The People's Perspective on Medicine

Why Does Vicks VapoRub Help Against Some Nail Fungus & Not Others?

Vicks VapoRub is one of many different home remedies that may be effective for fighting unattractive nail fungus.

Home remedies are rarely studied in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. As a result, we don’t often have scientific research to show how well-or not-they may work. It is unusual for us to have a solid explanation for the success of certain popular home remedies. One example is the use of Vicks VapoRub for toenail fungus.

Fighting Toenail Fungus:

Q. I have lived with a fungus infection of one big toenail for several years. I tried various over-the-counter remedies with no success.

I read the following article in the “CR Health” department of the March, 2006 issue of Consumer Reports magazine:

“Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up the notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months…”

I purchased a tube of Vicks Greaseless Cream VapoRub in mid-February, and have applied it morning and evening to the affected toenail. I use only a small amount, enough to scrape off my finger under the front of the nail and around the cuticle.

To my immense gratification, IT WORKS! (At least for me.) After six weeks of use, the nail has lost most of its previous black color and is showing about a quarter of an inch of fresh, healthy-looking nail coming out of the cuticle as the nail grows. It’s worth trying – nowhere near as expensive as the ineffective stuff they sell for the purpose!

How Well Does Vicks VapoRub Work?

A. Over the years we have heard from many people who have had success with Vicks VapoRub in the treatment of nail fungus. You will read some of their stories below. Others tell us this remedy is totally worthless.

That is not surprising. Many people report failure with pricey prescription anti-fungal products too. Some people spend quite a bit of money on oral antifungal medicine and take it for many months, only to have the fungus return after a temporary “cure.”

It seems as if nail fungus is surprisingly variable. This may be due both to the range of fungal pathogens that can affect nails and to differences among the hosts’ immune systems. Some people never get nail fungus even though they walk barefoot in the garden, in the shower or at a locker room. Others find all their toenails are thick, yellowish-brown and misshapen. Not only do they look ugly but they are hard to clip. One treatment may work for awhile, but the fungus seems to come back relentlessly.

We often wonder whether there are different fungi at work or if the relationship between the immune system and the fungi have something to do with this problem.

The Research on Vicks for Nail Fungus:

As for Vicks VapoRub, there actually have been a few studies showing benefit against nail fungus. In one, people with AIDS (whose immune systems do not function well) had their nail fungus treated with Vicks. The conclusion: safe and effective (Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, Jan-Feb., 2016).

Previously, a pilot study had shown results in 15 out of 18 people using Vicks VapoRub on the nails daily for 48 weeks (Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Jan-Feb., 2011). Even before that, a study of some of the essential oils in Vicks VapoRub showed that they are active against five different species of fungus that infect nail tissue (Phytotherapy Research, April, 2003). Camphor, menthol, thymol and oil of eucalyptus are effective against these organisms.

Other Home Remedies for Nail Fungus:

There are many different home remedies against nail fungus. You can read about them in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies: Q&As for Your Common Ailments.

Stories and Experiences from Readers over the Years:

Tom N. touts the house brand at lower cost:

“My solution was simple and no fuss. I rubbed Walmart housebrand version of VapoRub (1/3 cost of Vicks) on toenail, uncovered, each night before retiring. After 5 months the fungus has grown out the end of the nail.

“Disclosure: I am not a shill for Walmart….”

We have no opinion as to the quality of generic Vicks VapoRub. The relatively low cost of either the name brand or the house brand does not make this a big issue for us. Keep in mind that a jar will last a long time, even with daily applications.

Vagisil for Nail Fungus?

Jim P. offers a different option–a vaginal anti-itch product:

“On a radio show years ago, Joe or Terry mentioned that resorcinol was an anti-fungal. This is the active ingredient in Vagisil (and store brands).

“So I tried it on my toenail fungus. The results were equal to Vicks VapoRub (complete cure on 3 nails, partial on 1), but the nail surface was smoother and more normal-looking. All I do is rub Vagisil into the affected nails and nail bed once a day after my shower. 30 seconds once a day is all it takes, and there’s no odor or greasy residue.

“Note – you won’t clear up existing fungus; you have to wait for new nail growth to see the difference. (I tried a weak tea tree oil lotion years ago, and all the fungus grew back. I haven’t tried a 100% tea tree oil.)”

Resorcinol has been around for more than 150 years. It has been used topically as an antiseptic and to treat a variety of skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema and acne. Not surprisingly, it has antifungal activity, which might account for why it could be useful against nail fungus.

Amber Listerine & White Vinegar:

Jen says Listerine and vinegar are her go-to solution:

“I used tea tree oil faithfully for several years with some improvement. Also oregano oil, recommended as stronger than tea tree oil – and quite expensive. Again, some improvement. I tried the Vicks with socks at night, but I don’t like sleeping with socks.

“Then I began one hour per week of soaking in water with lots of white vinegar. I had immediate success – the fungus cleared almost completely and quickly.

“Since then I have continued the weekly soaks with vinegar and the amber Listerine and no water – one hour while sitting at the computer. I wonder if there is more than one kind of fungus since the tea tree oil was only somewhat successful, while the vinegar was much better for me. If there is more than one kind of fungus, that would explain why different strokes for different folks seems to be a key factor.

“Incidentally, the weeds in my garden do not like vinegar so I just dump my used soaking mixture there – I have lots of weeds to use it on! And it works.”

We have lost count of the number of people who insist that when all else fails, white vinegar and Listerine foot soaks do the job. We are not surprised. Listerine has a good dose of alcohol and other ingredients that attack fungi.

Vinegar also makes the environment inhospitable to fungi. It does take the kind of patience that Jen describes to work the magic.

Cornmeal Mush Foot Soaks:

K.B. offers one of the stranger home remedies we keep hearing about. His baggie trick is quite clever:

“Regarding the cornmeal treatment: I read about it on this website perhaps two years ago, but, at that time, there were no specific instructions as to usage, so I devised my own, and had great success in approximately six weeks.

“I half-filled a ziploc baggie with corn meal, and as I read or applied makeup or watched television, I placed my foot into the bag so that my afflicted nail was submerged into the dry cornmeal. I would do that twice a day for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

“For housekeeping purposes, one would need a towel so that foot could be free of cornmeal when finished with treatment. The results were miraculous, and this was such a simple remedy after years of having this unsightly nail, and even visiting dermatologist for prescriptions that did not work. The healthy condition has been maintained without cornmeal.

“I tell everyone about your website and your Saturday morning program on NPR as you truly stay abreast of so many things. of course, we all read your weekly column also.”

K.B.’s innovative approach is quite different from anything we have heard when it comes to cornmeal. The more typical remedy is to make a cornmeal batter. Here is one example:

Larry loves cornmeal mush. We are still astonished that it could work SO fast. It kind of defies logic, but hey, there’s not much to lose giving it a try:

“When examining me my doctor noticed that I had nail fungus affecting toes on each foot.  He recommended that I make a batter by mixing cornmeal and water, let it sit for an hour, and then using a shallow pan, soak my feet for an hour.  He told me to do this once a week for a month.  If the fungus was not gone, I was supposed to apply Vicks Vaporub once a week for a month.

I did the cornmeal therapy for three week and the fungus was gone. I don’t know why it works, but it’s cheap, harmless, and it worked for me.”

We make no promises about any nail fungus remedy. What works for Larry may not work for Sue or Henry or Mary. You will have to experiment to discover the best approach for you. Don’t forget to check out our books and guides with more specific instructions about lots of home remedies. Here is a link.

Please share your own experience in the fight against nail fungus in the comment section below.

Revised 2/9/17

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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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Soaking some cotton balls in Listerine and placing them on the infected nails, followed by smearing Vicks on them worked like a charm. Took about 6 months, and it’s been 2.5 years and the fungus has not come back. I rub my toes and feet with Vicks about once a week as a preventative measure.

I’ve had toenail fungus since I was about 15 (my parents had it and passed it on to me). I’ve tried using vicks in the past but never stuck with it long enough. That won’t happen this time. I’m tired of never wearing sandals and curling my big toe in embarrassment on the rare occasion im barefoot around someone. This is what I do: 1. Keep my toenail clipped back as short as I can. 2. I use a nail buffer (the small pointed metal attavhment) and run it under my toe to clean out gunk and dead skin. 3. Then I apply vicks to the entire nail (top, under the nail, cuticle, surrounding skin). I apply vicks as often daily as I can remember. The result? My nail is growing in nearly white. Thickness is minimal. My nail is no longer separated from the bed. It’s probably taken 4 months to get to thismpoint. I hope in the next few months to have an almost clear nail. I could probably hide my nail under polish at this point, but feel the vicks could never penetrate so for now I’ll deal with how it looks (it’s not that embarrassing any,ore). I also occasionally use a dremel to cut the thickness down. Since extreme thickness is no longer an issue just a light buff is needed for a decent looking nail.

Using a Dremel is not wise because if injury occurs then it could make a bad situation worse. The other thing is, use a new emery board every time when filing across the top of the toenail. You can get them cheap in a bundle at the Dollar Store or Sally Beauty.

Make sure you use a clean towel to thoroughly dry off your feet and in-between the toes. Then put that towel in the hamper to be washed. And it is not wise to use toenail polish either because if the spores of the fungus get into the polish, again you will be spreading the fungus on the rest of your nails. Google it. It’s best not to have mani’s or pedi’s.

Besides nail polish is considered hazardous waste where I live and we are not to throw it into the trash. Make sure your bathroom floors and shows and tubs are cleaned too. As for me, I am using a warm water vinegar soak for 20 minutes for both feet and all the toenails, dry off, then file the top of the nails, and “painting” Kerasal on the tops of the nails, which I purchased from Walmart.

I am to do this every other day, at night, for as long as it takes. On another note, fungus may not be completely “cured”. So being diligent about taking care of your nails is vitally important. I tried Vicks Vapo Rub but was not diligent in doing so. But you can bet I will be doing the vinegar & water soak. Vinegar will get rid of most of the spores. The filing of the nails will help get rid of the debris and make the Kerasal be able to penetrate the nail.

Tired of wasting my $ on liquid paint-on products, my one trip to a podiatrist was discouraging, too, since the Rx mentioned would require liver function tests. Why risk liver damage but this has gone on for over 10 years, ugly, embarrassing nails & Who knows the risks to my overall health? So I’m buying Vicks today & will apply each night after vinegar soak has dried. Will send update in a few weeks. I really appreciate this website, thank you!!

I had used vinegar soaks twice a day for 30 minutes for a few weeks and saw absolutely no improvement at all. I tried tea tree oil 4 times a day for a few more weeks and saw no improvement. Then I saw a post concerning Vicks vaporub. I bought a generic brand at Shopper’s. It was fairly cheap. The tea tree oil was not as cheap as I had to apply often and for a long period of time. The Vicks started to work within days. After two weeks there doesn’t seem to be any discolouration. My discolouration was white. I’m going to continue to apply it twice daily once in the morning and put on socks and go about my work. Then before bed at night. I don’t wear socks when I get home —go barefoot and wash my feet as soon as I get home and make sure they are completely dry. I go to bed without socks too just keeping my feet out from under the covers. It’s tricky but I do it. This method has worked for me. I do believe there are numerous strains of fungi. There are also varied immune systems so it isn’t one method fits all. We have to do this through trial and error. I hope this method helps someone else. It was starting to worry me as before the Vicks there were days I thought the fungus was getting worse. Now it looks all better. I intend to continue to apply this for another month or so to be sure it’s gone for good.

Have fungus on big toenails. Doctor took samples and results came back negative!!!
So, used a pharmacy paint for several months with no effect. Have been using emu aid oil and tea tree oil with marginal success. One toenail is improving but the other seems to have a wider area infected. By this I mean discolouration. Am now trying Vicks vapour rub – morning and night and wearing socks at night.
Hate not wearing toenail polish but haven’t for nearly a year.
Hope this will work.

Sue, have you had any improvement since your post? I have had toe nail fungus for about 18 years and have had my toe nails removed so they could grow back correctly and to no avail, of course the fungus has since spread to other home nails. Please let me know if this remedy worked.

It’s important to maintain good hygiene once you get rid of your fungus otherwise it will come back. wash socks in hot water and throw out any old shoes from when you had the fungus or at least spray lysol on the inside of it. Good luck.

Vicks vaporub worked for me. I had left toenail polish on my toes for a long time, and when I finally took it off I had a white/yellow stain across the top half of my big toenail. For a while I half-heartedly tried using Vinegar. I had heard that soaking your feet twice a day could help with toenail fungus, but who really has time to do that every day? Eventually I decided to try using Vicks Vaporub. Actually, I just got the cheaper knockoff brand.

I started applying it to my nail twice a day with a q-tip and covering it with a bandaid. I swear even after one night it looked a little better. Still yellow, but less white so it was less noticeable. I’ve been using it for a few months now, and the fungus is almost completely gone. After a couple of months the colored area of the nail started flaking off. Kinda gross, but I pulled the pieces off and underneath was a healthy looking nail. It’s still a little discolored at the very top, but it’s barely noticeable. That part should grow out soon. I wish I had taken before, during, and after pictures. I’m usually skeptical about things like this but it’s really worked.

Also thank you People’s Pharmacy for always providing useful information!

My toenail fungus is where the nail has separated from the bed, I have always used a precription gel which worked only to have it come back, now I am going to start using Vicks.

Vicks did help me but didn’t get rid of it. It seemed to stop it growing as fast but it just wouldn’t grow out. Ended up just getting Nailenta to sort it out. But Vicks was by far up near the best for me.

Hi I have to share my toenail fungus story, sorry its so lengthy but its very important. I was getting gel pedicures and noticed something under my right big toe nail looked like it was water with some white spots under my nail. I also felt some itching on both my left and right big toe at the tip of nail that was driving me crazy I was in denial until fungus was about half way down my right toe nail bed of course I stopped getting gel on my toes and went to Dr. he prescribed a medication that he said I would need to get a blood test to see if it was effecting my liver this is when i decided to look online to find a holistic approach. There I found out the fungus was more then just my toenail fungus the foods I was eating along with the antibiotics that killed my good bacteria I had taken for a cold was causing an over growth of Yeast in my body which can also attribute to the fungus in your toenails.

I immediately changed my diet , stopped sodas, sugar watched caffeine , red meat, wheat bread mushrooms beets /from fungus family and my wine intake cause yeast and fungus feed on this food and went on gluten free also taking probiotic and a yeast cleanse which has helped with toenail fungus and my other symptoms of bloating and cramping. I know people who have had the fungus and couldn’t get rid of it and I wanted it gone! My brother told me about the Vics but i wasn’t convinced. I found a foot bath remedy one of many from the Japanese toenail fungus cure book downloaded from website that cost me 30.00 well worth it, one recipe I choose was 1/4 cup hydrogen Peroxide, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 salt and 1/2 red wine vinegar with 4 cups of warm water.

I soaked feet separately in a plastic tray about 4″ deep and big enough for my whole foot. I would soak every day about 30 mins for 14 days I noticed improvement and it especially helped with the terrible itching that nothing else could stop. It was working so well I kept soaking everyday for 3 weeks which was not such a great idea as I was so anxious to get rid of it I over did it a bit cause I started to get blisters and my cuticle and feet were so dry so keep to the 14 days and then slow down.

I started using tea tree oil on big toenail including Vics at night because of the dryness and my feet and nails started looking even better. I now do the foot bath twice or so a week to make sure it does not come back and now I have no itching at all! Thank god ! and the Japanese toenail fungus cure. I think the fungus is gone. I have a little yellow at tip of nail yet to finish growing out maybe another 2 weeks this process has taken almost 5 months so be patient and wear open shoes at all times. Wish you all the Best!

My son tried tea tree oil and ended up in the hospital for 3 days!! Be careful!

I’ve had toenail fungus on my right big toe for years. On my left big toe it was more recent. I tried the pill but i didn’t like the fact it was harsh on your liver, and I like to drink so I scrapped that. I tried tea tree oil, but that didn’t work that well. I found out that Vicks Vaporub seemed to be effective on a few different places I looked online. Seems easy enough and thankfully I like the smell of it.

6 weeks ago I started using it on both toes, and on the rest of my feet (it works well as a skin softener, too). I applied it 2-3 times a day when I could. About 3 weeks in I started noticing a darkening under the nail. I’ve read this is the fungus dying off. What was weird was that on my left toe (the more recently infected) the fungus turned black under the nail. On my right toe, it turned dark red.

About 4 weeks into it I started lessening my application of the vaporub, more like 1-2 times a day. Sometimes just once, and I stopped putting it all over my feet.

6 weeks (today) I was able to pry my infected nail off of the right toe. It was a little bloody, but there was a nail growing underneath. I’m going to keep applying the vaporub and then bandaging it to protect it (especially since I kickbox). I’m waiting on the left toenail to feel loose as the new nail grows out.

I have to say I was skeptical that vaporub would be effective. I’m thrilled it worked. What a relief after all this time suffering from the fungus and not being able to get pedicures. Never again! I will use vaporub as a preemptive treatment from now on. And bonus, it will keep your shoes/feet from smelling.

I would definitely recommend this method.

While wearing some open toed sandals one day last August, I pointed my big toe out to a doctor friend and asked if it looked like I had nail fungus. The entire left side of the nail was yellow underneath and was no longer connected to the nail-bed. She agreed that it was toenail fungus. She said there are some drugs that can be taken but they can have some very bad side affects.

She told me that many people have good results with just coating the affected nail with Vicks VapoRub, morning and evening. I started doing that immediately. It took a month or more to start seeing any results, as the nail has to slowly grow out. After about 4 months, the nail had grown out enough that the entire affected area had grown out and been trimmed off. It now looks 100% back to normal appearance.

I have decided to continue applying the Vicks about once a week or so to all of my toenails as a preventive measure.

Do all these remedies for toenail fungus apply to fingernail fungus?

The Vicks literally killed the fungus overnight. I used it on and under the nail. 3 weeks later I have a good bit of healthy growth. I am still applying the Vicks and plan to continue until it is all grown out.

I found this page a couple of years ago but never had the discipline to apply the Vick’s every night.

I lost my nail after dropping a heavy box on it many, many years ago. It’s really affected my life in ways that I’m sure most readers here will understand. I haven’t been swimming ever since, something I loved to do. I can’t even walk around with no socks on in case someone sees my toenail.

Tonight, I was in the shower and had a thought. I had a electric exfoliating brush with changeable heads, one of them happens to be a pumice stone and I had a thought, what if I used the pumice stone attachment on my thick infected toe (I never use the attachment anyway) and then continue with the Vick’s.

I just spent 5 minutes on my big toenail with this pumice stone and I’ve managed to get it almost down to the nail bed so I’ve applied the Vick’s. I’ll update in the next few days but I’m very optimistic, it’s the “thinnest” my nail has ever been.

For those interested, I have this electric brush thing:

It’s not a plug, get whichever one you want but it’s just to give you an idea to the size of the pumice stone.

If you decide to do it, be careful with the skin on your toe, it’s quite easy to navigate around it by using different surfaces of the stone.

Good luck everyone!

Your pumice stone can transfer fungus spores to the other toenails. Just a thought.

Thanks Will….I thought I was crazy, but I too noticed a difference within 48 hours. Unbelievable!

After several unsuccessful attempts to cure my toe nail fungus with prescription pills and creams, my doctor had me try this simple, inexpensive, home remedy ointment. It actually worked! Here are the instructions and interesting facts.

Tea Tree Oil And Camphor Ointment:
What you need to overcome your nail fungus:
Jar of Vicks VapoRub, bottle of Tea Tree Oil, small jar or a small lidded container (I bought a spice bottle at the dollar store) a square tipped water color paint brush, again from dollar store and a set of measuring spoons.

To Make The Ointment:
Into a very small bowl measure out 3 level tablespoons of Vicks VapoRub, add ¼ teaspoon Tea Tree Oil and using the paint brush thoroughly mix the two together. Spoon the ointment into a small jar or lidded container.

To use the ointment:
Clip your infected nail or nails as short as possible. File the cut end as well as the top of the nail using a nail file or an emery board. Filing the top of the nail to roughen the surface is important, it allows the ointment to penetrate the nail. Wipe your toes with a damp cloth to remove filing dust and dry them with a towel.
At bedtime:
Using the paint brush, brush a generous amount of the ointment over the infected nail or nails, using the brush to rub it in, over the entire top of the toe and as far under the nail as you can comfortably get. Loading the brush with more ointment as needed.
Do Not Bandage Or Wrap The Feet With Plastic!
Put on a pair of loose fitting sport socks.
Brush the ointment to the area nightly and keep your trouble nail or nails as short as possible, until a new nail has totally developed.
*** Do Not Use Camphor Or Tea Tree Oil If Pregnant Or Breast Feeding.

Here are some facts:
100% tea tree oil is believed to be substantially medicinal and antimicrobial. The element in the plant that has antibiotic asset is terpenen-4-ol, which composes 30% of the oil. Tea tree oil includes anti fungal agents that help in overcoming nail fungus.
Camphor is translucent, waxy and pungent odor. Camphor comes from the bark of the camphor laurel, an evergreen tree native to Asia. When applied to the skin, it cools it and acts like an anesthetic. Vicks Vaporub, Metholatum and Tiger Balm are camphor based products, all of which are used as remedies for chest colds.
While not medically proven to cure nail fungus, several blind studies have reached the same conclusion. Camphor and tea tree oil are effective in the treatment of nail fungus infectivity.

I have been using vicks vapour rub for sometime & noticed a considerable nail looking whiter & healthier after using many different remedies from the doctor. But would certainly like to try white vinegar to see if it does clear it up quicker.

I should add that I had tried a vinegar+Listerine soak as well, which yielded some improvement, but not much.

After trying vinegar + tea tree soaks with no luck, I saw a podiatrist who uses laser treatment on the nails. Dermatophytes were present. The treatment uses UV disinfection of all footwear, as well as following up with a topical rx solution.

While this was not the solution I was aiming for (as I wanted to reach success with the vinegar+tea tree soaks), and it did involve out of pocket expenses, it appears to be addressing the problem. Time will tell if there is a recurrence!

Years ago you mentioned Vitamin E oil on the radio. I don’t read of Vitamin E oil for toenail fungus from any of your readers. I took a small prescription bottle, a hat pin and Vitamin E capsules and put it by my bed, Every night I would poke a hole in the capsule and squeeze out a drop of the Vitamin E oil and run it under my infected toenail. It took months but the fungus grew out and still, now, over 20 years later I have not had it come back. One capsule of oil lasted for about a week. Inexpensive enough and it worked. Why, I have no idea!!

Heide Kaplan, how long did you have to do this with the Vitamin E? Thank you for any additional information.

I had Toenail fungus for better than 10 years. It was so embarrassing that I would not wear open toe shoes. I began the Vicks treatment about 6 weeks ago, and the results are tremendous. It is a slow process to see the results, but after so many years of trying all other treatments, I am very happy to finally feel that I can go bare footed without being ashamed. My toenails were less than half of their normal length and now growing with better color and look almost normal.

Not sure mine is fungus…PCP said fungus and to use Vicks, podiatrist said it didn’t look like a fungus, but could not diagnose. Nail is not discolored or misshapen. Nail is so thick underneath it is raised an eighth of an inch from nail bed. I can scrape off thickness but it comes back. I tried Vicks with no effect. Have it on one toe of right foot and can see the beginnings on the same toe of left foot. Any ideas what it is?

My friend has horrid toenails and she put Vicks on for 3 weeks and it worked like gold, the same colour of her nails haha lol

Vicks worked for me! I had fungus mainly on the big toenails, and to a lesser extent on the other toes. This cure takes a LONG time, so patience is key. Each night I would rub Vicks on the nails and underneath. I wrapped my Vicksed-up feet in plastic wrap and put socks on over that. 1. I didn’t have to smell the Vicks that way and 2. The Vicks stayed firmly in place for 6-8 hours every night, which I felt gave it a better chance at penetrating the nails. 9 months later, I only have a 1/8-1/4 inch of yellow/brown discoloration left to grow out of the two big toenails. All the other toes are clear! I don’t even have to do it every night anymore.

Just a side note: If you’re going to put yourself through this nighttime ritual, why not benefit in another way, too? I also slathered my feet in moisturizer every night after the Vicks. Because of the 6-8 hours in plastic wrap, at 41 years old, I have the softest baby feet around! LOL

Had fungas for 10 years. Vicks cleared my problem in two weeks.

After more than 20 years of constant and reoccurring nail fungus on both feet large toe nails only, this is how I cured it. If you do exactly as described your fungus will be eradicated “BUT” you have to be religious about applying every day.
First of all cut away with a quality pair of nail clippers as much of the affected area as possible without causing further damage. File the nail surface (one time only) to help rid of any uneven surface.
Apply any kind of “Listerine” mouthwash solution with a cotton wool pad to the infected nails and leave for 10/15 minutes. Next, apply a generous helping of “Vicks Vapour Rub” onto the nail with a cotton bud (remove the cotton bud at one end and apply). Now this next step is crucial. If you are walking around in bear feet or sandals then do not cover with a plaster. However if you have to wear sock/shoes for work then apply a sticking plaster band around the toe nail so that the Vicks formula does not rub away into sock material. At night before you retire take the plasters off to allow your nail to breath and repeat this process daily.
This whole process is going to take between 6/12 months depending on how bad the infection is because this is how long a toe nail take to full grow out/renew.
The other thing for males that I would strongly suggest is “all leather” shoes including soles for work to allow your feet to breath and dissipate sweat. I hope this helps.


I’ve started applying Vicks Vapourub on my my bigtoe nail with fungus that’s been there for years. I noticed immediate improvement with the white bits clearing within days. I’ve been doing it now for about a month and there’s fresh healthy nail growing out. I tried all the OTC stuff and nothing worked at all. A couple more months and I’ll have a healthy toenail.

I’m using tiger balm kinda like Vicks just a higher percentage of camphor 11% verses 5% Vicks, My toenail is beginning to disintegrate and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad. I’m scared that it will grow back worst should I continue or is this a good sign? Also the white skin in nail bed has become more loose then hard thick callus type growth on nail bed. So when I pull up skin of nail bed I’m seeing basically flesh..? So confused someone who’s used Vicks, tiger balm please explain if it’s normal?????

I had two ugly toenails with fungal infection and discoloration on my big toes. I shook some cornmeal in a pair of socks down by the toes putting them on at bedtime, hopped into bed so the cornmeal was constantly in contact with all my toes. Easy to take off in the morning and I used the same socks with the same cornmeal with the overnight treatments being careful to shake the cornmeal down into the toes before I removed the socks. Kept them at bedside as a reminder. In the morning after my shower I would put Vicks on the toes with a Q-tip. Not sure what worked but that was an easy way to get ride of it. It has not come back in two years. I could not imaging putting my foot in a baggie with cornmeal and not be able to move around. Plus the length of time that the cornmeal was in touch with my toes was much longer and maybe more effective.

No! Get to a doctor!

After using Vicks does the nail come off. Would the nailbed be like an open wound? Would really like to know because I am a bit freightened of what is under nail.

I have had toenail fungus for YEARS!!! I’ve tried taking the pills (2x) and both times it cleared up, but came back (my husband has it as well). I looked a bit into laser, but yeah…it’s so spendy. I have used the paint on stuff @ $40./bottle…nothing, Tea tree oil….no change… Then a few months ago I put vinegar in my foot soak water…just cuz…and just once. A few months later I noticed it had stopped, but then it started coming back.

After reading on this website I began putting Vicks on my two infected toenails. I noticed last week that the stuff under my nails was turning black. Today I took off a very deformed curved nail off my 2nd toe and dug some of the dead stuff out of my big toe nail. It’s all growing up with no curve and no fungus. The large nail is growing with no fungus. This is incredible!!! My husband has now begun the vinegar/mouthwash regime. We are on our way to kill all of our nail fungus!!! YAY!!!!

100% legit worked for me. I had 1 toenail that was covered in fungus and this cleared it up rather quickly.

I should have thought that using something “for several years with some improvement” was tantamount to saying that it was completely ineffectual. However, I had extremely nasty toenails, and after three months of using Vick there is already a noticeable improvement.

i regard paying the extra cost in order not to go into Walmart is well worth it.

I do not know for sure if I have a fungus infection but I do have a discolored toe nail. Vics is a miracle worker. Put small amount on my toe and then cover with a bandaid for over night, it has really helped. try it, it is cheap and if it does not work what have you lost. Keep the vics for your next cold.

Did you do this every night or once a week?

I was wondering for the cornmeal mush remedy how much cornmeal and water do i need to be mixing and what it is supposed to look like? Doughy? Sandy? Etc…?

I have had this fungus on my big toenail for several years and have tried the expensive products that need filing the nail etc. No change after a year so I opted for a twice a day over the counter product AND rubbed Vicks vapour rub onto the nail daily and this seems to be working. I think it’s the combination of two products, the Vicks keeps the nail soft and the stuff you paint on dries out the fungus. I tried apple cider vinegar directly on the nail along with tee tree at times, had no effect.

I have really enjoyed reading the comments. I will be using the Vicks but I am going to try Corn Meal also.

My thoughts ad i read this exactly

I’ve been using Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil Treatment for several years. I had fungus on all ten toe nails. Now I’m down to 8. I’m about to try Vicks Vapo Rub which is very cheap compared to the Tea Tree oil solution so I hope it helps!!

I have a toenail fungi on my toe next to the big toe. . I have also been using an Antifungal Cream. CalledPhysician formula. I have used it for over a year now and it has gotten worse. My toenail is real thick and it’s going to fall off. So should I start soaking my toe or use Vicks. I am diabetic does that make a difference ? Any help is appreciated at this point thank you Donna

I used tons of natural remedies, but I did not see improvement mostly because I could not keep the routine consistent due to lots of traveling. Then, finally, I decided to try minced garlic mixed with olive oil under a bandaid at night and or day. This worked great! It took me a few months but I did get rid of one nail fungus. The only thing about this tx is that it might cause the nail to look yellow because of the garlic but that seems to have gone away after two weeks of stopping garlic. Then I just used coconut oil on the nail.
Vicks seems to work too! Good luck, I just wanted to share that. remember, to be perseverant.:)

I need a cure for nail fungus . Finger and toe.

Then read the article and comments.

Ihave tried many treatments, all to no avail. do I cover Vicks treatment with socks?

I have been using Vicks and having great success after using a lot of useless chemist products

I’m a retired Marine. I had a vicious toe nail infection on all toes of my feet. Over the years I tried all types of lotions, creams and oils. No Luck.

Then I go to a “Nail Clinic ” at the VA. Before I leave a nurse hands me a slip of paper. It said, “Use Vicks Vapo Rub on the nails at night, cover with white socks” I decided to really put this to the test so I kept my nails trimmed as short as possible and used the Vicks 2-3 times per day.

It’s been 3 months and I have barely a 1/2 of one big toe that has anything on it. ALL my toes are FREE OF FUNGUS! It worked amazingly well for me. I just bombarded my nails with Vicks morning, noon, and night. Get crazy. It’s worth a try!

coconut oil! The wonder substance! Works great.

I have tried tea tree oil in the past but with no effect… Now going to try hydrogen peroxide in the morning & vicks at night..

I am so glad to hear about the vicks vapo rub therapy. I have heard about the cornmeal therapy but have not tried it. The vinegar makes sense, I am going to try all three. I will let you know the results.

Well after my last pregnancy I noticed in my last month’s this horrible toe nail fungus show up, I’ve struggled with getting rid of it, now this is seven years later I still have it. So I recently decided to try the vicks vapor rub treatment. I put on a coat of it on all my nails, even the ones that aren’t infected, and I have noticed some clear growth starting to come in. My husband has the same problem and he’s been taking biotin, and some other hair and nail growth supplements, and so have I in order to speed up the growth process. I hope this works I was also wondering if it’s OK to put on the vicks like I do at night, then I put on my socks. I just don’t want to rub of all the vics on my sheets, like does anyone know if this is ok? thank you

so I know about this..the vick’s vapo-rub cure for fungus and atlhetes foot. The title of this article is WHY does it work and no place in the discussion do I see anyone addressing the point of WHY it works… is there eucalyptus in the Vick’s? what? and WHY?

It just bothers me that the discussion of if and how and your stories of the application are shared and this is supposed by the title to be about why… I still wonder, WHY?

Several years ago when they first started advertising prescription remedies for toenail fungus, I thought they were inventing a disease to treat. That is, until I got it. I have been using the Vicks after morning shower and before bed for about three weeks. I don’t know if it will cure the fungus but it sure looks a lot better. And its almost sandals weather!

Cornmeal probably works because of its absorbent nature. Assuming you’re using only the minimum amount of water, the cornmeal will be able to absorb much more and will therefore sap the moisture from your nails.

Where can I purchase the vicks vapo rub? All I see is a cough suppresant ointment. Is that it? And is there difference between the different kinds of ointment?

I use a tool to push back the cuticle on the infected toes. This tool also has a spoon-like scraper to clean under the toenail. I then tried Vicks with minor results and now am using the vinegar spray each morning as well as Vicks twice a day. There Is still discoloration but the nails are much thinner and better looking. But, how does one determine which type of fungus or other agent is causing the problem?

Cough suppresant ointment is what it is. I didnt read anyone post here about Aloevera plant. After shower every night buff your sick nail down some and clean it after buffing, then grab a piece of an aloevera peel it back a bit and rub it on the nail directly. Socks or no socks… it worked for my brother, and cousin. It may make your sick nail more yellow at first but then it’s cured… in 12 weeks if your consistent.

I’ve never had toenail fungus ever before in my life until a few months ago in my late 20’s. I was afflicted with it after just a week boarding a room in the landlady’s house. It must have been her shower stall, or my sandals, but I saw my second-to-left toenail showing white streaks and I felt it thickening. I quickly looked up treatments online and saw that Vicks VapoRub may help cure or eliminate most of the fungus growth.

What helped was that I cut off most of the toenail so that you can feel the nail bed pretty easily. I really had to in order to receive the best possible treatment. I started applying VapoRub on the nail bed for at least once or twice a day, and almost every day, after a month of treatment. And then when the nail began to grow, I started applying the VapoRub on that instead. After 3 months, I don’t see white streaks on my new nail growth anymore. There is a slight bump on the end of my nail, but that was the infected part I couldn’t reach and cut off; hopefully the VapoRub killed off the fungus still on that part. For the most part, I think it’s cured, however…

…I’ll continue applying VapoRub on my toenail, since I’m paranoid the remnants of the fungus still on my toe may have a resurgence if left untreated.

Can you apply the Vicks or do the cornmeal treatment on toenails that are painted, that have nail polish on them? I can’t go without the nail polish because my big toe is so ugly!

I’ve had toenail fungus for a few years. I used several over-the-counter medicines that never worked. A few months ago I went to a podiatrist because after using all that medicine part of the nail on my big toe was sliding off. After that there was a growth at the top of my nail that needed to come off and then was sent to a lab to be checked. There was no cancer. The nail grew back but so did the fungus. The doctor can prescribe medicine but its expensive and has many side effects. I guess right now I try the Vicks Vapor Rub and see how that works.


We hear that the nail fungus treatments do not work well on polished nails.

I have it on both big toes in the corners of the nails. After trying curanail and Scholl fungal nail treatment (both of which just seemed to make it worse!) I switched to Vaporub and my infection on both sides has nearly gone.
I applied it every day morning and night but once or twice a week gently filed the surface of the nail like you have to with the branded treatments as I just assumed you would need to do the same for the Vaporub to absorb. So this might have helped the Vaporub work better – I don’t know (not since read that anyone else does this!)

I have had fungus and nail bed damage on my right thumb nail (about half way up the nail) for approx. 8 years. My nail technician has suggested, and I have tried, everything: anti-fungal treatments, vinegar, etc. She said the nail would probably never grow out because of unknown nail bed damage. At one point, we even glued one half of an acrylic nail on each week for about a year to protect the nail. Nothing helped, or even looked right. I always had to have my nails polished because of the ugly discoloration.
About six months ago, on my own, after reading one of your columns, I began using Vicks Vapo-rub twice a day. I just dabbed a little on a toothpick and gently rubbed it under the nail. Low and behold, after two months, I could see new growth! Now, it has almost completely grown out. I am so excited! I only use the Vicks once a day now. Hope this long information helps someone else.

I used tea tree oil for at least 8 months to treat toenail fungus on my big toe, and while it seemed to slow the spread, there was little recession. After reading about the use of Vick’s vapo-rub I decided to give it at try, and eliminated the fungus in about 5 months with daily applications. I’m sold!

I tried the cornmeal paste on a fungal infected big toe. I think I did it just once or twice and decided this is dumb and didn’t do it again. Lo and behold, I recently noticed the fungus is gone and I have nice pink big toenail! It is cheap, easy and harmless. I say give it a try if you have the fungus!
TWC, Kingwood TX

I have followed any and all suggestions regarding toe nail fungus. Recently, when I sought out a podiatrist for a laser treatment he insisted on a lab test first to verify that I did indeed have a fungus. Big DUH moment. There was no fungus even though I have been prescribed medication by family doctors and dermatologists. The podiatrist says that the aging foot is subject to trauma that can result walking and climbing to changes in the fat distribution in the foot itself. I was told to get an over the counter product called “Kerasal Nail” which has done wonders. One of my great toe nails is just about grown out and looks good. The other nail is slowly improving.

I noticed a plantar’s wart on the sole of my foot near the metatarsal pad…getting more painful as the days went by. Then I remembered what some of your listeners said about Vicks Vapor Rub…I used that day and night, allowing 6 weeks for it to work. Three weeks later, it was GONE! The pain went away the first week. Thanks!!!

I bought a bottle of organic white vinegar — every morning after my shower I sprayed my toes within a very short time I noticed all the yellow on my nails was moving up from the nail bed.
It’s been over a year and my nails have remained clear. I still use the vinegar spray about once a week when I remember. By the time I dressed — the vinegar smell was gone and toes dry — ready for my socks.

I have found Vicks Vaporub helpful with ingrown toenails also.

I use hydrogen peroxide on my nail fungus. It clears it up very quickly. Use straight from the bottle.

I don’t know if this is merely coincidence or actually something worth paying attention to but I drastically reduced my processed sugar intake, eliminating all desserts, and noticed that my fungus infection on my great toe disappeared. I noticed healthy nail tissue replacing the fungal infected one as it grew. This took several months. I do eat fresh fruits.

I used Vicks on my big toe that had a fungus for many years. I only applied it for about a month and most days forgot to put it on! After about 3 months, the fungus is gone, the nail is growing and getting thinner.
THE stuff definitely works.

Bam you hit it right on the nose. Sweets! Cut back on them and you won’t have the fungus problem. It feeds on sweets.

The HMO to which I belong frequently sends an informative email to members. About a year ago, one of these emails stated that there are several types of fungi which can cause nail problems.
Assuming that each kind of fungus responds to a particular treatment, that would explain why any given treatment helps some, but not other people.
One can send scrapings of the infected nail to a lab to find which fungus is causing the problem, and then each of us sufferers would have to report which treatment helps which kind of fungus.

This study:
seems to indicate that there are 3 common fungi; and that 2 of them are very susceptible to Vicks VapoRub, while the 3rd is less so.

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