If your toenails are changing color and starting to thicken, you may have onychomycosis — a.k.a. toenail fungus. This common condition begins with a white or yellow spot under the tip of the nail. Eventually, the fungal infection will travel deeper, beginning to discolor, thicken, distort and crumble the nail at the edge. And while there are many over-the-counter products available, some come with potentially dangerous side effects.
This is why many people prefer natural home remedies. The good news is, there are natural solutions to help rid yourself of that nasty toenail fungus. Here are five you can try:
1. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has made headlines in the alternative health world for its many wide-ranging benefits, including everything from curing hiccups to aiding weight loss. But did you know another benefit includes curing toenail fungus?
Although ACV is one of the most popular natural remedies for toenail fungus there are no clinical studies available to support its effectiveness for this condition. Nevertheless, its natural antifungal properties help prevent toenail fungus from spreading.
When you get a toenail fungus, the nail itself becomes more alkaline. And fungus thrives in an alkaline environment allowing it to grow and spread to other toes. One of the main reasons ACV is thought to work is because it helps restore the pH balance of the nail and surrounding skin.
ACV Foot Soak
Treat your toenail fungus with this apple cider vinegar foot soak at home.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Warm water
- In a foot bath, add a 50:50 mixture of ACV and water. Stir to mix. Make sure there’s enough solution to completely cover your feet.
- Dip your clean, dry feet into the solution and soak for about 15 minutes.
- Dry your feet thoroughly. Repeat twice each day.
When buying ACV, purchase raw, organic and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. You should see some strand-like sediment floating at the bottom. No, your vinegar isn’t bad. Those floating strands are called “the mother,” and it contains raw enzymes and gut-friendly bacteria that promote healing when taken internally.
2. Vicks VapoRub
Here’s an odd home remedy for toenail fungus you may never have heard of: Vicks VapoRub! And it works, particularly if caught in the early stages. That’s because thymol, an ingredient of Vicks, is thought to inhibit the growth of fungus. In fact, a study published in the Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine found that Vicks VapoRub seems to have a positive clinical effect in the treatment toenail fungus.
Eighteen participants with toenail fungus who used Vicks VapoRub were followed at intervals of four, eight, 12, 24, 36 and 48 weeks. Photographs were taken during initial and follow-up visits. Researchers found that 15 out of the 18 participants (83 percent) showed good effects at 48 weeks, concluding that thymol could positively treat toenail fungus.
Here’s how to use it: Wash and dry your feet and nails. Then apply Vicks VapoRub liberally to the infected nail two to three times per day.
3. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, is an essential oil well known for its antifungal and antiseptic properties, and its ability to treat wounds. Derived mainly from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia, tea tree oil has been widely used throughout Australia for the past 100 years. Some small-scale studies, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, conclude that tea tree oil might be effective against toenail fungus.
Here’s how to use it: Paint the tea tree oil directly onto clean and dry nails twice daily with a cotton swab.
4. Oregano oil
Just like Vicks VapoRub, oregano oil contains thymol. Research published in Science Direct found that thymol has antifungal and antibacterial properties, making oregano oil effective for treating nail fungus.
Here’s how to use it: Apply oregano oil to the affected nails, twice daily, with a cotton swab. You may even want to use oregano oil in combination with tea tree oil. However, since both oils are extremely potent, there is a potential for irritation or an allergic reaction. Please use with caution.
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral commonly mined from dried salt lakes, mainly found in California and Turkey. According to Health Science, Borax kills all kinds of fungus and works particularly well on toenail fungus and athlete’s foot.
Here’s how to use it: Simply mix borax powder with baking soda and water to make a paste. Then wet your feet and toenails and rub them with the borax/baking soda paste twice daily.
Before you start treatment…
Since toenail fungus can look like other conditions, such as psoriasis, you’ll want to have your toenail fungus properly diagnosed by a doctor before trying out natural remedies.
Unfortunately, fungal nail infections can be difficult to treat and take months to heal. That means you’ll need to continue with a treatment until the old nail has completely grown out. However, hen used diligently, natural remedies can clear toenail fungus for good!
— Katherine Marko