Toenail fungus (onychomycosis) is a common condition that can affect one or both feet at once. Fungal toenails can appear thickened, discolored, and misshapen. Our guide to toenail fungus covers all the common causes and symptoms of this condition, as well as explores some potential treatments we offer here at Midwest Podiatry. There are also home remedies for fungal toenails you can try out.
Fungal toenails are usually treated with prescription oral or topical medications. Some of the topical treatments may need to be applied for up to a year before you see results. The difficulty of this condition is that toenail fungus can be persistent, and it often takes a long time to notice any differences.
Many patients prefer to try their own treatments at home before committing to a lengthy medical treatment, so we’ve put together the top 10 podiatrist-approved home remedies for fungal toenails.
1. Vicks VapoRub
Some of the ingredients in Vicks VapoRub may be able to help clear up fungus on their own. Specifically, camphor, menthol, eucalyptus oil, and thymol. These compounds are naturally derived, and many are used in herbal medicine recipes.
A 2011 study on Vicks Vaporub for toenail fungus found that 15 out of 18 participants experienced positive results; in 48 weeks, 27.8% were clinically cured, and 55.6% had partial clearance. The other three participants showed no signs of improvement, though all participants rated their experience as satisfactory.
If you want to try this remedy, apply a bit of Vicks Vaporub to your affected toenails daily. It can still take several weeks to a couple of months for results to appear.
2. Baking Soda
The absorbent nature of baking soda may make it an effective treatment for toenail fungus. It can also help neutralize the odor that many patients report experiencing with their condition. Baking soda doesn’t kill any fungi but can stop them from growing.
You can soak your feet in a few cups of water with a small amount of baking soda, or sprinkle it directly into your shoes. Another option is to add a bit of water to 2 tablespoons of baking soda and mix until you get a paste. Apply the paste to your toenails, let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. You can repeat this three to four times a day.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial qualities that may be able to stop a toenail fungal infection from worsening. Apply the oil to a cotton ball or paper towel, and apply some to your nails two times a day. You may find after several weeks of daily application that the appearance of your toenails improves.
4. Oregano Oil
The application and benefits of oregano oil are the same as tea tree oil. Thanks to bacteria-fighting properties, you may be able to use oregano oil to treat toenail fungus at home. Just a few drops two or three times a day will be enough to keep your toenails coated, and help ward off future growth.
Oregano oil’s key ingredient, thymol, is also present in Vicks VapoRub. Therefore, it may be even more effective than tea tree oil in some cases. You can also combine a few drops of oregano and tea tree oils for a more potent mixture, but be careful — some patients experience allergic reactions to multiple oil combinations, so proceed with caution.
Generally, these two oils are safe to combine, but you should speak to a doctor if you have any concerns. Also, make sure you carefully read the packaging of any oil products you buy and follow their dilution instructions.
Most essential oils need to be diluted with a specific amount of water based on the quantity you’re using.
5. Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract can be taken as a daily oral supplement to help clear up fungal toenails. If you prefer topical treatments, you may apply some of the extract to your affected nails instead. The secret behind olive leaf extract lies in the ingredient oleuropein, a powerful antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial compound.
6. Ozonated Oils
Ozonated oils for nail fungus are a thickened paste that has antimicrobial properties. Using ozonated oil to treat your fungal toenails can accelerate the healing process and boost your immune system.
Scientists make ozonated oil by injecting a high concentration of ozone and oxygen into an unsaturated oil. The result is a powerful antibacterial topical treatment that can be used to address many skin and nail conditions.
Apply a few drops of this oil to your infected toenails using a cotton ball twice a day.
Vinegar is one of the most timeless home remedies for toenail fungus. Its natural antifungal properties make white vinegar a great potential DIY treatment for patients with mild fungal toenails.
To apply it, pour some vinegar into a bowl, and soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing with warm water. Because it can also act as a disinfectant, vinegar soaks may help eliminate foot odor as well.
It can take two to three weeks before you notice results.
It might sound crazy, but mouthwash could be an effective way to finally get fungal toenails under control. Thanks to the antifungal ingredients menthol and thymol, you can use Listerine or a comparable mouthwash to treat fungal toenails at home.
We suggest a Listerine foot soak by pouring enough in the tub or bowl to cover your feet, then filling it with two parts water. You should soak your feet daily for 45 to 60 minutes. This may not be practical as a daily treatment, so try to do it a few times a week. On the days you skip the soak, dab some mouthwash onto your toenails with a cotton ball three times a day.
When it comes to treating foot odor, rubbing garlic on your feet definitely won’t help. But the vegetable does have strong antifungal properties that make it a popular ingredient in many home remedies, including one for toenail fungus.
Chop up a fresh clove, slightly crush the pieces, and apply them directly to your infected toenails for 20 to 30 minutes. Wash with warm water and soap.
10. Adjust Your Diet
Your dietary habits can help or hinder your body’s ability to fight off infections. Switching what you eat can help get rid of toenail fungus faster. You’ll want to opt for immune-boosting foods, vegetables, and fruits over frozen, pre-packaged, and heavily processed items. Whenever you can, eat whole foods fresh from the Earth.
Alcohol, refined carbohydrates, and high sugar content can all worsen or perpetuate toenail fungus. So, eliminate these from your diet as much as possible as you try to treat your condition.
When You Should See Our Doctors for Your Fungal Toenails
Contact our podiatrists if:
- Your home remedies do not work.
- Your symptoms resolve but come back as soon as you stop treatment.
- Your infection is getting worse no matter what you do.
- You experience pain in the affected toenails.
It’s Time to Treat your Fungal Nails
Midwest Podiatry is always here to help your feet feel their best. Please contact our offices today if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our friendly, passionate podiatrists. We’re always here for you!