Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Australian Cure for Nail Fungus

Nail fungus can be quite difficult to eradicate, but tea tree oil, Melaleuca alternifolia, is an Australian cure that can help.

Nail fungus is not normally dangerous, but it can be embarrassing. Fungus makes nails thick and discolored. You might have trouble trimming a fungus-infected toenail. Could an Australian cure make a difference?

Trouble with Toenail Fungus:

Q. I had a problem with toenail fungus and asked my doctor for a cure. He just said not to worry, as the nails would eventually fall off.

I realized that professional nail technicians in beauty shops must deal with this problem all the time. Consequently, I asked my manicurist to recommend something.

She recommended an Australian cure: 100% pure tea tree oil. She said to paint the affected nail once or twice a day. It kills the fungus. I used it for about six months because toenails take so long to grow in. The fungus is definitely gone!

I have since read that tea tree oil is a natural astringent and good for minor cuts, insect bites and athlete’s foot.

The Australian Cure:

A. Tea tree oil is extracted from an Australian tree called Melaleuca alternifolia. Research has demonstrated that this herbal oil has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity. One study found that tea tree oil is active against a common nail fungus pathogen, Trichophyton rubrum (Flores et al, Mycopathologia, April 2013).

Readers Report:

Another reader shared this testimonial:

“I am a massage therapist and have to wash my hands repeatedly throughout the day. As a result, my fingertips split and become very painful.

“I find that applying tea tree oil to the splits helps them heal fast, in a few days. They take much longer to heal when just treated with moisturizers.”

Combination of Remedies for Toenail Fungus:

We received the following (long) message from a reader who has tried a combination approach (including tea tree oil). As you will discover, this requires patience, but it can be worthwhile if you stick with it:

“My home treatment of toenail fungus has been going on for about 16 weeks.

“I finally started using the regimen of soaking my feet about 3 times a week in a square Rubbermaid dish bucket of hot bath water, Epsom Salt and White Vinegar. Within the first two months, I began creating a blend from hot water and generic Apple Cider Vinegar. Then I began to incorporate the hot water and ACV with original amber-colored Listerine (I would use rough equivalents to a cup of ACV and a cup of Listerine). Also, I throw out my mixture after every use, I don’t keep it around for a week. My reasoning for throwing out my foot soak blend every time is not based on science, it is based on my phobia of germs associated with the feet.

“With respect to how long I would soak my feet, I probably began with 30 minutes once I changed to using ACV and Listerine as a combo-blend (made this change after reading reader remarks on the People’s Pharmacy website). The time of soaking has since been lengthened to 40 minute soaks, and now I am pretty regularly soaking for a target of 50 minutes in the hot water/ACV/original formula Listerine blend. Have recently soaked for one hour increments in the past week. Soak for however long you feel works for you and your schedule.

How Well Did This Regimen Work:

“Progress? It is now July 15, 2013. I know I started in the first week of March 2013. It has now been a pretty disciplined four months of treatment and I can see progress. I am not cured, just as yet, but I think I am on a path to having regular looking big toe nails. My toe nails began to develop the fungus back around 1999. In my mind, I am done with living with this fungus any longer. I feel like I am getting my feet back again!

“Two further notes to consider. In the third month of my treatment (I didn’t intentionally time this), after reading other success stories on treating toe fungus without using Lamisil, I began to take a Q-Tip and began applying copious amounts of Vicks Vapo Rub (specifically use this brand) to my infected toe nails, before putting on socks. I usually only wear socks when I absolutely have to wear shoes in the summer (to work, or when exercising, or to go to a function that requires shoes, etc.). I am trying to go barefoot as much as possible to prevent moisture build-up under the nails. As well, in May 2013, I picked up a bottle of Tea Tree Oil (I think any brand will do just fine).

“I don’t have an austere regimen for treating my toes, but when I do have 20 minutes I can set aside I put a little rag under my feet as I sit with my laptop on my desk to do e-mails, etc. I take an eye dropper and simply drop droplets of Tea Tree Oil onto my infected toe nails and typically reapply after ten minutes. I keep my feet in place on the rag for those 20 minutes and let the oil disinfect away (the toenails marinade in the oil), if in fact what I have read is true about Tea Tree Oil, that it is anti-fungal/disinfectant.


“All Ingredients Used during Self-Treatment:

  • – Hot Water soaks
  • – Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for the hot water soaks
  • – Original formula Listerine for the hot water soaks
  • – Vicks VapoRub to apply topically to my toe nails (use a Q-Tip), before putting on socks. (I only use Vicks before putting on socks, never w/o).
  • – Tea Tree Oil (use an eye dropper to drop it topically onto the nail and surrounding area) [This is the Australian cure.]
  • – Epsom Salt (used this in my early hot water soak blend). Haven’t used since incorporating Listerine and ACV as a blend.

“I have considerable progress to report. I think the process is working (it takes much patience and lots of time. LOTS of time). I also think I need a few more months to get to a complete healing of the nails.

“Keep it up!”

Should you wish to learn more about a variety of natural approaches to combatting nail fungus (from corn meal mush to hydrogen peroxide) we suggest The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. It is filled with common-sense practical approaches to dozens of ailments.

Revised 5-15-2017

Rate this article
4.3- 41 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.