How Effective Are Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus?
Onychomycosis, most commonly referred to as toenail fungus, is a condition that is not only physical, but has emotional components as well. Home remedies for toenail fungus may offer alternative solutions for battling this annoying condition. Toenail fungus is most recognized as a thickening and yellowing discoloration of the nails. Nails may become so affected over time that they begin to crumble; As a continue to thicken under the nail bed the nail may actually lift off the toe.
Despite its prevalence, treatment is successful only about three quarters of the time and significant results can be spotty at best.
For many people who suffer from toenail fungus, it can cause foot shame or embarrassment and actually result in negative lifestyle changes. There are many alternative treatments and home remedies, but how effective are home remedies for toenail fungus? Don’t know for sure, but there are some that have persisted for a very long time. We have listed 16 of these below. Some of these are more popular than others, but all of them have been used at one time or another.
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a common kitchen ingredient known for its multiple uses, from cooking to cleaning to simple medical treatments like bee stings. Baking soda can also help to prevent fungal growth – in one study, it prevented fungal growth in 79% of the specimens tested. It is important to note that baking soda will not eliminate the fungus, but may be instrumental in prevention. Basically, it soaks up moisture that can lead to toenail fungus.
There are a few ways in which baking soda can be used:
- Since wet, moist environments can be a direct contributor to the growth of toenail fungus, baking soda can be sprinkled inside socks and shoes to soak up moisture from sweat or environmental factors.
- Create a paste of baking soda and water that can be applied right to the nail for about 10 minutes before rinsing off. This must be done several times a day.
Cornmeal has a history of use in getting rid of fungal disease in roses. There are a number of applications of cornmeal for toenail fungus. Suggested:
Add 1 cup of cornmeal to 2 quarts of water in a pan or tub big enough for your feed. Let the cornmeal and water mixture sit for about an hour, then soak your toes for 30 minutes or more. More than one treatment is required – do this a couple of times a week. Because fungus exists not only on or under the toenails, but between the toes as well, be sure to soak the toes completely and pat dry.
3. Vicks VapoRub
The ingredients in Vicks Vaporub or other similar mentholated topical ointments that may help in the treatment of toenail fungus include Camphor and Eucalyptus oil. The application of Vicks VapoRub as a possible home remedy for toenail fungus actually has a bit of study behind it; a 2011 study discovered that Vicks VapoRub had a “positive clinical effect” in the treatment of toenail fungus. Menthol, eucalyptus oil, and camphor are the active ingredients that may help when applied directly the toenail. This 2011 clinical case study by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM). Although this is NOT a proven treatment, the case study notes that “Vicks VapoRub may represent a significant addition to the clinical options for treating onychomycosis…”.
To use Vicks VapoRub on your toenails, trim them, wash and dry them. Apply Vicks VapoRub carefully with your finger or a QTip and rub it in, making sure to get the whole nail all the way to the cuticle. Do this twice a day. You can cover your foot with a sock after applying at night and leave the sock on until morning to make sure it stays on. (You can find Vicks VapoRub Ointment here)
Clinical study: https://www.podiatrytoday.com/blogged/myth-or-reality-vicks-vaporub-effective-mycotic-toenails
Listerine mouthwash has ingredients that have antifungal properties, including Thymol, Eucalyptol, Methyl salicylate and Menthol. Some users have reported that soaking their toes in Listerine at the first sign of toenail fungus worked, although there is no scientific evidence or proof of that claim.
Listerine treatment for toenail fungus is simple. Fill a dishpan or large bowl with warm water, gently wash your feet and scrub your toenails with a soft brush. Add enough Listerine to double the amount of liquid in the bowl and soak your feet for half an hour or so. Dry your feet and scrub vigorously with a towel.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil can cause allergic reactions in some people…it should be diluted in a carrier oil like olive, coconut, or almond oil. (add 12 drops of a carrier oil for every 1 or 2 drops of tea tree oil.) Once diluted, tea tree oil can be used in a few ways to combat foot fungus:
- Apply the mixture to your toenails with a cotton swab and let it dry
- Add several drops of oil mixture to a pan or bucket of warm water and soak for 30 minutes.
There are some studies on the possible benefits of using tea tree oil to treat nail fungus, but none of them are conclusive. There is a 2013 survey that showed Tea Tree Oil effective in reducing the fungus that can cause nail fungus.
Vinegar isn’t just for cooking anymore! Vinegar is a diluted form of acetic acid, and some folks believe it slows or stops the growth of some types of foot fungus. There are a number of ways people use this, but you can try soaking your toes 20 minutes in one part vinegar and three parts warm water
(There is also some information surrounding the use of Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide. Check out this article.)
7. Essential Oils
In addition to tea tree oil, there are a number of other essential oils used for treating different health conditions, including fungus. For centuries, thyme and lavender oils have been known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Other essential oils you can use includes petitgrain oil, clary sage oil, jasmine oil, ylang ylang oil, olive oil, oregano oil, and others. These are safe and simple to use…simply mix them into a carrier oil like almond, coconut or olive oil, and apply to the affected toenails. (You can purchase high quality Young Living Essential Oils from our friend and oil expert Lisa Boucher)
Turmeric is a yellow-colored spice commonly found in many Indian households. It is a plant of the ginger family and contains medicinal properties including antifungal.
- Mix turmeric powder with a few drops of water creating a paste.
- Apply the paste directly to the affected toenail.
- Rinse your affected foot with lukewarm water after 30 minutes.
9. Lemon juice
Lemon is an acidic fruit but is also famous for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. You can choose to add a few drops of honey on the juice to balance its acidity. How to use:
- Extract the lemon juice
- Use a cotton pad soaked in the lemon juice or apply the juice directly on the affected area.
- Leave it for up to 30 minutes and rinse your feet with lukewarm water.
Not typically considered a contender in the list of home remedies for toenail fungus, history says that coffee was used as a disinfectant in the olden times. Keep in mind though that if you have toenail fungus, you might need to restrain yourself from drinking coffee as it can make your feet sweat. Instead, you can try using it in treating your onychomycosis.
- Soak your affected foot in the coffee mixture for several minutes at least 5 times a day, and continue this treatment every day until you see improvement.
11. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is another toenail fungus treatment that you can easily find at home – right in your aloe vera plant! Aloe Vera also has antifungal properties and is even used widely in treating nail mycosis.
- Extract the gel from the aloe vera plant by cutting a leaf and squeezing it into a small bowl (you can also purchase pure aloe vera gel).
- Apply the juice directly on the affected area.
- You can also soak a cotton ball with the gel and wrap it with tape or a band-aid on the affected toe overnight.
Another toenail fungus treatment that can be found at home is garlic. It isn’t just a great food seasoning, but it also contains antifungal properties which can help treat your toenail fungus. Extra benefit: no vampires! How to use:
- Chops cloves of garlic into pieces
- Apply the chopped garlic directly into the affected toenail and leave it for about 30 minutes
Snakeroot is a flowering plant (not a snake!) commonly found in Mexico that is traditionally used in treating varying fungal infections. Scientific research was even conducted and showed that a certain component of snakeroot can treat athlete’s foot. How to use:
- Get the extract of snakeroot plant (you can purchase Snakeroot Extract here)
- Apply it directly on the affected toenail
- You can soak cotton on the extract, wrap it on the toe and cover with a cotton sock overnight
14. Olive Leaf Extract
We all know that olive is essential to our diet as it can detoxify our body. You don’t need to limit yourself with adding olive leaf in your diet, you can also get it extracted and use it in treating your toenail fungus. You can also try taking using olive leaf extract capsules twice daily with meals, which may be a more effective treatment. (Learn more by reading this study)
How to use olive leaf extract:
- Buy a liquid form of the olive leaf extract or do the extraction yourself
- Apply directly the mixture to the affected toenail
15: Dietary Changes
Like every other single thing in our lives, preventative measures to avoid toenail fungus can be affected by dietary changes. Keeping your feet and toenails clean, dry, and maintained is bolstered by a food rich in vitamin D, healthy oils like the Omega-3 type found in fish, probiotic and iron rich foods, and proteins all combine to strengthen nails. Dietary changes are most effective when they are implemented proactively.
Toenail fungus may not be life-threatening, but it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing to many. The home remedies for toenail fungus mentioned above, along with proper hygiene, may help in slowing down progression and treating the condition. To avoid further complications, seek your physician’s attention right away if the condition worsens, or if you are diabetic or have a weak immune system.
The author of this site encourages you to consult with your doctor prior to making any health-related changes or any changes related to a specific diagnosis or condition. No information on this site should be relied upon to determine your diet, to make a medical diagnosis, or recommend any treatment for any medical conditions. This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, nor is it intended as medical advice.