Nail fungus is an unsightly issue that is probably more common than most people think. Millions are impacted by nail fungus. That number leaps to a whopping 50% for those over the age of 70.
Toenail fungus will not go away on its own and requires treatment. There are several FDA-approved topical and oral medications to treat nail fungus available by prescription, but there is one treatment that is being promoted all over the Internet that does not require you to seek medical intervention.
You’ll be surprised to find out that something you probably already have in your pantry is being hailed as an effective treatment: Apple cider vinegar for nail fungus.
In this article, we are going to look at why apple cider vinegar is supposed to be effective against nail fungus, how it’s recommended to use to treat nail fungus, and most importantly: if it works.
What is nail fungus?
Nail fungus, or onychomycosis, more commonly affects toenails, but can also affect fingernails as well. Nail fungus occurs when fungi get between the toenail and tissue underneath the nail, also called the nail bed. It often begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the nail.
As the fungal infection spreads and goes deeper into the nail, it causes the nail to discolor and become opaque, thicken and crumble at the edge.
How do you get nail fungus?
The most common ways you can get nail fungus are:
- Small cracks or cuts in your nail or the surrounding tissue can allow moulds and yeast (both a type of fungus) to develop, which can enter the nail.
- An existing fungal infection can spread to your nails. For example, if you have Athlete’s foot, it can spread to your toenails and cause nail fungus.
- An unsanitary nail salon is a way you can contract a nail-to-nail fungal infection. If the equipment is not properly sterilized between clients, your nail technician could be spreading someone else’s nail fungus to your nails.
Why is it important to treat nail fungus?
All fungal infections are contagious and can spread quickly. Nail fungus can not only be contracted from an existing fungal infection from another part of your body, but nail fungus can also spread and create a fungal infection to another part of your body.
That’s to say, not only could Athlete’s foot cause a toenail infection, your toenail infection can cause athlete’s foot.
Not only is it important to treat nail fungus so it doesn’t spread elsewhere, but it’s also important to treat any other fungal infections you may have.
This will avoid the risk of infecting or re-infecting your nails, after treating your nail fungus.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Nail Fungus
It’s easy to understand why a medical issue that is not life-threatening would have people seeking out alternatives and home remedies to going to a doctor.
Some people don’t like doctors.
Some people would rather try to see if they can treat an infection on their own before spending the money on doctor visits and prescription medicine.
With a lot of supporting anecdotal evidence out there, apple cider vinegar seems to have come to the rescue, but does it actually work?
Why does apple cider vinegar kill nail fungus?
Now the premise behind Apple cider vinegar as a cure for nail fungal is that vinegar is acidic. The acid gives it antifungal and antibacterial properties. Vinegar slows down the growth of some types of foot fungus and may even get rid of it entirely.
That all having been said, there is no scientific evidence that shows apple cider vinegar is a reliable method for treating nail fungus.
However, the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology published a recommendation in September of 2017, which calls for a “vinegar sock soak” whereby it’s suggested that those trying to treat toenail fungus:
- Don a pair of old cotton socks
- Pour a few spoons of plain or apple-cider vinegar and a few spoons of water over the toes
- Let sit 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the socks
- Apply topical antifungals
- Go to bed for the night.
Even with the endorsement of the dermatology profession, this suggestion still requires the use of a topical antifungal in addition to vinegar.
How much apple cider vinegar do you use for nail fungus?
Now if you go on the idea of just using apple cider vinegar on its own to create a foot or hand soak, then it’s recommended to use one part vinegar to two parts warm water.
Soak feet or hands for 20 minutes daily.
How long does apple cider vinegar take to cure toenail fungus?
A vinegar soak may work for some people, but it is unlikely to work for particularly stubborn nail fungal infections that have gone untreated for a long time.
If you catch it early and are one of the lucky ones for which this actually might work, it’s estimated that it may take 6-12 months of daily foot soaks to treat.
That’s a lot of time!
Over the Counter Nail Fungus Treatments
Apart from Apple Cider Vinegar, there are other over-the-counter (OTC) nail fungus treatment products available that promise quicker results than apple cider vinegar. Just note that there are no OTC products on the market that have been FDA approved for treatment of nail fungus.
Zane Hellas FunguCept Nail
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Zane Hellas FunguCept Nail promises visible results in 4 weeks. The most notable reviewer comments were the strong smell and that it may not be suitable for those with sensitive skin.
Some reported success, while others did not, and some couldn’t say because the product smell was so intense they did not use it.
Most of the OTC fungal treatments are actually for treating regular fungal infections, even though the photos in their product marketing show someone putting the treatment directly on the nail.
They will often have statements that say something like: “kills fungus that can lead to nail infections”.
Remember while most OTC counter remedies will work for regular fungal infections on your skin, nail fungus is far more difficult to treat and cure.
Fungi Nail Anti-Fungal Ointment
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This product received several reviews from angry people feeling like they were misled. As not only does the label, but the product information inside the package say that this product is not for the treatment of nail fungus. But the product is called Fungi Nail and all of their product promotion is designed as a nail fungus treatment.
In all fairness to Fungi Nail, all of the products that market themselves as an OTC nail fungus solution have to state by law that it is not for nails. That’s because the only treatments that have been clinically proven to work on nail fungus are prescription-only.
Like the product above, there are reviewers that maintained that using Fungi Nail as directed did result in improvement. Others stated simply that “It does not work”.
But unlike the product above, Fungi Nail is odorless, which is a bonus.
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Funginix Healthy Nail Formula actually offers a 90-day money back guarantee if you don’t like the product. There are some reviewers who swear by it. Others were disappointed that despite the positive reviews they’d read, it did not work for them.
There is no harm in seeing if treating your nail fungus with apple cider vinegar can work for you.
There are no detrimental side effects from a vinegar foot or hand soak. Similarly, you can try hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or Vicks. But don’t try bleach!
You can also give one of the OTC products mentioned above a shot. One may work for you, especially if you’ve caught it early.
All of the products listed above received fairly good overall ratings from people who claimed the products worked for them.
Those who did not give them good ratings were because it just didn’t work for them, some suggested the product they used made the fungus worse and spread to other nails, and others had a bad reaction to the ingredients.
So you can give the ACV or an OTC nail fungal treatment a try. But if you don’t want to be waiting anywhere from 6 weeks to 12 months to find out it didn’t work for you and you just want get rid of your nail fungus, go see a dermatologist to get an effective treatment plan.