The People's Perspective on Medicine

Getting Rid Of Toenail Fungus

Q. My husband’s toenail fungus was terrible. I read your article about using vinegar and water to heal the fungus. My husband started this treatment a few months ago, soaking his feet almost every night. The toenails on one foot are completely healed and the other foot only has one toenail left that is affected. Thanks for such good advice.

A. Soaking the feet nightly in a solution of one part vinegar to two parts water is a remedy that seems to help many people fight off nail fungus. It takes patience, since the nail has to grow out fungus free. That may take many months.

If vinegar soaks do not help, there are a number of other home remedies that can be helpful, such as applications of tea tree oil, vitamin E oil, rubbing alcohol and iodine.

For those with hard-to-treat nail fungus we offer our Guide to Hair and Nail Care with more details and a way to dissolve diseased nails without surgery.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I had the idea of mixing together home and over-the-counter treatments, and wrapping my feet with it in Saran Wrap. I warmed up (melted) vics vaporub (or no-name brands seem to work too) with tinactin powder. I wrap my feet at night in Saran Wrap and then wash them off, and mist with vinegar in the morning. So far so good. My very thick, yellow/back toenails seem to be seeing the light of day. I do keep filing down the softened material each night or when I have the time. Might be worth others trying this out.

I have recently started using a 50:50 ratio of cider vinegar and listerine (the original one) I can see it starting to work already and I’ve had this since I was 18 and I’m now 34.

Naomi, I saw your post and noticed the date was some time ago. I wondered if you kept up your treatment plan and what the final result was.

I am suffering from a toe nail fungus but and along with that my feet sweat and smell I have tried everything and nothing helps can somebody plz help?? I am currently taking terbafine tableta and also propantheline
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: You will find several recommendations for foot soaks to solve this problem (baking soda, Listerine, or vinegar) at

hi Naomi, i have a question when it comes to clipping your toenails is there a specific way to do it or do you just clip them normally?

Can you provide more info on fungus removable, by home remedy.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We have lots of home remedies that may help in our Guide to Hair and Nails.

How long should you soak your feet Cb?

Soak your feet in urine once a day to cure athletes foot and toenail fungus. You’ll be amazed. Oh and shower right after.

I’ve had toe fungus for about a year and a half :( I’m 13 now, and I really want to get rid of it. I’m tired of always having to hide my feet and being insecure. I’m going to camp in about 2 weeks, if there is ANYTHING that can help my toes look normal for camp, It would be greatly appreciated. Please tell me anything that could be used to clear it up in minimumn 2 weeks!

I had a toenail fungus under just one nail, the big toe on one foot and it never spread to the other toes. I tried for probably ten years to get rid of it with no success. Visiting Florida and spending a great deal of time in the water, the nail became loose and was easily removed. I immediately began applying inexpensive, Walgreens Tolnaftate, faithfully every morning and night, soon noticing that the nail was growing back uninfected. I continued to apply this product to the margin where the nail meets the nail bed while the nail grew back and finally after nearly a year, the nail has grown back, is fine and the fungus gone. The key was apparently removing the nail and being able to apply Tolnaftate directly to the nail bed.

I’ve had toenail fungus since middle school. (I’m now 23.) I never wanted to take a pill for it, risking liver problems. It’s just aesthetic, after all. Not worth risking a liver over. Just recently I began researching home remedies and have stumbled across many sites such as this. I combined many of the ideas and now have my own regime.
I soak my foot in pure (not diluted) apple cider vinegar for about 20 minutes per night. I then wash my foot off. (It’s only one one foot.) I then apply a few drops of tea tree oil to a cotton ball, and dab it on each nail. Then I rub athletes foot creme all over my toes, making sure to get around the nail bed area. I’ve been doing this for a few weeks now, and while somewhat labor intensive, it seems to be working. I can see the nail growing pink, reattaching itself, especially on the big toe.
I thought this was something I’d have to live my entire life with, so I’m very pleased. I’ll continue doing what I’ve been doing, and hopefully one day the nails will be completely healthy again. Hope this helps!

The easiest way to get rid of nail fungus is a simple regimen of Irish Spring soap (probably any deodorant bar soap: Dial, Coast, etc) and alcohol. Hands or feet have to be washed multiple times a day with the soap, and it is good to leave a slight amount of the melted soap under the affected nails. Follow with dipping affected (and adjacent) toes or fingers in alcohol (any kind) after washing and drying.
The key is to dry out the fungus, and possibly kill some symbiotic bacteria that are aiding to breakdown the flesh. Most liquid soaps contain moisturizers and those will only increase and spread the problem.
The problem takes at least 1 – 3 months to show improvement.
I have found oils, hydrogen peroxide, paint thinner, and bleach to be ineffective, sometimes, horribly increasing the problem.

I wish I knew a faster way to get rid of toenail fungus. I have been using tea tree oil every day on my feet for a year and it’s taken this long before I finally saw results on my big toe. My nail is almost finally grown out normal and I can go barefoot again without being embarrassed about yellow toenails.

I have a nail fungus on my big toe for over a year, the family doctor didn’t give me anything for it. What would be the quickest way to get rid of it?

There are so many ways to treat fungus by the looks of it. What is the most effective and least time consuming way to go about treating toenail fungus?

A couple of years ago, I decided to try a common sense approach for dealing with my lifelong problem with fungus: blow dry my feet. I always knew moisture was the problem, but I was surprised at just how effective the use use of a simple hair dryer after every shower can be in treating fungus anywhere on your feet.

You can also soak you feet in a ground corn meal and water solution. I’ve tried it. It’s best to do it once a week for 3 to 4 weeks but does work to kill the fungus.

There seem to be lots of remedies for nail fungus and athlete’s foot. Let me share what a Mayo Clinic doctor passed on to me. When in med school, his fellow students were all taking 1,000 IU vitamin E to prevent and cure athlete’s foot. By going on and off it, he convinced himself it does work. For my toenail fungus, which I occasionally pick up if barefoot in grass, I use both the vitamin E 1,000 IU daily and one of the anit-fungal creams from the drug store. I trim the nail back as far as possible so the fungus has no hiding place. Works every time. Until I walk barefoot in grass again.

Read your newspaper article on remedies for athlete’s foot and nail fungus. For the past 50 years, I have used Whitfield’s ointment (mixture of benzoic acid and salicylic acid) to cure periodic athlete’s foot with only one or two applications. I also have nail fungus that was treated with this same ointment by using cotton balls saturated with ointment and put under the nail. It does take a long time but has worked on my toe nails. Unfortunately, it seems pharmacies no longer offer Whitfield’s. I would appreciate any help on locating a source of this ointment.

For faster results, use oregano oil mixed with 20 parts olive oil.

You can order it online from Amazon.

Based on advice from your column about using hydrogen peroxide and Vicks Vaporub to eliminate nail fungus, I decided to try it using Reclaim (which didn’t work by itself). I put a few drops on my thumbnails, let them dry a little (but not totally), then cover the nails with Vicks. Over the next 20 minutes or so (while watching TV), I rub the nails. It takes about 30 minutes for the stuff to disappear. I do this about 3-4 times a week. After 3 months both my thumbnails are clear after three years of discoloration and buckling and cracking! My toenail, which has had fungus for 10 years, is slowly clearing up, too.

Spray Lanacane or Solarcaine on the toenail, it works. It will take a few weeks for the nail to grow off.

My husband, for the first time in decades, is having success growing healthy toenails using the cornmeal paste remedy suggested by another listener.
He had used the Vicks VapoRub suggestion but to not real avail.

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