Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Should You Have a Blue Thumb to Be Pain Free?

One reader was inspired to put gentian violet on the excruciating splits in her thumbs. She discovered that resulted in healing and her thumbs are now pain free.

Gentian violet is an old but versatile medication. It was created in the 19th century, and although it is a bright blue dye, it was never used to color cloth or products. Its applications were strictly in the laboratory and the doctor’s office. Gentian violet kills many types of bacteria and fungi. Doctors are now recommending it when antibiotic resistance makes other treatments less effective (Maley & Arbiser, Experimental Dermatology, Dec. 2013). One reader found that it could help make her split fingertips and thumbs become pain free.

Gentian Violet Against Nail Fungus:

Q. I hope you won’t mind another letter about gentian violet; my experience has been positive. After reading about it in your column, I applied it carefully with a cotton swab once a week for a month. My toenails appeared to have purple polish.

After trying over the counter and prescription remedies for many, many years, I am seeing excellent changes to my toenails for the first time. I’ll keep up the treatment in hopes it will cure this terrible fungus.

Now for another use for gentian violet: Every winter for years, I’ve had painful splits in the skin around my thumbnails. As with my toenails, I’ve tried all sorts of remedies to no avail. After painting my toenails, I decided to paint the miserable wound on one of my thumbs. Within a week, there was noticeable healing. No physician ever suggested that this malady was a fungal infection.

I don’t mind the bright purple toenails (with a little iridescent sheen!) if it defeats nail fungus.

How Could Gentian Violet Make Thumbs Pain Free?

A. We are delighted that the gentian violet has been helpful for your split thumb tips. We remind anyone else who decides to try this that gentian violet is quite a strong blue dye.

That said, we heard from another reader who inadvertently discovered a way to remove the color:

“After reading about gentian violet’s use for nail fungus, I’ve been treating my wife’s toenail fungus with it. It seems to be working slowly. I accidentally discovered an easy way to remove it–common hydrogen peroxide. With a little rubbing, the peroxide removed the gentian violet quite well.”

Since people use hydrogen peroxide to treat toenail fungus, we can understand why he might have been using it. It is quite a powerful cleanser and bleach.

Rate this article
4.9- 17 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.