12 Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus + Prevention Tips

Medically reviewed by Dr. Vindhya L Veerula, MD, FAAD
by Pooja Karkala

Toenail fungus, also known as onychomycosis, affects about 14% of the population in the US (1). It is a fungal infection that may spread to the skin surrounding the affected toe and other toenails as well. It causes your toenails to turn brittle and yellowish.

In this article, we have put together a few remedies that may help treat this condition and manage the symptoms. However, even after continued use, if these remedies do not succeed in treating onychomycosis, consult your doctor to test for any underlying causes of the infection. Read on to find out more.

Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be used to treat onychomycosis. Applying it topically can help treat the symptoms of nail fungus and improve the appearance of the affected nails (2).

You Will Need
  • 2-3 drops of tea tree oil
  • A carrier oil like coconut oil
  • Cotton pad
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a few drops of tea tree oil and coconut oil.
  2. Dab this mixture on a cotton pad and apply it to the affected toenail.
How Often You Should Do This

Apply this 2 times daily.

2. Vicks VapoRub

This decongestant is formulated using menthol that can help alleviate the symptoms of toenail fungus (3).

You Will Need
  • Vicks VapoRub
  • Sterile gauze
What You Have To Do
  1. Trim the affected nails and wash them.
  2. Apply some Vicks VapoRub on the affected nail.
  3. Cover the toe with sterile gauze and leave it on overnight.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this for a few weeks, every night before going to bed.

3. Snakeroot Extract

Snakeroot extract can help heal the affected toenail and alleviate the symptoms of toenail fungus (4).

You Will Need
  • A few drops of snakeroot extract
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix a few drops of snakeroot extract with water.
  2. Apply this solution to the affected nail.
  3. Wash it off after an hour or so.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times daily.

4. Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is an essential oil that possesses powerful antifungal properties (5). Hence, it can help alleviate the symptoms of a fungal nail infection by destroying its root cause.

You Will Need
  • 3-4 drops of oregano oil
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
What You Have To Do
  1. Add three to four drops of oregano oil to a teaspoon of coconut oil.
  2. Mix well and apply it to the affected nail.
  3. Leave it on until it dries completely.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times daily.

5. Olive Leaf Extract

Research shows that olive leaf extract exhibits antifungal properties (6). Its bioactive constituents can eliminate the fungal infection and make your toenail healthy again.

You Will Need

A few drops of olive leaf extract

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply a few drops of olive leaf extract to the affected toenail.
  2. Leave it on and let it dry.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times daily.

6. Ozonized Sunflower Oil

Ozonized sunflower oil may exhibit fungistatic properties. This can make it suitable for treating toenail fungus as the ozone can diffuse into the fungal wall, thereby inhibiting its proliferation (7).

You Will Need

A teaspoon of ozonized sunflower oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Apply several drops of ozonized sunflower oil to the affected toenail.
  2. You must cover it with sterile gauze.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this once daily.

7. Vinegar

A vinegar foot bath is one of the common home remedies to treat toenail fungus. This can be attributed to the antimicrobial properties of the vinegar solution that can also prevent further infection (8).

You Will Need
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • A shallow tub
What You Have To Do
  1. Mix all the ingredients mentioned above in a shallow tub.
  2. Soak your feet in this solution for about 20 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

8. Garlic

Garlic contains a bioactive compound called ajoene that possesses antimycotic properties (9). This helps garlic to fight the fungal infection that causes toenail fungus.

You Will Need

1-2 peeled garlic cloves

What You Have To Do
  1. Crush two cloves of fresh garlic.
  2. Apply this paste to the affected toenail.
  3. You must leave it on for half an hour and then wash it off with water.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2 times daily.

9. Baking Soda

Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, exhibits antifungal activity against fungal infections (10). This makes it suitable for use in the treatment of toenail fungus or onychomycosis.

You Will Need
  • 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • Water, as needed
What You Have To Do
  1. Prepare a paste by mixing baking soda and water.
  2. Apply this paste to the infected nail.
  3. Rinse it off after 20-30 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

10. Hydrogen Peroxide

A solution of hydrogen peroxide can be used as an antifungal agent (11). Its bioactive compounds can help eliminate toenail infection.

You Will Need
  • 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide solution
  • 3 cups of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Take a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and mix it with three cups of water.
  2. Transfer this solution to a small tub.
  3. Soak your feet in this solution for 20 minutes.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this once daily.

11. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has wound healing and antifungal properties (12). Both these properties can help fight the dermatophytes that cause nail fungus.

You Will Need

Aloe vera gel

What You Have To Do
  1. Extract gel from a fresh aloe vera leaf.
  2. Apply it to the affected toenail.
  3. Leave it on for 20 minutes before washing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

Do this 1 to 2 times daily.

12. Mouthwash

Mouthwash contains active ingredients like cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorhexidine, essential oils, fluoride, and peroxide exhibit that and antifungal properties (13). This may help treat onychomycosis.

You Will Need
  • Mouthwash
  • A bowl
What You Have To Do

Soak your toenail in a bowl of mouthwash.

How Often You Should Do This

Do this for 30 minutes daily.

The remedies mentioned above may help eliminate the infection and provide relief. Using these remedies in conjunction with medical treatment options can help you recover quickly.

Let us now take a look at how you can prevent toenail fungus.

Prevention Tips

  • Ensure that your feet are clean and dry at all times.
  • Refrain from walking barefoot anywhere in public spaces.
  • Make sure not to wear unwashed socks and unclean shoes.
  • Trim your nails regularly to avoid infection.
  • You can also use foot powder to keep your feet free of moisture.

These tips are sure to keep your toenails from getting infected. Let us now see when you will need to consult a doctor.

When To See A Doctor

Sometimes, remedies may not be enough as the infection may persist longer than it should. Always bear in mind that, if not tended to, fungal nail infections can worsen over time. In case you have developed an infection in your toenail that does not heal after 3-4 days, you must make sure that you visit your doctor.

The remedies shared in this article can help in speedy recovery from toenail fungus. If followed diligently, they can also help prevent further infection. However, it is important to understand that most of these remedies do not have a direct association with reducing toenail fungus. Hence, consult a doctor for guidance.

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

Can you get a pedicure if you have toenail fungus?

Yes, you can get a pedicure if you have toenail fungus. You will have to make the staff aware of the infection so that they use disposable and sterile tools.

Can nail fungus heal by itself?

Nail fungus does not heal on its own. If you do not tend to it soon, you might risk the spreading of the infection to other toenails.

Can nail fungus spread to other parts of the body?

If left untreated, it may spread to the other toes as well as the skin surrounding the affected toenails. This, in turn, can cause a condition called athlete’s foot.

13 sources

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    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047123/
  • Buck, D S et al. “Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazole.” The Journal of family practice vol. 38,6 (1994): 601-5.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8195735/
  • Derby, Richard et al. “Novel treatment of onychomycosis using over-the-counter mentholated ointment: a clinical case series.” Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM vol. 24,1 (2011): 69-74.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21209346/
  • Romero-Cerecero, Ofelia et al. “Double-blind clinical trial for evaluating the effectiveness and tolerability of Ageratina pichinchensis extract on patients with mild to moderate onychomycosis. A comparative study with ciclopirox.” Planta medica vol. 74,12 (2008): 1430-5.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18671197/
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    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11855736/
  • Nasrollahi, Z, and M Abolhasannezhad. “Evaluation of the antifungal activity of olive leaf aqueous extracts against Candida albicans PTCC-5027.” Current medical mycology vol. 1,4 (2015): 37-39.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5490280/
  • Daud, Fernanda Vasquez et al. “The use of ozonized oil in the treatment of dermatophitosis caused by microsporum canis in rabbits.” Brazilian journal of microbiology : [publication of the Brazilian Society for Microbiology] vol. 42,1 (2011): 274-81.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768949/
  • Pinto, Telma Maria Silva et al. “Vinegar as an antimicrobial agent for control of Candida spp. in complete denture wearers.” Journal of applied oral science : revista FOB vol. 16,6 (2008): 385-90.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4327708/
  • Ledezma, E et al. “Efficacy of ajoene, an organosulphur derived from garlic, in the short-term therapy of tinea pedis.” Mycoses vol. 39,9-10 (1996): 393-5.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9009665/
  • Letscher-Bru, V et al. “Antifungal activity of sodium bicarbonate against fungal agents causing superficial infections.” Mycopathologia vol. 175,1-2 (2013): 153-8.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22991095/
  • Szymańska, Jolanta. “Antifungal efficacy of hydrogen peroxide in dental unit waterline disinfection.” Annals of agricultural and environmental medicine : AAEM vol. 13,2 (2006): 313-7.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17196007/
  • Saniasiaya, Jeyasakthy et al. “Antifungal Effect of Malaysian Aloe vera Leaf Extract on Selected Fungal Species of Pathogenic Otomycosis Species in In Vitro Culture Medium.” Oman medical journal vol. 32,1 (2017): 41-46.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5187399/
  • Fu, J et al. “In vitro antifungal effect and inhibitory activity on biofilm formation of seven commercial mouthwashes.” Oral diseases vol. 20,8 (2014): 815-20.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24724892/

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Pooja Karkala

Pooja is a Mass Communications and Psychology graduate. Her education has helped her develop the perfect balance between what the reader wants to know and what the reader has to know. As a classical dancer, she has long, black hair, and she knows the struggle that goes into maintaining it. She believes in home remedies and grandma’s secrets for achieving beautiful, luscious hair. When she is not writing, she learns Kuchipudi, practices yoga, and creates doodles.
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