by Helen Chow, ND
Let’s cut to the chase. Nail fungus really, really looks yucky, off-putting…. hmmmm they are very not nice to look at. The affected nails get deformed and thick, yellow, brown, crumbly, or peel off in layers, and are mis-shappened. Not pretty to look at. And it can be embarrassing too. The infection can also give a dull, nagging ache which comes and goes.
The question we need to ask is why some people develop fungus and others don’t? How did this fungus get under the nail in the first place? It seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and now its presence is a pain (to the eyes, the psyche and the foot/feet).
Why are older people more susceptible than others? These questions can’t seem to get answered. Dermatologists have to blame someone, something, so they have a go at genetics, the immune function, circulation, athlete’s foot infection, nail injury or for want of something else, they point their fingers at “something mysterious” no one can pinpoint! But at the end of the day, none of these matter. All we want to know is this: What is the most effective nail fungus treatment?…to get rid of this….this….unwanted irritation.
Yes, you can try prescription medications, which may work. However, there are always side effects as with all allopathic drugs.
On the safer and holistic side, are home remedies, which are also less expensive. These require of you perseverance and patience, together with the attitude of ‘never-give-up’.
This is a problem that will take time to see proper results. It takes about 6 months on average for the new nail to grow, once healing takes place.
Different people have different reactions to the various treatments. Certain do very well with prescription drugs or topical salves, yet others don’t fare well. Others will swear by certain natural remedies while countless others may say ‘nay’. Remember that we are all different people with a different internal ecology. So what works for one person may not work for another.
Below is a collection of remedies. Read through and pick one which you may feel comfortable with and go try! And return here to give us feedback. Let’s learn from, and share with, each other!
I had toenail fungus in the little toes of both my feet at one time. How I got them, I really don’t know how, or even when. Now I only have it on the little toe of the right foot. The fungus on the little toe of the left foot healed – I don’t know when and I don’t know how. It’s a healthy little toe now.
I’m treating the offending toe with a mixture of VicksVapo rub, Eucalyptus, Frankincense and Lavender oil, and using the zapper from Ken Presner.
Medical Drugs for Toenail Fungus:
- Efinaconazole (Jublia) – daily applications over a year gave an average of 16% cure
- Tavaborole (Kerydin) – daily applications for a year resulted in approximately 7.5% cure
- do not really give effective results.
- Rather expensive: some of which would cost over US$100 per bottle, treatment requiring several bottles. In general, these are not covered by insurance policies.
- Terbinafine (Lamisil)
- Itraconazole (Sporanox)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
- Grisofluvin (Fluvicin)
- Extended duration of use
- Distressing side-effects including headaches, digestive problems, infections
(Kreijkamp-Kaspers et al, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, July 14, 2017)
- Liver damage
Available at certain dermatologists to cure this fungus. Treatment includes skin and nail treatment to eliminate the fungus on the toenails, the prevention of reinfection, and the treatment of the patient’s shoes. However, there seems to be no consistency as to its effectiveness. Numerous sessions are required. Probably not covered by medical insurances.
Zang, Sullivan & Shanks, Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, May 2017
Carney et al, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Oct. 2013
Home Remedies and Treatments for Toenail Fungus
Many people turn to home remedies for a cure. Medical professionals are usually skeptical about such grandmothers’ cures. However, there are numerous reported successes with natural remedies (which turn out to be cheaper) and also unorthodox methods. At the end of the day, if it works, why not? Results are what really matter.
- Vicks VapoRub
This is a remedy for chest congestions. It contains camphor (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic), eucalyptus oil (a cough suppressant) and menthol (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic).
The inactive ingredients in Vicks VapoRub include cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil. So one of these help to clear the fungus in the affected toe.
Dab the salve on the affected nail and also under the nail, where possible. Apply morning and evening.
The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (Jan-Feb, 2011) published the results of an experiment using this product: 15 of 18 people had success using daily applications of the salve on this infected toenails.
- Listerine and White Vinegar
Listerine mouthwash contains several herbal anti-fungal ingredients. People have tried this remedy by soaking the feet of their affected toes using a 50-50% solution of Listerine and white vinegar for 15-30 minutes.
White vinegar is acidic, and so helps prevent the fungus from spreading. Listerine contains anti-fungal ingredients. It is possible that the synergy of both Listerine and white vinegar together gives more potency than when used individually. This method calls for persistence, as positive results may take some time.
- Tea Tree Oil
From the Melaleuca tree of NSW, Australia. An age-old natural remedy. Tea Tree oil is a natural fungicide and bacteriacide, capable of killing a broad range of infections.
Very safe for topical use. Bonus is that it does not inhibit cell growth. Apply 100% strength tea tree oil to your fungal nail. Quite effective, although the smell is not so pleasant!
- 3% (drugstore) Hydrogen peroxide.
Soak feet of affected toe in water with the hydrogen peroxide.
Another way is to fill a spray bottle with the hydrogen peroxide. .
Spray regularly: wash and dry feet, spray, let the spray dry. Spray at least twice a day.
- SSKI / Iodine
Saturated solution of potassium iodide
An effective fungal remedy is 1 part DMSO to 9 parts SSKI
- File affected nail with a heavy nail file: across the nail before showering.
- In the shower, usw a stiff nail brush and Cetaphil soap with anti-fungal properties eg Cetaphil soap to scrub toenails well, both up and down and sideways.
- White Iodine
Use liberal amount of white iodine several times per day on the affected nail.
- Tincture of Iodine,
Apparently, this is effective!
- Grapefruit seed extract
The extract (seeds, membrane and pulp) is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial. Available in capsule or pill form for topical application. If you want to learn more about GSE, read the book by Dr Allan Sachs, The Authoritative Guide to Grapefruit Seed Extract
- Cornmeal and warm water soak
Apparently it works for some people.
Phototherapy may help kill toenail fungus. Purchase a phototherapy device with red and/or infrared LEDs. Shine it next on the nail for about 20 minutes once or twice a day. Repeat until the fungus disappears. Prevention: Use the device periodically afterward to prevent recurring fungus.
Other Home Methods:
- Epsom Salt and Hydrogen Peroxide:
Soak affected toe in Epsom salt solution, then dry. Paint fungal nail with hydrogen peroxide. Allow to dry. Do this daily until you see results.
- Urine therapy.
Soak the affected toe in Epsom salt solution, then paint the fungal nail with your own urine.
In the US Navy, the men were advised to pee on their feet while showering. Save up about a litre of urine. Store in a glass/plastic container. While showering, soak one foot and then the other while shampooing and washing. Then wash your feet. The nail fungus can clear up in weeks. Do the treatment about once a week just to prevent recurrence.
- Povidone iodine
Soak in Povidone iodine solution.
Note: Povidone iodine solution has significant antifungal activity (Oral Diseases, Nov., 2014), but it does stain the skin and nails a dark brown.
- Ionized Silver:
Local fungal toe nails would mean that fungus is also in your entire body. So treating the whole body would make sense. Try taking ionized silver orally. Watch your fungal toe nails for progress.
- Tamanu oil:
This oil is extracted from seeds that grow on a tropical evergreen called a tamanu nut tree. Tamanu oil and other parts of the tamanu nut tree have been used medicinally for hundreds of years by certain Asian, African, and Pacific Island cultures.
Squirt some oil on the affected toe nail. Put a plaster around it to keep the oil in place. Apply twice a day.
- Castor oil
Some people have had success using organic castor oil.
Apply with a cotton bud to affected toe nails. Cover with a band aid or cotton wool taped closed with plaster.
©Helen Chow, ND
- Vicks VapoRub