Nail Fungus cure and home remedy, alternative and natural treatment for this stubborn infection by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 15 2014

Is there a natural home remedy for toe nail fungus that works? There is but it is a slow and tedious process to get rid of the infection. I have personal experience with this natural toe nail fungus treatment. Modern medicine may not be aware that there is a natural treatment or cure for toe nail fungus infection. It mostly involves soaking the toes in magnesium sulfate for prolonged periods, and following several very important recommendation. And, amazingly, the total cost for this home remedy is less than 100 dollars. However, in order to effectively treat a toe nail fungus infection, it may take several months or up to a year of daily soakings.

Natural nail fungus cure - You must follow almost all of these suggestions to clear your infection
I have come across a natural toe nail fungus treatment that works quite well, and could even offer a cure. This treatment is inexpensive and effective in the vast majority of cases, but takes a lot of time and patience. Follow all, or practically all, of these suggestions if you wish to get rid of this annoying condition. Unfortunately, even wearing shoes for brief periods daily could make the treatment ineffective.

Step by step suggestions
Go the the grocery store and buy a few large bags of Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate. Also buy several thick, heavy duty nail filers, often found in a beauty shop or online.

File the thickened nail down as much as it is comfortable before soaking. Keep the nails as short as you can.  Every day or two it is helpful to file the thickened nail down so that the Epsom salt has access to the deeper layers. A good time to file the nail is right before soaking. By filing away the excess thickened nail, it could make the Epsom salt more accessible to the fungus, speed the recovery, and cosmetically make the nail look better.

At least once or twice a day, preferably three times a day, soak your affected toes in a shallow pan or container with very hot water and a palm full of Epsom salt (a few tablespoons of Epsom salt). I used very hot water (boiled water cooled enough to tolerate soaking) for my treatment. I am not sure if room temperature water is also effective, but at present I suspect very hot water works better. I boiled water and added it to a shallow pan and as soon as it was comfortable to soak my toes, I poured the Epsom salt over my toes and nails.  I soaked my toes for at least 15 to 20 minutes while watching TV or reading a book. If the water was initially too hot, I would just dip my toes in it to get them wet, poured Epsom salt directly on the nails and waited a little till the water was hot but not overly hot to be painful. As your toes are soaking in the water, you can add more Epsom salt directly over the toenails to have a higher concentration of the magnesium sulfate right on top of the toenails. Let the nails be fully surrounded and covered with the Epsom salt. It really doesn't matter as much how much of the Epsom salt is in the rest of the pan. What matters is that there is a good amount of Epsom salt directly over and surrounding the toenails.
   You can purchase a toenail soak tray at toenailfix dot com.

If you happen to spend a lot of time by your computer or desk, keep your toes in a thick soup of Epsom salt as long as you can, the longer the better, even if it is several hours a day. This will speed your healing. It is a good idea to trim your nails very close to the skin, and file your nails as much as you can before soaking. In this case of extended soaking, you may not need to heat the water.

You can soak your toes in a shallow pan with about half an inch of water. One option is to put a folded towel under the pan so that the water is deeper on the toe end rather than the sole end. Add the Epsom salt directly on the toes that are immersed on the deeper end of the pan so that your toenails are completely drowned and surrounded by the Epsom salt-soaked water. This is worth repeating since it is the most crucial part of the treatment.

I am not sure if soaking the feet in Epsom salt more than twice a day will heal the toe nail fungus sooner, but if you are motivated to do so, and have the time, go ahead and do it three or more times a day. If you have the time and the motivation, perhaps four times a day could help you get rid of the nail fungus infection even quicker (or, you have the option as listed above of soaking your toes for several hours at a time while you are working at your computer). One option is to soak in the morning before putting your shoes on for work, then soaking again at lunch or mid afternoon, and again before going to bed. The idea is to not let too much time pass between soaking to prevent the fungus from growing.

In order for this natural toe nail fungus treatment to be effective, you have to keep your feet out of shoes and socks as much as possible. Wear sandals as much as possible. The more time your feet spend in socks or shoes, the more difficult it will be for you to get rid of the toe nail fungal infection.

If you have to wear shoes, for instance at work, at least take them off during lunch, soak your feet in the Epsom salt, and wear new socks and a different pair of shoes the rest of the afternoon and take your shoes off as soon as you get home. Even better, put your shoes on at the last minute. For instance, if you drive to work, wear sandals until you reach the parking lot, and then put them on. After work, remove your shoes when you get to your car. People working out of home are fortunate since they can have bare feet all day.

Sleep at night with your feet outside of the blanket. If you feet get cold, wear socks with the tips cut off so that at least your toes are open to the air. If your feet are inside the blanket, the fungi will like the warmth.

Basically, the idea is to kill the fungus in the nails. Fungi love heat, moistness, and humidity. The cooler and drier you keep your toes and feet, the quicker they will heal. Magnesium sulfate acts as a powerful drying agent. Perhaps it also directly kills the fungi, but I don't know for sure. You will notice that treatment with Epsom salt will make your feet dry.

If you are fortunate enough to live by a beach, walk on the sand daily with bare feet.

If you are a construction worker or have to wear shoes daily for prolonged periods, it may be difficult to cure your toe nail fungus infection. If you are very motivated, consider taking a sabbatical for a few weeks to take care of your nails.

If you have toe nail fungal infection and surrounding athlete's foot, the magnesium sulfate soaks could help the skin, too. You could apply an anti-fungal cream to the skin around the nail, massaging it deeply. Tea tree oil is an good option. Toe nail fungus infection is difficult to cure. By preventing the spread of athlete's foot, nail infection can be minimized or avoided.

Dry your feet with a towel or blow dry with a hair dryer, including the space between the toes after you get out of the shower. Soaking in hot tubs or jacuzzis may not be helpful in the treatment of toe nail fungus, but I am not sure about this.

Reusing the Epsom salt
To conserve the Epsom salt and to prevent the need to keep buying a lot of it, you can continue soaking your feet in the same Epsom salt soup for several days in a row.

Prevention
Wash your feet with water and soap, then dry them thoroughly. Don't go barefoot in a public shower or sauna. Wear a pair of flip flops or sandals. Change your socks and shoes more than once daily. Keep toenails trimmed straight across. Wear properly-fitting shoes that are made of breathable materials, and skip very tight hosiery. Wear socks made of synthetic materials, rather than cotton or wool, to help draw moisture away from the skin. Regularly disinfect any clippers or scissors used to care for the feet.

Other natural treatment options

Garlic
Email - Got rid of my toe fungus by soaking my toes / feet in warm vinegar water 2-3 times a day till water cooled for couple of days then I put crushed garlic on gauze and taped it over my toenail 2 nights and fungus cleared up (be careful if you use garlic, it will scald skin around toenail).

Q. I want to get rid of my toe nail fungus. Does vinegar work?
   A. I don't have much experience with the use of vinegar.

Magnifying glass
My name is Charles E. Smith and I am a student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg VA. I have an alternate method that is simple, cheap and effective for me that I would like to share and perhaps hear your comments about. You may use my name on your website. This is what I did:
1. Bought a 6 inch diameter magnifying glass from Walmart but probably all kinds of such magnifying glasses would also be of benefit.
2. Using the magnifying glass I focused sunlight on the affected regions of my big toenail, moving the focused beam around the nail for a period of about 1 minute. I felt a slight but not painful burning sensation.
3. I did this treatment every other day for about 10 days. Thereafter I did the treatment about once a month or as I felt might be needed.
4. In a couple of weeks you could see evidence of toenail growth that was free of the fungus growing from the cuticle.
5. It took about 1 year for the nail to fully grow out , but it was free of the fungus and discoloration.
6. I use antifungal crème regularly to prevent reinfection. I hope this may help somebody.

Putting the Epsom salt in socks, a suggestion by a reader
Another option, which is sort of pleasant once you get used to it, is to take a few tablespoons of the Epsom salts and place then into clean high top socks, preferably with some internal fluff designed into the sock, and wear them all the time including to bed. Change them every day or two to a different pair. If the Epsom salts, which you can feel as you walk (like walking in a beach!) gets a little too rough for your feet, you can grind the salts down to a fine powder with an old strong blender. It will likely dull the blades over time. The salts will continually cover your foot and nails with a fine dust, and sweating may actually help control the fungus by dissolving the Epsom sales into your skin and nails. It seems to work faster than standard treatments, and works on foot fungi (including nails) of all types. Keep this treatment going a little beyond the disappearance of all fungal activity just to be sure. You may wear out the socks a little faster with this method, but wouldn't it be worth it?
   This helpful hint was provided by Nyles Bauer, an expert in Immunology.

Nim tree testimonial
A few year ago I wrote you that the treatment of a toe nail fungus of my wife was effective using Epson salt as recommended by you. Now I want to inform you that I treated my toe nail fungus effectively using a nim tree soup. It so happens that nim tree grows in the area were we live. I gather a bundle of nim tree leaves, put it in a water pot and bring water to boil. Then I let simmer for 30 minutes. I soaked my toe 3 times for 10minutes at 3 days interval in this nim tree soup. That completely arrested the fungus.

Tea tree oil for toe nail fungus
I have been asked many times whether tea tree oil cream is an effective treatment for toe nail fungus. I only have limited experience in this area, but I have not found tea tree oil to be effective as a cure for toe nail fungus. However, tea tree oil has better potential for athlete's foot, or tinea pedis.

Symptom of nail fungus infection
Here are some common symptoms of a toenail fungal infection, courtesy of the American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine:
Yellow or discolored toenails.
Toenails that are very thick and difficult to cut.
Toenails that have separated from the nail bed.
Crumbling toenails.

Standard nail fungus treatment  - medication
Surgical, chemical, topical, and oral methods are common. Severe nail fungus infections may be treated with oral antifungal agents or combinations of oral agents and oral antifungals or oral and topical lacquer antifungals. The three systemic toe nail fungus treatments approved by the US Food and Drug Administration include terbinafine, itraconazole, and griseofulvin. Typically, oral toe nail fungus medications are used reluctantly by patients since the potential for liver or kidney side effects and medication interactions may be significant.

Lasers Surg Med. 2013 Dec 24. A review of lasers and light for the treatment of onychomycosis. This is a common fungal infection that affects many individuals. Systemic therapies are effective, but are limited by their side effects and potential for hepatotoxicity. Topical therapies have less serious side effects, yet provide only limited efficacy due to their inability to penetrate the nail plate. These limitations have led to the investigation of laser and light-based modalities as alternative treatment options.

Nail fungus natural remedy questions
Q. Will Epsom salt also work for finger nails as well as it doe for toe nail fungus infection?
   A. I don't have personal experience with finger nail fungus treatment but I would suspect that the Epsom salt treatment would also be a natural remedy for fungus infected finger nails.

Q. While treating nail fungus infection with Epsom salt, does it help to soak more than 3 times a day?
   A. We think the minimum is once a day, twice a day could be better, but we are not sure if 3 or 4 times a day would even be more effective.

Q. I am a subscriber to your newsletter and today read of your home remedy for toe nail fungus using Epson salts. I publish a free monthly newsletter on foot care and would like to use the text, from your web site in my newsletter, with credit, links to your web site and the toe nail fungus article web page, and the suggestion that my readers subscribe to your newsletter. My newsletter web site is http://www.vonhof.typepad.com/fixingyourfeet.
   A. Yes, you may use the info as long as a link is made and the source identified.

Q. I have often but not always cured toe nail fungus by making a homeopathic potency from the patient's toenails & telling them to take it twice daily for at least 3 weeks. Some times they need another course to follow the first, using a higher potency eg 200c, if 30c did not work.

Q. Concerning Toe Nail Fungus: I have used Epsom salt soaks daily and Vicks Am and PM. -- rubbed into the nail plate. It has taken awhile--but the fungus is nearly gone. I have had friend's try the same treatment with good success.

Q. I have onycholysis --thickening of the skin of the nail bed at the top part of the toenail. Do you know whether the epsom salt treatment would help that? I haven't been able to find out whether it's also a fungus.
   A. Onycholysis is defined as a separation of the nail plate starting at the distal free margin and progressing proximally. If the cause is due to a fungus, it is possible the Epsom salt could be helpful but we can't predict.

Q. I read with interest your article on Epsom salts. I have one nail that has nagged me for years, I no sooner think I have it cleared up and it starts all over. What I want to tell you though is that did you know Epsom salts comes in a gel form? We use the gel in boots for the horses when they get a bruised or abscessed hoof and we need to draw it out. I am thinking I could put some of the gel on a Band-Aid and cover the nail with it at times that I need to wear socks and shoes.
   A. This is interesting, perhaps the Epsom salt gel form could help with toe nail fungus infection. Please keep us updated. See Epsom salt for a link to a site that sells Epsom salt gel.

Q. You struck a cord with me with the Epsom salts. Add about ten drops of grapefruit seed extract to the soak solution for a very effective fungicidal preparation. I use Epsom salt as a sheath cleanser for breeding stallions and have not had any problems in our breeding sheds for years.

Q. I am a medical doctor and using Epsom salt is an interesting idea. Years ago I vacationed on Puerto Rico, and I was in the sea a lot. My toenail fungus almost remitted over the course of 2 weeks; for several reasons, I wish I could have stayed longer. Sea water is another very drying agent! For several months I have been trying Vicks Vapor rub. Definitely makes the nail look better within days, but when I stopped using it, the nail began again to yellow within weeks. The effect may be cosmetic instead of curative. Keep up the interesting work!

Q. I have had excellent success with vinegar soaks curing toe fungus; especially alternating with Oil of Oregano topically applied. Every day at least once a day: white vinegar full strength, blot or air dry, put on clean socks (I am suspecting slight vinegar dampness in the sock is good, actually). Use tupperware container filled enough to cover
toes, allow foot to fit. Used the same vinegar multiple times [it's acid, will not go bad or allow fungus to grow]; of course feet were washed in shower or soap and water prior to soaking.
   Oil of oregano: initially I was simply putting it on (1-3 drops, and spreading) fungus cracked skin (might sting a little), and infected toenail: sanded down to expose toenail fungus areas. This had major fungus reduction "started", and eliminated fungus in all skin areas. There was definitely a significant reduction in the toenail as well, which adding the vinegar soaking has increased. The does not really dry, seemed like having freshly washed feet, apply the oil on specific areas, rub in if skin, cover with clean socks. Brands used: Oreganol P 73 [ NorthAmerican herb & spice, Buffalo Grove Il 60089 ], and Nature's Answer Oil of Oregano. Seemed to be the more powerful of the two brands.

Q. I've had a fungus only on my big right toe. I have been using clotrimazole for almost a month now and really don't see that much improvement. I was told internal meds for that condition could affect the liver.
   A. Yes, taking oral antifungals could damage the liver.

Q.  I have been trying to get rid of my toenail fungus infection for a while, and cannot take medication orally, because my husband and I are trying to conceive, and were told that medication may harm an embryo. Is this true? Are you familiar with any fast-solution medication that is not harmful in this way? Furthermore, I am taking your advice and soaking my feet in salted water, and have a few questions in this regard- will regular table salt do the job? Is it OK to put nail polish to cover up the unattractive look of the toenails? Can I soak my feet in salted water with nail polish on?
   A. I don't have any experience with regular table salt in water as a treatment or cure for toenail fungus infection. My experience has been with Epsom salts. It is okay to use nail polish but I suggest filing the nail down daily before a soak. Nail polish can be placed over it once the soaking has been completed.

Q. My husband had been diagnosed with fungus on his feet. Now he is having problems elsewhere. He had to stop using Tinactin as it caused his testosterone to drop dramatically. What product would you recommend for foot and nail fungus? I have tried several of your products for other things, and they have all worked. Please help as he doesn't want to go to a doctor to be prescribed something.
   A. Soaking in Epsom salt should help., Topical tea tree oil may also be helpful.

I have splotches of white on a few of my toenails. The two big toes have the white and I have some pain in the corners. Can a fungus be white?
   In a less common variety of toenail fungus, called white superficial onychomycosis, the nail turns white rather than yellow or brown.

Nail fungus cure testimonials
Q. Dr. Sahelian, thank you for the Epsom Salt "solution" for toe nail fungus. I have been battling a slight problem with this for almost 2 years. After only 2 weeks I have seen significant improvement. Thank you so much!
   A. You're welcome. Most of the time it takes several months of Epsom salt use for the toe nail fungus to be eliminated.

Q. I have used a variety of toenail medicine all topical and I no longer have the horrible hard nail, etc. What I do have now is a fairly clear nail on the large toe on my right foot along with some cracks and the large toe on my left foot is not totally normal looking....rather a blueish tone but much better than it has been. I have been soaking my feet in Epsom salts for about two weeks and I have noticed an improvement. Thank you so much for your wonderful website.

Q. Thanks for your informative newsletter! About eight months ago I began soaking my toes in a solution of Epson Salt and water for my toe fungus. I had read about a toe nail fungus cure in your email newsletter and had put up with the toenail fungus for about 15 years, keeping it under some control with Tea Tree Oil applications. However, it never went away and had recently gotten much worse and painful. I thought when I read your suggestion, "Why not?" with a nothing to lose attitude. I am writing to tell you that IT WORKED! I tried to be consistent in the beginning, did not measure the Epson Salt, but put a few tablespoons in a half-full basin of warm water and soaked for approximately ten minutes daily. As the toenails grew out they looked well and healthy! I now do this about once a week, just to be safe, but feel I can now tell you that IT WORKED and thank you--I am very grateful. PS. I am a 69 yr. old diabetic (type 2) woman who is in otherwise excellent health, exercise several times a day and am very active.

I would thank you for the information on your website for curing nail fungus using Epsom salts. I had tried various remedies for over twenty years without success. I used a variation of your method employing Epsom salts that seemed to "speed up" the healing process that may possibly be of some interest. This process keeps the Epsom salt in contact with the toe nail 24/7 and seems to speed up the process significantly. The process is as follows:
File the nail down
Apply a thick layer of Epsom salt gel to the toe nail
Cover the toe nail and the end of the toe with 1.5" wide sports tape (coach's tape) forming a water tight cap so that the gel does not wash off when you bathe or shower.
Repeat process once or twice a week.
My toe nails, which had not responded noticeably to any other treatment, showed good progress each week and cleared up fairly quickly. It seems the point may be to keep the Epsom salt in contact with the toe nail as much as possible and this method worked for me. Thanks again for your suggestion.

Lavender oil
I live in Queensland, Australia - very hot, humid and steamy. A few years ago my right big toenail became infected with fungus infection. The nail became very thick, yellow and tusk like. The area around the toenail was very inflamed, tender and painful to the extent that I could only wear open shoes that allowed my toes to be exposed. I had sought medical attention and was about to have nail scrapings done to be sent to the Government department for assessment. If it was found to be that particular fungal infection, then the expensive treatment would be Government authorised for use at a reduced price. Prior to this, I had purchased a tube of ointment from the Chemist who assured me that it would work, but take about 12 months to see good results - and the cost of this small tube was A$20.00. Mentioned this problem to a friend on the phone one day and she advised me to use a daily drop of pure Eucalyptus Oil straight onto the infected nail. (Nails being porous, the oil would work through the nail to the infection site). I didn't have Eucalyptus Oil in my home at the time, so I used Pure Lavendar Oil. Within 24 hours, most of the redness had gone and the pain was almost totally reduced. I forgot to use the oil on some days, but all up, I probably used it about 4 times and found that the fungal infection had been cured. My toenail lifted and eventually came off as the new, clean nail grew up underneath. I have never had this problem since. I have told a number of my friends about this cure and it has worked for them, by using either Eucalyptus Oil, Lavendar Oil or Tee Tree Oil. We have been learning in more recent years just what our beautiful Aboriginals have known for hundreds of years about the anti-bacterial & other benefits of Eucalyptus & Tee Tree Oils which are derived from our native Eucalyptus Gum trees and our native Melaleuca (Tee) trees. I enjoy your newletters and the variety of subjects I am reading about. I have been heavily involved as a Respite Carer for the past 8 years, of Palliative patients who wish to stay in their homes instead of dying in hospital. I just wish more of my patients had knowledge of alternative therapies and were able to choose kinder treatments than Chemo and Radiation, that I believe removes any chance they may have had in fighting their cancers.

Vick's Vapor Rub emails
We have had a few people email us that they believe Vick's Vapor Rub helped their toe nail fungus infection. I have no personal or professional experience with the use of Vick's Vapor Rub. See The emails below.

Another helpful remedy for toenail fungus is Vicks Vapor Rub. It takes a while but the fungus will not grow in the environment. Several columns have been published in our local paper about this simple cure. I have used Vicks Vapor Rub and it worked for me.

My doctor said that Vicks vapor tub may help for nail fungus. What are your thoughts?
   We haven't used Vicks Vapor rub in our office, so we don't know. But if it acts as a drying agent, then it is possible Vicks Vapor Rub could help.

Garlic oil for nail fungus
Q. I noticed your notes on the Epsom salt treatment for under nail fungus and thought you might be interested in another approach that I have used successfully on my fingernails. The cure is to apply garlic (crushed or oil) to the affected site. I took this to heart and modified the prescription slightly; using latex gloves and garlic oil put several drops of the oil into the appropriate finger(s) of the glove. Put the glove on and wear for several hours. Repeat daily for three or four days. The fungus is killed and now the nail just has to grow back to normal. stubborn cases may require more treatments. If wearing the whole glove is too uncomfortable just use the individual fingers of the glove.

Q.  This seemed to work for me for nail fungus. Soak you toe nails in very hot water and bleach, also smash a fresh garlic button on top and in front of nail secure with a large bandaid and sleep over night remove in the morning repeat 3x per week on third week you will see less of the white fungus and your nail looking more normal. Soak for 15 mins. per session. also for women with yeast infection, smash a fresh garlic button wet it, wrap thread around tightly leave a 6 inch string and insert over night, burning and stinging wont be there in the morning, garlic kills yeast.

Iodine for toe nail fungus?
Q. Several years ago my daughter and I had a problem with toe nail fungus and were told to use clear or “white” iodine and it worked great. Now no one seems to have heard of this product. Was it banned or something? Do you know anything about it?
   A. I am not familiar with clear or white iodine for toe nail fungus.

Glycolic acid, vinegar, Daconil
Know this will be unusual, but after Vicks, clorox, vinegar treatments, none of which worked, I embarked on my own attempt. Believe it or not, here it is. After several years of trying, this one worked right off: Step one – put glycolic acid on toe nail twice a week for two weeks. Around edges of nail so it can penetrate underneath. Step two – spray area every day for about two weeks with 20% vinegar – this is a high potency vinegar you can get at garden centers for killing weeds naturally. Step three – now this is the strange one, I sprayed a garden fungicide on the nail and sides everyday for about three weeks. Used daconil. The fungus is gone. Toe nail growing back clear and strong. Will keep up the daconil treatment until toenail is totally grown out. BTW, reading your site, the clear iodine, also known as white iodine or decolorized iodine which can be purchased at Walgreens or CVS over the counter, strengthens the new toe nail. Toe nails are quite strong now. I think it speeds up the re-growth of the nail by making the existing bed turn into a nail. Like I said, believe it or not. It is the only thing that worked for me.

How Dr. Sahelian came across a nail fungus infection cure that really works
Back in 2002 I was working at a medical clinic that happened to have a ping pong table in the recreation room. During lunch I would play for half and hour with fellow employees. Understandably, my feet would get warm since I was playing in work shoes, and the rest of the afternoon my feet would be enclosed in a damp area in the shoes and stay that way until I got home. After a few weeks or months, I noticed that I had started getting athlete's foot and a few weeks later a toenail got infected with the fungus which spread eventually to 3 other toenails. I began to wear sandals whenever possible, began to use topical antifungal creams and tea tree oil. The athlete's foot got much better, but the nail fungus stayed and no matter what I did - I tried four different over the counter and prescription antifungal creams - nothing would work. In fact, the nail fungus got worse with the nail growing thick layers of the fungus, and it spread to 2 more nails. It was frustrating and disheartening. I would take long walks on the beach and it seemed contact with sand was making the cuticle less inflamed, but no cure. In November of 2006, I was having a family reunion with relatives, and my cousin's mother, who owns a perfume store called Duty Free on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks, California, told me that one of her customers had heard of a nail fungus cure. She also had a recalcitrant case of nail fungus and decided to try the remedy told to her by her customer. It was as simple as soaking in very hot water with lots of Epsom salt. After two months, she was cured. She told me how to do it, and to my great surprise, I noticed that within a couple of weeks my nail fungus was less irritated and showed signs of getting better, and within 6 months it was cured. I did follow all the suggestions listed at the top of the page in terms of keeping my feet out of shoes as much as possible and all the other details.