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Toenail Fungus Home Remedies

Updated on May 2, 2017
Better in Violet profile image

These are the home remedies I've used to successfully treat toenail fungus. I hope you will find these remedies helpful, too.

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.

My goal in writing this article is to familiarize people with simple home remedies that can be used to treat this common condition. Between school, work, and caring for family members, many of us don't have the time to visit the doctor in our regular schedules. Fortunately, it's very easy to treat toenail fungus using items from your own kitchen or bathroom.

This article is based on my own experiences with toenail fungus, as well as the experiences of family and friends. I have personally tried five out of the six remedies on this list and have found them to be effective.

Signs and Symptoms of Toenail Fungus

According to leading health websites such as WebMD and MayoClinic, a toenail with fungus is much thicker and often yellowish in color. It can also be brown, black, or green. As the infection weakens the nail, it typically begins to crack or chips 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.

WebMD suggests that prescription creams and gels may be helpful in treating toenail fungus. There are also simple things you can do to prevent the problem in the first place. If you frequently suffer from toenail fungus, try your best to avoid:

  • wearing warm footwear
  • wearing shoes that don't fit properly
  • walking barefoot in public areas, where germs are present

Natural Treatments

I have tried most of these home treatments and found them to be effective. Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure you prepare your toenail properly before applying any product.

Before You Begin

  1. Push back the skin from around the infected toenail so that the product can be fully absorbed.
  2. Use a nail file or a small pair of scissors to gently scrape away any dead skin and push the cuticles back.
  3. Cut back any excess nail so that the infected nail bed is as exposed as possible.
  4. Use a foot bath to clean the toe, then dry your foot well. This will help keep the infection from spreading.

Note: While your toe is healing, I've found it's best to wear loose socks or walk around barefoot whenever possible. This ensures the infected toe is getting enough air, which will speed up the healing process.

Home Remedy #1: Apple Cider Vinegar

I have found apple cider vinegar to be a very effective remedy for toenail fungus. The vinegar is made from fermented organic apples and has a variety of medicinal applications.

During a bout of fungus, I applied the vinegar liberally to the affected area every night for two weeks. The vinegar stung a bit as it was applied but otherwise I found the procedure painless. By the end of the first week, I noticed a significant reduction in the surface area of the fungus. I also drank about a teaspoon of vinegar mixed in warm water every morning before breakfast, which helped speed up the healing process.

Important: If you try this remedy, make sure you use vinegar 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. Regular apple cider vinegar is clear with a reddish tint and is ineffective on toenail fungus.

Home Remedy #2: Salt

In my personal experience, salt is another effective remedy for toenail fungus. Epsom salt in particular is great because 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.

When I was suffering from toenail fungus, I regularly took baths in Epsom salt. All I needed to do was add two handfuls to my bath and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. This softened the skin around the fungus and within a few weeks, the fungus itself began to disappear.

Important: Use a towel to gently pat your toe dry after a bath. Rubbing too vigorously with a towel could cause the infection to get worse.

Home Remedy #3: Honey

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

I've used honey to treat skin wounds and infections before, including toenail fungus. Honey is effective because it contains hydrogen peroxide, which helps kill bacteria and can even heal burns. As an antifungal, honey treats toenail fungus by drawing toxins out of the foot.

The best way to use honey is to apply a small spoonful to your toenail and then wrap the affected area with gauze. This method can get messy, but it really works. After only a week of using honey on my toenail, I began to see noticeable results.

Home Remedy #4: 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. I've used tea tree oil to cure skin infections, including toenail fungus, by adding a few drops to a cotton swab and gently dabbing it on the affected area. It's best to do this in the evening so that the oil has time to work on the skin as you sleep.

Home Remedy #5: Mouthwash

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.

This is another remedy I've tried with great success. All I did was add a few tablespoons of mouthwash to a basin full of water and soaked my feet for about 20 minutes. You can repeat this process two or three times a week for as long as it takes the fungus to resolve.

Home Remedy #6: Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub is a conventional cold medication that is sold in most drugstores. I have not personally tried it as a remedy for toenail fungus but know family members who found it very effective.

The best way to use VapoRub is to apply it to the toenail before bed. You can repeat this process each night for 1-2 weeks. Most of my family members who tried this remedy saw an improvement in the color and texture of the toenail within a few days.

Sources

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    • profile image

      Adrienne 8 weeks ago

      I've saved this awesome information. I can't wait to try an effective one for me.

    • profile image

      Dave 11 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...

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 14 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.

    • 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.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

    • 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. Nailfungusdiary.com. 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.

    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 2 years ago from Dominica

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

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 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!

    • profile image

      LisaKeating 3 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.

    • HealthyLivin7500 profile image

      HealthyLivin7500 3 years ago from California

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

      thanks for sharing.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 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.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 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 3 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.

    • profile image

      chelletlaudato 3 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!

    • 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.

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 4 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 :)

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 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.

    • Majidsiko profile image

      Majidsiko 4 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.

    • Better in Violet profile image
      Author

      Better in Violet 4 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.

    • Schoolmom24 profile image

      Schoolmom24 4 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!

    • munirahmadmughal profile image

      munirahmadmughal 4 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.