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Toenail Fungus Home Remedies

Updated on April 30, 2016
A toenail with fungus.
A toenail with fungus. | Source

Fungal infection of the toenail is also known as Onychomycosis.

Between 5 and 10% of adults will experience toenail fungus at some point in their lives.

Fortunately, it's very easy to treat using simple home remedies and everyday products from your kitchen or bathroom.

Toenail fungus should not be confused with ingrown toenails, which occur when the nail grows painfully into the skin.

Signs and Symptoms

A toenail with fungus is much thicker and often yellowish in colour, though it can also be brown, black, or green. As the infection weakens the nail, it will typically crack or begin to chip off in large pieces.

The skin around the toenail is not always infected, but the entire toe can become swollen or inflamed in extreme cases of fungus.

Men are more susceptible to toenail fungus than women, and doctors suspect that nail weakness may be partially hereditary. To positively diagnose toenail fungus, doctors will microscopically examine a sample of nail clippings to determine whether an infection is present.

Nail scissors
Nail scissors

Natural Treatments

For decades, doctors have prescribed conventional medications for toenail fungus. Some of these, such as nail paint with ciclopirox, contain synthetic anti-fungal agents.

But what you may not know is that there are plenty of remedies, many of them natural, which also contain anti-fungal, antiseptic, or antibacterial properties.

Like conventional medications, these natural treatments can cure toenail fungus quickly and easily at home.

Before You Begin

Before applying a toenail fungus remedy to your feet, it's best to push back the skin from around the infected toenail so that the product can be fully absorbed. Use a nail file or a small pair of scissors to gently scrape away any dead skin and push the cuticles back.

Next, cut back any excess nail so that the infected nail bed is as exposed as possible. Use a foot bath to clean the toe, then dry your foot well. This will help keep the infection from spreading.

While your toe is healing, you should avoid wearing tight socks or shoes and walk around barefoot whenever possible. This will ensure the infected toe is getting enough air, which will speed the healing process.

An apple
An apple

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented organic apples and has a variety of medicinal applications.

Traditionally, apple cider vinegar has been used to treat inflammation, menstrual problems, stomach ailments, and joint stiffness. It's also popular as a weight loss supplement.

Apple cider vinegar can help clear up toenail fungus if it's applied directly to the affected area three times daily. To speed up the healing process, you can also try ingesting a teaspoon of the vinegar each morning so that it's fully absorbed into the bloodstream.

When choosing a vinegar, look for a product that contains the "mother," a murky brown substance that sits at the bottom of the vinegar bottle. The mother is the most nutrient-rich part of the vinegar and contains living enzymes with many powerful health benefits.

A bowl of salt
A bowl of salt


For centuries, salt and salt water have been used as natural antibiotics.

Gargling with salt water is a common way to help alleviate the symptoms of a sore throat. When applied topically, salt can also help treat bacterial infections, although it typically stings when applied to a cut or burn.

Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is a particularly effective remedy for toenail fungus since it naturally removes toxins from your body. This product is available at most grocery stores (usually in a white jug or carton) and is also sold in bulk form at many dry goods stores.

To treat toenail fungus with Epsom salt, add two handfuls to a foot bath and soak your feet for 20-30 minutes each evening.

Jars of honey
Jars of honey


It's common knowledge that honey cures sore throats. But did you know it's also a natural antibiotic?

Honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which helps kill bacteria and heal burns or other superficial wounds on the skin. As an antifungal, honey treats toenail fungus by drawing toxins out of the foot.

Try applying a small spoonful of honey to your toenail and then gently wrap the affected area with gauze. You can also try ingesting a tablespoon of honey, along with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, on a daily basis to help fight infection.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a very popular essential oil that is pressed from the tree Melaleuca alternifolia.

The oil has natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It is commonly used as a medicinal remedy for burns, cuts, viruses, infections, and even acne.

Tea tree oil also happens to be a powerful antifungal agent. To treat toenail fungus with tea tree oil, apply a few drops of the oil to a cotton swab and gently dab at the affected area.

Repeat this process every day in the morning and evening.


Believe it or not, but you may have the key to curing toenail fungus for good right in your bathroom.

Most conventional mouthwashes, like Listerine, have antiseptic or antibacterial properties that help fight bad breath, kill bacteria, and stop the buildup of plaque.

If you are suffering from toenail fungus, try adding a few tablespoons of mouthwash to a foot bath every day. Letting your feet soak for 20-30 minutes can help reduce the symptoms of fungus quickly and safely.

Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub is a conventional cold medication that is sold in most drugstores.

When applied to either the chest or feet, VapoRub can help suppress a cough or help de-congest your chest.

In recent years, it has also become a popular "cure-all" for a variety of other ailments, including sore muscles, headaches, and even paper cuts.

When applied to toenail fungus, Vicks VapoRub can help clear up infection quickly and painlessly. Simply dab some of the ointment on the affected area before going to bed.

Repeat this process each night for 1-2 weeks. You should notice a marked improvement on your toe within a few days.


Bleach is a well-known product that's used to clean everything from clothes to bathroom floors.

Many people swear it's also an effective toenail fungus remedy. If you have fungus, add a tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of warm water, and then soak your feet for 20-30 minutes each day.

Use caution when working with bleach and make sure you keep the solution very diluted. Bleach is a powerful chemical agent that can easily burn your fingers or toes.

A bunch of olives
A bunch of olives

Olive Leaf Extract

The extract from the olive leaf has many anti-aging, antioxidant, and antibiotic properties.

When applied to toenail fungus, this essential oil can help reduce infection and restore the skin around the nail.

Olive leaf capsules are also available in many alternative health food stores. These can be taken orally to speed up the healing process.


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    • munirahmadmughal profile image

      munirahmadmughal 3 years ago from Lahore, Pakistan.

      For every disease there is a Cure. Physicians and surgeons both are to be thanksed and respected for their skill, knowledge and serving humanity. Home remedies too have to be respected. The reason is that there are many ways to do a thing.There are many factors and causes of a things and similarly there are many modes to treat, cure, and even prevent. Any how may God bless the author of this hub. It is the use and application by the affectees and sending the results.

      The hubpages organizers are also to be thanked for disseminating knowledge through the globe. This is a great human service which needs appreciation.

    • Schoolmom24 profile image

      Schoolmom24 3 years ago from Oregon

      Wow, this was great! My husband and my mother both have toenail fungus....going to pass on this info to them, thank you!

    • Better in Violet profile image

      Better in Violet 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Glad you found this info helpful! I've had family members with toenail fungus and they've had a lot of success with apple cider vinegar.

    • Majidsiko profile image

      Majidsiko 3 years ago from Kenya

      The major issue is that the fungus gets into the nail substance and requires constant treatment and suppression of the fungus until the nail grows out totally, but the recurrence rate is very high.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      It doesn't look like there is any quick and easy cure that does not involve soaking the nails 20 to 30 minutes per day. I have psoriatic nails, which is often confused with fungal nails. I think you are correct in saying people should get a medical opinion first. Well written hub.

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 3 years ago from Mumbai

      Mouthwash and Vicks vaporub came as a shock. I have faced this problem before, didn't know about these solutions. They are easily available without any hassle. Thanks for sharing the info :)

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 3 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      Olive leaf extract is a great addition to natural treatments for toenail fungus. Good information. Voted up.

    • profile image

      chelletlaudato 2 years ago

      Vicks vaporub helped cure my big toenails months ago. Vicks containss thymol which is the most effective ingredient that inhibits the growth of fungus. It has antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

      But I also stopped applying nail polish on my toenails and fingernails coz of the fear or recurring fungus. Yikes!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      I have been a victim of toenail fungus for many years. I do not know how it first caught me. May be when I was residing in a low lying area which used to be full of rain waters and mud during the entire rainy season even though I was there for only less than one year. After ten years of comments by many people, I began seriously thinking about it. By that time, all the five nails have become very dirty and much big and rough. I was unable to cut them with blades or nail cutter or even knife. Then I began salt water soaking of my foot for many weeks. After soaking I used to wash the toes with dettol original soap. After one year of this treatment, now I am able to cut my toenails easily and fungus has disappeared now. I use dettol soap even now for my bath and daily rub my nails also with it.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 2 years ago

      I love learning about home remedies because I really hate taking chemicals and drugs. What a great, informative hub here-- I knew about the mouthwash and the vinegar and of course tea tree oil which is common for killing fungus, but I didn't know about honey or olive leaf extract. I'm going to have to put those in my notes. Great job.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      There is one more herbal plant known as "gigantea swallow wort" plant.

      Its leaves and milk are applied for curing viral skin diseases which is also a best remedy to get out of toenail fungus.

    • HealthyLivin7500 profile image

      HealthyLivin7500 2 years ago from California

      That was interesting information. I'm going to definitely give some of these remedies a try.

      thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      LisaKeating 2 years ago

      I found this useful and informative. I was prescribed a medicine to take for this condition and had a severe allergic reaction. I then had to take steroids (shots and pills) to get rid of the rash. Another doctor suggested Listerine, but it takes a long time and you have to soak in it faithfully. Anything seems better than the reaction I had.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 2 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Very useful and relative because I've developed a toe fungus. I intend to try some of these. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 2 years ago from Dominica

      Interesting! Some useful, easy to use remedies here. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      John 2 years ago

      I am using tea tree oil and something called Kerasal Nail. I started a blog where I take a picture every week to document whether it's actually working. I am doing this because most people aren't willing to take pictures of their feet, so there aren't many good before and after pictures.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

    • sweetstickyrainbo profile image

      sweetstickyrainbo 2 years ago

      I love the natural ingredients that you list.

      Even diluted bleach could be harsh. But then again I think they use bleach to disinfect drinking water during emergencies.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 7 months ago from New Jersey

      Very interesting. For some reason I always get fungus infections in both of my big toes. It just took a year for one of the ugly nails to grow out, and then it came back again. I have tree tea oil, and oil of oregano is supposed to work too. I wear custom orthodics in my shoes, I guess I have to air them out more.

    • profile image

      Dave 4 months ago

      + 1 for the Vick Vapor Rub for Toe Nail Fungus. I've been smearing it on my toe nails before I go to work, as I have NO time to soak my feet. About 1 month later, just a little remaining on my big toes. You can buy the generic at Walmart for under $ 2...

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