12 Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus & Best Prevention Tips

Managing infected toenails is easier with simple ingredients available in your home.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Vindhya L VeerulaDr. Vindhya L Veerula, MD, FAAD
By Monomita ChakrabortyMonomita Chakraborty  • 

Toenail fungus can be frustrating to deal with and unsightly to look at. Fortunately, there are some effective home remedies for toenail fungus that you can follow to get rid of it.

Toenail fungus is common and affects 14% of the people in the US (1). It is commonly found in the elderly. It usually results in discoloration and breakage. If left untreated, the fungus can harden the nails and spread to the other toes. While over-the-counter prescription medications are the best way to treat toenail fungus, people opt for natural alternatives to avoid their side effects. The good news is that there are various home remedies you can try along with prescription medication to bid your toenail fungus goodbye. Scroll down to know more!

What Is Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus is a common condition that affects the toenails. It is also known as onychomycosis, and it occurs when fungi colonize the space between the toe and the toe bed (tissue right underneath the toenail), resulting in thick yellow or brown toenails. This typically occurs through a cut or crack in your toe. It is highly contagious and can spread to other toenails quickly (1).

Toenail fungus can be caused by a variety of factors. Read the next section to find out all about it!

Causes Of Toenail Fungus

Nail fungal infections are typically caused by a class of fungi known as dermatophytes, which include species of Candida. Some of the common causes of a toenail fungal infection:

  • Poor foot hygiene.
  • Athlete’s foot.
  • A nail injury.
  • Previous infection.
  • Sharing personal items, like a towel or a nail clipper.
  • Physical contact with a person with toenail fungus.
  • Sweaty socks and shoes.

Curious to know how to get rid of this condition? Check out the most effective home remedies and treatments for toenail fungus in the next section.

How To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus

Home Remedies For Toenail Fungus

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a home remedy for toenail fungus

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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 a home remedy for toenail fungus

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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

Vinegar is a home remedy for toenail fungus

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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

Baking soda is a home remedy for toenail fungus

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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
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 that exhibit 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. However, if these home remedies are not proving effective and the infection persists, consult a doctor about other treatment options.

Medical Treatments

Toenail fungus (onychomycosis) treatment differs based on the degree of the infection and the type of fungus that caused the condition in the first place. However, the following are some of the most effective treatments for a fungal nail infection:

1. Oral Medications

Woman taking prescribed pill to treat toenail fungus

Shutterstock

Your physician may prescribe a medication to eradicate the fungus from your entire body. Since they reach the nail plate within days of beginning treatment, these antifungal medications are more effective. Treatment could last up to three months.

2. Topical Medications

Nail infections are occasionally treated with topical medications like hand creams or nail paint. They might be effective for mild infections, but they cannot penetrate the nail deep enough to treat a more serious infection. Topical therapy may be used in conjunction with an oral medication.

3. Surgery

In the most severe cases of toenail fungal infection, the toenail may be surgically removed or dissolved with acid. To increase the chances of the remaining nail growing back properly, this procedure may be done on just a section of the nail.

4. Laser And Light Therapies

These are also being researched as potential toenail fungal treatments (14). In addition, laser treatment has shown promise when used in conjunction with oral or topical antifungal agents.

Stylecraze Says
Choose footwear made from breathable material. They allow proper air circulation around the feet, making them less susceptible to fungal growth.

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.
Stylecraze Says
Always use sterilized manicure tools and disinfect your nail clippers after each use to avoid nail fungal infections.

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

Fungal nail infections have the potential to worsen over time. Therefore, you should see a doctor if the symptoms do not disappear after using home remedies, over-the-counter medications, and preventative care techniques.

Additionally, visit a doctor immediately if the symptoms deteriorate, such as:

  • If the nail gets thicker, more distorted, or more discolored.
  • If there is swelling, the skin turns red, or becomes warmer or tender.
  • Pus starts to leak from the infected toe and the surrounding area.
  • There are crimson streaks that appear around the infected toe.
  • You develop a fever.
  • The infection spreads further.
  • It becomes too painful to tolerate.
  • If you are diabetic.

The Bottom Line

Toenail fungus is a highly contagious condition that results in thick and yellow or brown toenails. Over-the-counter medications are often used to get rid of the fungal infection, but you can alternatively apply home remedies for toenail fungus to resolve the situation. Tea tree oil, snakeroot extract, garlic, baking soda, aloe vera, vinegar, and oregano oil are some of the most popular and effective ingredients used as remedies due to their antimicrobial properties and can prevent escalation of the infection. However, more research is needed to establish that they can reduce fungal growth, so it is recommended that you consult your healthcare professional if you see no improvement after using these remedies.

Frequently Asked 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.

How does Listerine cure toenail fungus?

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that Listerine can cure toenail fungus. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that a Listerine soak may help get rid of the fungus in a few days. To make a bath with this mild antifungal agent, mix it with lukewarm water in a 1:2 ratio or with vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. Soak your feet in this bath for 40-60 minutes every day till the fungus clears up.

Does Epsom salt get rid of toenail fungus?

Epsom salt may help get rid of toenail fungus by drawing out moisture and drying out the moist environment harboring the fungus. However, there are no scientific studies to validate that Epsom salt can get rid of the infection.

How long does it take for tea tree oil to work on toenail fungus?

According to a 2013 study conducted to show the effect of tea tree oil on fingernail fungus, tea tree oil took around 14 days to significantly reduce the fungal infection (15). A similar duration may be expected in the case of toenail fungus as well.

Key Takeaways

  • Numerous factors, including poor foot hygiene and coming in contact with an infected individual, can lead to toenail fungus.
  • You can use several natural remedies, such as tea tree oil, vinegar, garlic, or aloe vera, to get rid of toenail fungus.
  • Depending on the severity of the condition, you can opt for treatments like oral and topical medications, surgery, and laser therapy.
  • If the problem worsens and the nail becomes thicker, more deformed, or discolored, consult a doctor immediately.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Fungal nail infections (onychomycosis): a never-ending story?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047123/
  2. Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazole
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8195735/
  3. Novel treatment of onychomycosis using over-the-counter mentholated ointment: a clinical case series.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21209346/
  4. 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
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18671197/
  5. Antifungal activities of origanum oil against Candida albicans
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11855736/
  6. Evaluation of the antifungal activity of olive leaf aqueous extracts against Candida albicans PTCC-5027
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5490280/
  7. The use of ozonized oil in the treatment of dermatophitosis caused by microsporum canis in rabbits
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3768949/
  8. Vinegar as an antimicrobial agent for control of Candida spp. in complete denture wearers.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4327708/
  9. Efficacy of ajoene, an organosulphur derived from garlic, in the short-term therapy of tinea pedis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9009665/
  10. Antifungal activity of sodium bicarbonate against fungal agents causing superficial infections
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22991095/
  11. Antifungal efficacy of hydrogen peroxide in dental unit waterline disinfection.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17196007/
  12. Antifungal Effect of Malaysian Aloe vera Leaf Extract on Selected Fungal Species of Pathogenic Otomycosis Species in In Vitro Culture Medium
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5187399/
  13. In vitro antifungal effect and inhibitory activity on biofilm formation of seven commercial mouthwashes
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24724892/
  14. Onychomycosis: An Updated Review
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7509699/
  15. Antifungal Activity of Nanocapsule Suspensions Containing Tea Tree Oil on the Growth of Trichophyton rubrum
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11046-013-9622-7

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