Have you ever gone for a pedicure only to be told you have nail fungus? Ick! Maybe your nail looks funny, is brittle, changed colors, fell off, or appears crusty? Do you have it on your fingers too? There are all sorts of medications that can help nail fungus, however they can have toxic side effects to you (not just your fungus) and must be taken for long periods of time.
When people want a recommendation for a more natural route, I suggest Vicks Vapor Rub (no affiliation) and today I read online about a research study that backed me up. In the February, 2011 edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, researchers looked at a small group of people over a 48 week period to see if applying Vicks Vapor Rub daily to their affected toenails would clear up the fungus. They found that 15 of the 18 people had a positive response to the treatment, with five people completely cured, 10 showing great improvements, and the remaining three not noticing a change. Other than smelling like menthol, there were no side effects noted.
I actually recommend that people apply it to their affected nails twice a day and really push it around their cuticle and under their nail bed as best they can. Leave it open for awhile to let it absorb, then put on socks. For example, after showering in the morning, apply the Vicks all over the nail and leave it while finishing up your morning routine sockless. At night, apply it a second time and give it a good 20-30 minutes before putting on socks and going to bed.
Anecdotally, patients have also told me about a liquid undecyclenic acid which is made from castor bean oil. Like the Vicks Vapor Rub, this is applied twice per day and left to air dry. To my knowledge, there is no research about this, however within 6 to 8 weeks a difference is noted.
To avoid nail fungus in the first place, be aware of where you are putting your bare feet! Always wear shower shoes if you shower at a gym or spa. Use those same shoes when walking from a locker room to a pool, sauna or whirlpool. Never go barefoot! When having your nails done, make sure the manicurist or pedicurist properly disinfects the tubs, their equipment, and washes their hands or wears gloves between clients. I have had to remind a few pedicurists who tried to use the same nail clippers on me as they did on someone else without proper disinfectant first.
Try the Vicks Vapor Rub if you’re looking for something other than expensive medication. Remember, you’ll probably smell like menthol and your feet might feel tingly. As a side bonus, you might breathe better too!
Derby R, et al. Novel Treatment of Onychomycosis Using Over-the-counter Mentholated Ointment: A Clinical Case Series. J Am Board Fam Med. 2011;24(1):69-74.