Nail Fungus: What It Is & How To Treat It

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Sounds awful doesn’t it: fungus. Yuck! This is an infection along the lines of athlete’s foot in that it can happen to anyone, no matter how particular they are about personal cleanliness and grooming.

ItemsIt’s caused by organisms that find their way underneath a nail. You can pick it up at a beauty salon (if they aren’t cleaning tools properly), at the gym, public showers, etc.

People who are more susceptible to it are those whose feet sweat regularly, have diabetes, poor circulation or are elderly but it’s not uncommon to pick it up after some sort of chipping, splitting or damage has occurred.

Is it contagious? Yes, it can travel from one finger or toe to the next and from person to person. If you have it, wear shoes when using public showers and locker rooms and don’t share clippers or other grooming tools.

How to tell if your nail has it:

  • Color will likely change to yellow, brown or even black, may have white streaks or patches.
  • It can become brittle, ragged and flaky or become quite thick.
  • Can smell funky or is painful.

Confirming an infection: Your doctor will do a scraping for testing.

Home Remedies To Try

Because the fungus lives and thrives underneath the nail, it’s difficult to treat topically. Your doctor will likely prescribe medicine to help your body fight off the infection. If that doesn’t work for you or isn’t an option, you can try the suggestions listed below. Keep in mind that these won’t cure it but they can help contain the fungi so that new nail growth won’t be affected. Regular treatment can take months before you are free of it (as the old infected part grows out).

  • Vinegar & water: Soak 15 minutes each day in a 1:2 vinegar and water solution.
  • Tea tree oil: Apply a few drops to affected area at least twice daily, rub into surrounding skin then cover with a bandage.
  • Eucalyptus EO: same as above.
  • Grapefruit seed extract: Apply twice daily.
  • Vicks VapoRub: Rub this in covering the area entirely each morning and night.
  • Listerine Mouthwash: Soak twice a day in full strength Listerine mouthwash for at least 10 minutes a sitting.
  • Coconut oil: Use each morning and night (before bedtime).
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: Saturate the area with a drop or two daily.
  • Tea tree & lavender EO: Apply this 50/50 mixture morning and night.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Saturate with ACV twice a day.

Prevention Tips

  • Keep bare toes exposed to air as much as possible, try wearing flip flops or sandals around the home instead of bundling your feet up in slippers, shoes and socks.
  • Eat two cloves of garlic a day to boost your immunity system.
  • Keep a short and trimmed manicure so there’s less room for it to thrive.
  • Dry well after showering, paying close attention in between toes.
  • If you are susceptible to picking this up, try antifungal products: Spray feet regularly or dusting shoes with a powder.

Please Note: These are notes from my collection, none of them are intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. This information is provided for general knowledge purposes only.

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Published: August 17, 2011

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17 Comments to “Nail Fungus: What It Is & How To Treat It”
  1. Sandy Wheeler says:

    Vicks Vapor Rub really works. I took the RX drug for three months and it came back as soon as I stopped the medication. So I applied Vicks daily and wrapped the toe in “Press & Seal” plastic wrap to keep the Vicks in place. It took about 3 months of daily application and I was cured. It has not come back and it’s been several years.

  2. Brenda Archer says:

    I get my nails done at the local nail salon. After a while, the acrylic nails come loose and water gets under them. What a pain! They turn funky colors and I know it’s time to pull out my stand by remedy for nail fungus. That remedy would be anti-bacterial denture tablets!
    The anti-bacterial properties cure the bacterial fungus and the cleaners in the tablets get rid of that funky color. Just drop a couple tablets into a bowl of water and soak your nails. The tablets benefit not just the afflicted nail, but the rest of them as well. They help them nails to grow stronger and they take away any stains from polish or smoking.
    If you soak your hands or feet in a solution of denture tablets and water once a week, your nails will be healthier and stronger. Not sure, but I think it helps with foot odor too!

    • Lizzy G says:

      There is no such thing as a “bacterial fungus” – bacteria and fungus are two different organisms; fungus respond to antifungals or fungicides, and bacteria do not.

  3. Katie says:

    After trying everything I tried to figure out how I could just plain KILL the fungus by basic means.

    So I soaked my foot in a mild bleach solution. It killed bacteria and whitened my nails. After cleaning and trimming them when they were dry, I filled underneath the nail with nail glue. The topped the nail with a thick coat of nail glue filling every gap, and let it dry.

    I smothered the fungus. It had no air. Was sealed up tight.
    It was gone entirely in a couple months.

    • Brenda says:

      Similar experience…soaked months in Cider Vinegar water. Could tell it was helping, but not quickly. Painted my nails in summer and noticed area turnig a little black which was freaky; however, then I soaked cotton ball in pure vinegar and applied direct on nail – 10+ minutes at least 2x’s daily more on side of nail & fungus area. Used Q tips to apply vinegar direct to front underneath nail. Kept trimming them back too, treating nailclipper w/ vinegar before/after. Took some time, but now I have a beautiful new nail – no fungus. Also, kept reaaplying nail color (remove, clean, apply) and like Katie said I think it smothered the fungus.

  4. jane bennett says:

    i actually am successfully treating toenail fungus (which grosses me out,got it from having pedicures,done with those)with of all things-Oxyclean…i use a tablespoon in a gallon of water…let it soak for about 1/2 an hr a few times a week…it REALLY WORKS…and is safe to do…i also keep my nails trimmed short..

    • Rebecca says:

      Using a product for anything but it’s unintended use is definitely risky and could cause skin irritation.

  5. Carol says:

    I got rid of my fungus toenail with Monistat. A friend suggested I try it after the medication that my Doctor prescribed for me did not help.

  6. jane linley bennett says:

    okay….posted about the oxyclean….also vicks works WONDERFULLY…apply and put on socks…GONE in about 1 1/2wks…..seriously….this seriously works…you can use a store equivalant also…..that’s what i bought….

  7. Mathildia-lue says:

    Another thing to try, WD40. I used it for a few days and got rid of the icky stuff. Just spray on nail and wrap a band-aid around it . Do every day till gone. Doesn’t take long at all!

  8. TMC says:

    Both my big toes suffered from damage that lifted the nails which water became trapped. I was using tea tree oil for 2 years with very little success. I started using Listerine and within 2 weeks, it was gone!! So HAPPY!!

  9. Syl River says:

    I just went and had my nails done 3 weeks ago and now one nail has yellow discoloration like fungus, what can I do to get rid of it???? HELP!!!!!!!

  10. Jm says:

    Never use wd40 directly on skin. Specifically states on label.

  11. lennox says:

    I have had a fungus for 12 years ,I have tried lamisil and penlac for 6 months each and also other over the counter remedies . I am now trying vicks with little improvement. My wife now wants me to cut my toe off ! HELP!!!!!!!

    • Danyel says:

      Something will eventually work for you. Keep trying. DO NOT remove your toe nails!!! It is very painful, very expensive, very ugly & they can grow right back, still with fungus! Just be aggressive with night & day treatments, one will work for you eventually.

  12. Liz says:

    My right big toe has about 1/3 of its surface covered in a more black than yellow fungus. The pictures of fungus that I see for toe nails doesn’t look anything like mine. Mine seriously looks like a black and blue bruise – but, it’s not. I’m going to try apple cider vinegar. If there is something out there that is quicker, stronger and safer let me know.

  13. Ruth says:

    Go to a dr immediately! Not to cut anything off but to gain control over the infection. They are nothing to play with. They can kill you very quickly.