Can You Use Vick’s For Toenail Fungus?

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Toenail fungus is never a welcome thing to see growing on your feet.

Also referred to as onychomycosis, toenail fungus is notorious for being hard to get rid of whether you’re using prescription medication or something over the counter.

It can start on one toe, and if you’re not careful, can spread to all your toes and even to other people in your household.

By: Tatsuo Yamashita (Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0)

If you’re going to the doctor every time you or a family member has an infected toenail, that can get expensive – and most over-the-counter medications don’t do the job.

But what about something completely different? What about Vicks Vapor Rub?

Sounds crazy, right? But according to clinical studies and anecdotal evidence, it just might work.

How Did I Get Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus usually enters the nail bed when there has been an injury to the area, such as a crack or a split.

Once the fungus enters, the warm, dark environment that it finds in shoes and socks allow it to grow and spread. The fungus starts by growing under the nail bed, making it very difficult to reach with any sort of medication.

The standard treatment usually involves prescription medication or partial or full removal of the toenail. (OUCH!)

The fungus first appears as a black spot on the toenail. This spot can start to grow and your nail can start changing color as it progresses.

If you let it go, your nail may thicken, change color further, and even produce a foul odor (no one wants this). It is best to deal with the early signs before it turns into something really serious.

One of the main causes of toenail fungus is poor hygiene, and the chances of getting toenail fungus increase with age – men being more likely to get it over women.

This could be due to many factors, but most likely because men typically don’t take care of their foot/nail hygiene as much as women do.

Who Suffers From Toenail Fungus?

  • Do you sweat a lot?
  • Do you use a public pool or take communal showers at the gym?
  • Do you regularly go to a nail salon to get a manicure or pedicure?
  • Do you suffer from diabetes, malnutrition, a weak immune system, or have you smoked for a long time?

Unfortunately, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you are more likely to contract toenail fungus.

Why Vicks for Toenail Fungus?

Now that we know how someone could get toenail fungus, let’s talk a possible treatment: Vicks Vapor Rub. What is it about this cough and cold medicine that helps with infected toenails? Good question.

One of the ingredients in Vicks is thyme oil (Thymol) and it has been shown to remove fungus from underneath toenails.

vicks for toenail fungus

In the January-February 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, a study was printed in which eighteen people who were dealing with toenail fungus applied Vicks to the affected area.

Five of the participants were cured, ten saw their symptoms improve, and three participants experienced no changes at all.

Of the five people who were cured, only two kinds of fungus were identified – Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Candida parapsilosis. This suggests that the treatments effectiveness may depend on the type of fungus that someone has on their toe.

How To Use Vicks Vapor Rub for Toenail Fungus

While it can be tricky applying the Vicks to your toenail, with a few tips, you will be treating your toenail fungus in no time.

Once you notice the fungus, apply the Vicks immediately. First make sure your toenail is completely dry; as noted above, a wet environment can cause the fungus to grow further and spread.

Next, trim your toenails short. The less toenail you have to treat, the better.

After trimming, make sure you clean your toenail clipper thoroughly with hot, soapy water, and then wash it with rubbing alcohol. The fungus can easily spread to other toes if you use the same clipper without cleaning it.

Now start by using a spoon or something similar to scoop out the Vicks. You don’t want to be smearing the rub on your toe and then putting your fingers back into the tub. (Ew.)

Apply the medication thoroughly to your nail. To get to the edges, into the cuticle, and around the nail bed, use a cotton swab or a Q-tip.

Make sure to rub the Vicks in as thoroughly as possible, and then cover your toes with a bandage. This will help the treatment absorb rather than rubbing off on everything you step on. Repeat this process twice a day.

Over the days/weeks that you apply the Vicks, make sure to keep your toenails short so that the formula can soak into as much of your nail as possible. And be patient! This could take up to five months before you start to see some effects. (Remember, this is not what the product was made for).

While Vicks may not work for everyone, it does come with fewer side effects than any other treatment. So even if it doesn’t work, you will not have to deal with other problems besides the toenail fungus.

Prevent Toenail Fungus 

Whether Vicks Vapor Rub works for you or not, knowing what you can do to prevent toenail fungus in the first place can be helpful.

vicks for toenail fungus

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you are taking care of your personal hygiene, paying particular attention to your nails. If you’re going to the gym or a nail salon, look at your surroundings. Are the staff practicing proper hygiene? Maybe wear some flip flops or another kind of shoe if you are going to take a shower at the gym.
  • Try not to walk barefoot in wet public areas like locker rooms, public pools, or gym showers.
  • Be particular when choosing your shoes and socks. You want to manage how much moisture your nails are being exposed to. Fungi thrive in moist environments.

Have you tried Vicks for toenail fungus?