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Is Vitamin E Oil a Cure for Toenail Fungus?

Many people would love a simple, inexpensive cure for toenail fungus. One reader used topical vitamin E to good effect. What remedies have you tried?
Is Vitamin E Oil a Cure for Toenail Fungus?
Toenail Fungus

Are your toenails lovely, or are they thick, peeling, brown or yellow? If you are happy to hide your toenails (hurray, winter boots!), you might get excited about a cure for toenail fungus. We should caution up front that we don’t think there is one cure for everyone. However, we were pleased to hear from a reader who got a great result by applying vitamin E oil topically.

Vitamin E Oil as a Cure for Toenail Fungus:

Q. I’d like to recommend a cure for toenail fungus: Vitamin E oil. When I first read about it, I thought it would never work. But after using many other things, I tried it, and within two weeks I could see healing.

Here’s what I did. I bought a big bottle of generic vitamin E oil capsules and heated one up with a hair dryer so the oil would flow easily. I used a safety pin to pierce the capsule and squeezed oil onto the base and the top of affected nails morning and evening. After they healed, I kept it up once daily. My nails are perfectly clear now.

History of Vitamin E Oil for Nail Fungus:

A. We first heard about topical vitamin E oil for nail fungus in 1991.

A nurse scolded us for not knowing about this home remedy:

“My doctor noticed my ugly, brown, thickened toenails during a routine physical several years ago. She told me to buy vitamin E capsules. I broke them with a pin and squirted the liquid on the toenail and between the toe and the nail.

“I could feel some kind of reaction happening. My toenails cleared up and the condition has not returned. I am a registered nurse and thought this treatment was worth trying even though it sounded weird.”

Other Readers Have Used This Cure for Toenail Fungus:

Since then, other readers have reported success with topical vitamin E oil for toenail fungus. One dermatologist wrote about a case in which topical application of a 400 IU capsule of vitamin E oil nightly had a rapid, dramatic effect on established toenail fungus (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 1983). 

He concluded:

“Daily topical application of the contents of a vitamin E capsule appears to have resolved a severe, chronic dermatophytosis of the toenails.”

We regret that no dermatology researchers have seen fit to follow up on this. We would love to see studies that show whether or not vitamin E oil can be helpful in fighting nail fungus. (Dermatologists call it onychomycosis, pronounced Oh-nick-oh-my-KO-siss.)

A Word of Warning:

Some people develop contact dermatitis in response to vitamin E oil. We recommend that you test this approach first, cautiously, before applying it to all your toenails.

Nail fungus can be very hard to eradicate. That is why we are somewhat reluctant to hail vitamin E oil as a cure for toenail fungus. Some people respond well to one treatment while others do not. Keep in mind this is also true of prescription medications.

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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. .
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  • Goldsmith S, "Vitamin E and onychomycosis." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 1983.
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