin. Didn’t make any difference. Sometimes I use “nail aide”, clear but not much help. I try to moisture nails and cuticles with cream and sometimes vitE, open gel pill and apply. Any remedies????

  5. Tammy
    Portland, OR

    Applying oil of oregano directly to the fungus infected toenail is suppose to help. Oil of oregano is a strong antifungal oil. You may need to apply it for a couple of months before it completely goes away.

  6. C

    I have heard Teatree oil (Melaleuca) is helpful in treating foot problems. Not sure of all the benefits. Has this been tested for toenail fungus?

  7. Jim

    I cleared my toenail fungus up with tamanu oil in about 6 mos. Dermatologist was amazed when I went back for a follow-up appointment.

  8. HEIDE
    Delray Beach, FL

    I had my knee replaced in September and used Vitamin E oil on the scar which did wonders for the scar. While doing so I decided to put some oil under the big toenail. The fungus under that toenail started to disappear as the toenail grew out. I had heard using Vitamin E oil applied under the nail over 25 years ago for toenail fungus on one of the Graedon’s radio shows so I tried it now, and voila IT WORKS.

  9. paulie

    Batadintine painted on daily seems to have solved my nail fungus. Mostly whatever works for you takes time. Toenails are slow growers so it takes time and patience to see results. if one thing does not work for you. Don’t give up keep trying to find a solution. Fungus anywhere on the body is a negative and you should work to eliminate it.

  10. Paman

    I tried and had success by using light applications of Neosporin on my toe fungus. It worked quickly and nails is growing slowly with no sign of fungus.

  11. Carole
    Sydney, Australia

    It works, but patient compliance as in all nail treatments, is a problem.
    To be effective ANY topical nail treatment must be applied daily, and most people either can’t be bothered or can’t remember. Both Listerine and Vicks contain Thymol, which is a potent anti-fungal agent.
    Please forget that the spores of the fungi remain in their shoes and socks. Burn the socks, canestan spray inside the shoes expose to sunlight. New socks and hot washing (over 65C) of bed linen and bleach washing of floors. clear freakery is essential.

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