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Treating Toenail Fungus: Which Home Remedies Actually Work?

Dr. Eman Elmi
February 11, 2023
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Toenail fungus is a very common, although unsightly condition that affects many people. Since it’s so common, many home remedies exist for toenail fungus treatment, but which ones actually work? We’ll look at ten commonly-used home remedies for treating toenail fungus and see how they stack up against traditional measures.

Toenail fungus is also called onychomycosis. Its most noticeable symptom is a white, brown, or yellow discoloration of one or more toenails. It may spread and cause nails to thicken or crack. Including these home remedies and prescription solutions, there are several potential courses of treatment.

Top Five Home Nail Fungus Treatment Solutions

These are five of the most common at-home remedies for nail fungus treatment. 

An individual toenail fungus may have mitigating factors, such as nail penetrability, infection severity, and the patient’s overall health. After the infection is gone, make sure to keep toenails dry, clean, and well-trimmed. Severe cases may cause pain and irreversible damage. If home remedies don’t work or cause side effects, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

1. Vicks VapoRub

While intended as a topical ointment for cough suppression, VapoRub’s active ingredients (camphor and eucalyptus oil) may also treat toenail fungus. According to a 2011 study, Vicks VapoRub had a “positive clinical effect” in toenail fungus treatment if applied daily.

2. Snakeroot Extract

Made from snakeroot, a plant in the sunflower family, snakeroot (Ageratina pichinchensis) may heal toenail fungus. 

In a 2008 study, snakeroot extract was compared to the antifungal medication ciclopirox. It proved to be just as effective as the prescription medication in a double-blind study.

3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil also called melaleuca and has proven antifungal and antiseptic abilities. The National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health cites some small-scale clinical studies showing tea tree oil’s effectiveness against onychomycosis.  

4. Oregano Oil

The active ingredient of focus for oregano oil is called thymol. In a 2016 review, thymol was shown to have antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Some treatments suggest using oregano oil and tea tree oil together. However, both products have risks of irritation or allergic reactions, and combining them could increase this risk.

5. Olive Leaf Extract

Olive leaf extract’s active substance is called oleuropein and is thought to have antifungal, antimicrobial, and immune-boosting abilities. It can be either applied directly to the area or ingested in a capsule form. 

A 2012 review found taking one to three olive leaf capsules with meals twice daily was a more effective treatment than direct application. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the treatment.

How to Get Rid of Toenail Fungus

If you ask a medical professional how to get rid of toenail fungus, they will most likely prescribe an oral antifungal. These may include medications like terbinafine (Lamisil) or fluconazole (Diflucan). These treatments are typically very effective, but have potential side effects, including upset stomach, dizziness, skin problems, and jaundice.

Home remedies can be an effective alternative for mild-to-moderate toenail fungus. These remedies typically have fewer side effects, but also less evidence of their efficacy. Some home remedies may take longer to wipe out toenail fungus than topical prescription medications or oral antifungals. Results may take several months, with a common chance of reinfection.

Get Your Toenail Fungus Treated at Diablo Foot and Ankle

Home treatments can prevent unnecessary doctor’s visits, but can also have limited efficacy. If there’s a foot or ankle problem that home remedies just aren’t solving, turn for help from Diablo Foot and Ankle. 

Whether it’s for toenail fungus, an ingrown nail, or other foot and ankle conditions, our professional staff is here to help. Schedule a foot consultation with one of our board-certified podiatrists today for more information.

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