What is Toenail Fungus
A toenail fungus is an infection that’s characterized by swelling, inflammation, and pain in a toenail.
The medical term for it is onychomycosis. This infection can also cause nail discoloration, thickening, and crumbling.
Toenail fungus can affect several nails at once, but it does not usually affect all of them.
Many factors can increase your chance of developing toenail fungus, including sweating heavily, working in a moist or humid environment, wearing socks or shoes that don’t absorb perspiration well, having minor skin injuries, having a skin condition (such as psoriasis).
Also, this list includes living with another person who has nail fungus, having athlete’s foot, walking barefoot in damp communal areas (such as gyms, public showers, and swimming pools), and having other health problems (such as a weakened immune system, diabetes, or circulation problems).
Modern medicine has several treatment options for toenail fungus.
For instance, oral antifungal medication is effective for treating onychomycosis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these medications help a new toenail grow free of the infection, so it replaces the old one.
Side effects of oral antifungal medications can include skin rash, headaches, upset stomach, heart failure, and liver damage.
Another treatment option is to remove the nail with surgery.
Side effects of this surgery include pain and a lengthy recovery period.
While a new nail typically grows where the old toenail used to be, it can take up to one year for a new nail to completely grow in.
Home remedies for toenail fungi use dry goods and natural oils that often don’t have any side effects (unless you’re allergic to them).
If you’re struggling with onychomycosis, try one of these home remedies:
21 Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus
Snakeroot extract comes from plants in the sunflower family.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic discovered that snakeroot extract was as effective for treating toenail fungus as ciclopirox (a topical medication).
Participants applied snakeroot extract every third day for the first month, twice a week for the second month, and once a week for the third month.
If you decide to try snakeroot extract to treat your toenail fungus, try this schedule.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the tea tree plant.
According to Feet Genius, data gathered by the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database showed that the topical application of 100% pure tea tree oil (twice a month for six months) cured the toenail fungus in 20% of the respondents.
Additionally, approximately 60% of the respondents saw improvement in the affected toenail (within six months).
To use this home remedy, clean the affected toenail with alcohol.
Apply 100% of pure tea tree oil to the toenail, and allow it to soak in.
After 10 minutes, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub your toenail.
Repeat the process daily until a new, healthy nail completely grows in.
You can prevent reinfection applying this treatment for two or three weeks after your infection has disappeared.
You may want to consider mixing pure tea tree oil with a carrier oil (such as olive or almond oil) when applying it directly to your skin.
If you decide to use a carrier oil, create a solution that’s half tea tree oil and half carrier oil.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a multitude of uses, including being a good home remedy for toenail fungus.
Apple cider vinegar kills fungi and bacteria.
It can also keeps toenail fungus from spreading.
To use this home remedy, mix a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water.
Soak the affected toenail in the solution for 30 minutes each day.
Thoroughly dry your toenail after soaking it.
You should notice some improvement within a few weeks.
Alternatively, you can make an antifungal exfoliating scrub.
Make a paste by mixing a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with some coarsely ground rice flour.
Apply the paste on and around your affected toenail. Gently scrub the toenail with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
An added bonus of this treatment is that it helps keep your skin soft.
Baking soda is said to be helpful for treating urinary tract infections, cleaning teeth, and lightening skin.
It can also help treat toenail fungus.
Make a paste by mixing water and baking soda.
Apply the paste to your affected toenail, and leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing it off.
Alternatively, you can dissolve three tablespoons of baking soda in a basin of water, and soak your foot in it for 15 minutes.
You can also mix ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup Epsom salt, ¼ cup 3% hydrogen peroxide, and four cups of hot water.
After thoroughly mixing the ingredients, add ¼ cup of white vinegar.
Soak your affected toenail in this solution for 10 minutes.
Then wash your nail with clear water and thoroughly dry it.
Repeat this process twice a day for several weeks until you see improvement.
Lemon has antifungal and antiseptic properties, making it an effective toenail fungus treatment.
Put fresh lemon juice directly onto your affected toenail, and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Rinse it off with warm water, and dry your toe when you’re done.
Alternatively, mix fresh lemon juice and olive oil.
Massage the mixture into your affected toenail, and allow it to sit for a few hours before you rinse off your toe.
The olive oil in this mixture will soften your skin while the lemon juice helps fight the infection.
You can use this home remedy a few times a day for a month.
The same Listerine mouthwash you use to kill bacteria in your mouth can be used to kill toenail fungus.
Listerine contains alcohol and other compounds that act as antiseptics, which kill bacteria and fungi.
Fill a basin with Listerine mouthwash (or 50/50 Listerine and white vinegar).
Soak your foot in the solution for 30 minutes.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub the affected toenail.
Rinse your foot off with warm water, and dry it.
Repeat this process once or twice a day until your infection has cleared.
Caprylic acid is one of the fatty acids in coconut oil.
It can penetrate the durable cell wall of Candida and other fungi.
When the cells of fungi lose their protective coating, they dissolve, which kills the infection.
Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to your affected toenail, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
Coconut oil is great for skin health, so you can use this home remedy to treat toenail fungus as often as you like.
But before you begin using coconut oil on your skin, make sure that you aren’t allergic to coconuts.
If you develop itchiness, redness, swelling, or hives, you may be allergic to coconut oil, so you should not use this treatment.
Some people have success treating toenail fungus with Vicks VapoRub.
According to the Mayo Clinic, one study involving 18 participants showed that 56% of the participants had partial improvement in toenail-fungus symptoms.
Every day, apply a small amount of Vicks VapoRub to your affected toenail with a cotton swab.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano has analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-parasitic properties.
Mix one teaspoon of olive oil and two drops oil of oregano.
Apply the solution to your affected toenail, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before you rinse it off with warm water.
Remember to dry your toe thoroughly after rinsing it.
Repeat this process once or twice a day for three weeks.
Orange oil has antifungal properties, making it another effective cure for toenail fungus.
Use a dropper to apply orange oil directly to your affected nail.
Allow the oil to soak in for at least one hour before rinsing your toe off.
Pure orange oil may be too strong for individuals who have sensitive skin.
If you do, dilute the orange oil with a carrier oil (such as olive oil).
Additionally, citrus allergies are fairly common.
To ensure you aren’t allergic, apply orange oil to healthy skin before you try using it on your toenail.
Lavender oil is also good at fighting fungal infections.
Mix five drops of tea tree oil with five drops of lavender oil.
Then apply it under the top edge of the affected toenail (and the surrounding area) with a cotton swab.
After 10 minutes, rinse and dry your toe.
Repeat this process two to three times each day.
According to Top 10 Home Remedies, white vinegar is one of the best toenail fungus cures because it fights the fungal infection and restores the skin’s pH balance.
Evenly mix white vinegar with water. Soak your affected toenail in the solution for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rinse and dry your toe. Repeat this process twice a day until your infection has cleared.
White vinegar can irritate the skin. If your skin becomes irritated, add more water to the mixture.
And use the solution every other day, instead of every day.
Many people have success treating athlete’s foot, ringworm, and nail fungus with cornmeal soaks.
Pour a 1” layer of untreated white or yellow cornmeal into a basin that’s large enough to accommodate your infected foot.
Add just enough water to submerge the foot. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 to 60 minutes.
Then the cornmeal will naturally mix with the water. When the solution is ready, it will look like cornmeal mush.
Soak your foot in the mixture for 30 minutes before you rinse and dry.
Repeat this process twice a day until your infection has cleared.
According to Beyond Disease, research by the Department of Botany at the University of Toronto has shown that hydrogen peroxide is effective for strengthening the defense of plants’ cell walls.
It prevents fungi from being able to penetrate the plants.
Additionally, another study was conducted by Russian researchers.
It showed that a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide was instrumental in killing fungi at the radioactive Chernobyl site.
There are no studies on humans about hydrogen peroxide’s effectiveness in killing fungi.
But anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be an effective treatment for toenail fungus.
Mix ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup of white vinegar, ½ cup of Epsom salt, and four cups of hot water.
Soak a cotton ball in the solution, and put it on the affected toenail for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry afterward.
Repeat twice a day for several weeks.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
According to Rapid Home Remedies, a 1990 study showed that grapefruit seed extract was just as effective as 18 antifungals and 30 antibiotics.
Grapefruit seed extract can be applied topically or taken orally.
When taken orally, grapefruit seed extract is effective for treating thrush, nail infections, yeast infections, candidiasis, and athlete’s foot.
To treat your toenail fungus, apply three drops of the extract directly to your nail (two to three times each day).
Alternatively, add 10 drops of the extract to a glass of water and drink it.
Drink water with grapefruit seed extract three times a day to help with your fungal infection.
Turmeric has been medicinally used in China and India for centuries.
Turmeric has antifungal properties, which makes it good for fighting fungal infections.
To create a paste, mix one tablespoon of turmeric powder with a little water.
Apply the paste directly to your affected toe, and allow it to sit for two to three hours. Rinse and dry.
Repeat twice a day until your fungal infection has disappeared.
Epsom salt improves the health of your toe, removes toxins, and kills toenail fungus.
Fill a basin with enough warm water to cover your affected foot. Add two cups of Epsom salt to the water.
Stir until the salt has completely dissolved. Soak your infected toenail for 30 minutes once a day (or until your fungal infection has disappeared).
Epsom salt can dry out your skin, so use a moisturizer after you’re done soaking your foot.
Cinnamon also has antifungal properties. Dilute cinnamon leaf oil in water so there’s 1-2% of the oil, then put it in a spray bottle.
Spray the affected toenail once each day until the infection is gone.
In addition, you can enjoy a cup of cinnamon tea each day to internally fight the fungal infection.
Some people have had success treating onychomycosis with household bleach. There are a couple of methods you can use to treat your infection with bleach.
Alternatively, mix one part bleach with 10 parts water, and soak your foot in the solution for 15 to 20 minutes.
Rinse and dry your foot thoroughly after soaking it. Repeat daily.
Ginger smells good, and it has antifungal properties.
Chop some fresh ginger into small pieces. Add the pieces to some boiling water in a pot on the stove.
Allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove, and allow it to cool before you soak your affected toe in the ginger water.
As an alternative, you can directly apply the mixture to your toenail. Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to your nail.
You can repeat the application two to three times each day for two weeks (or until your infection is gone).
Garlic contains allicin (an antifungal agent). Mix two tablespoons of white vinegar with two tablespoons of garlic oil.
Directly apply the mixture to your infected toenail and the surrounding area.
Cover your toenail with an elastic bandage. Wash your toe the next day.
Once your infection is gone, there are several things you can do to reduce the chance that your toenail fungus will reappear:
- Keep your nails short and clean.
- Every time you shower, wash your toenails and the skin between your toes with soap and water.
- Wear socks that absorb perspiration. Polypropolene, nylon, and wool are good at wicking away moisture.
- Change your socks regularly, and always put a clean pair on.
Don’t use nail polish on your toenails. It can trap unwanted moisture.
You don’t have to worry about how to get rid of toenail fungus. There are many home remedies that can help you.
Try one or more of these treatments to help you effectively kill your fungal infection.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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