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Listerine Soaks Proved Effective Against Toenail Fungus

Soaking your feet in old-fashioned amber Listerine is one home remedy our readers love for fighting hard to treat toenail fungus.
Listerine Soaks Proved Effective Against Toenail Fungus

Q. I have had fungus on one of my toes for a long time. I have been to the dermatologist and podiatrist repeatedly and even had the nail removed. I was given strong pills, but they didn’t work. The podiatrist does not understand why the infection persists.

I started searching desperately for other things that might help and read about Listerine. This has given me the best results so far. The infection is almost gone, the nail has its nice pink color again and it is not sore. Hooray!

A. Soaking an infected nail in amber Listerine alone or mixed 50/50 with white vinegar is a favorite remedy for toenail fungus. You will need patience, since it takes months for toenails to grow out. The good news is that this remedy is neither difficult nor expensive.

You will find many other home remedies for nail fungus in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care.

Other Readers Share Their Experience:

Other readers have also reported on their experience. One, writing under the name Diocletian, gave this lengthy report on using Listerine and vinegar:

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. I evolved within the first two months into creating a blend from the hot water, a big bottle of generic Apple Cider Vinegar (buy AC at your local grocer, NOT Bragg’s, because I don’t have much money). Then I began to incorporate the hot water and ACV with original 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.

How Long to Soak?

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.

Progress? I write this on 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. I have seen good 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!

Adding Vicks VapoRub:

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 VapoRub (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
  • Vick’s Vapo Rub to apply topically to my toe nails (use a Q-Tip), before putting on socks. (I only use Vick’s before putting on socks, never w/o).
  • Tea Tree Oil (use an eye dropper to drop whatever amount you prefer topically onto the nail and surrounding area.
  • Epsom Salt (used this in my early hot water soak blend). Haven’t used since incorporating Listerine and ACV as a blend.

Progress? Yes, 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.

You can report your own experience below in our comment section. Have you tried Listerine soaks? How did they work for you? Do you have other favorite toenail fungus home remedies?

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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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