Does Vicks Kill Toenail Fungus?

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Vicks VapoRub was invented more than a century ago as a cure for pneumonia and croup. Since then, it’s become a bathroom medicine cabinet staple for treating coughs, colds and easing chest congestion.

Recently, with the immense popularity of home remedies, Vicks has stepped into the spotlight in many ways, from a treatment for spider veins to an alternative treatment for toenail fungus.

In this article, we are going to take a look at Toenail fungus, what it is, why Vicks Vaporub is being used to treat toenail fungus. We’ll answer the question Does Vicks kill toenail fungus? Or is this home remedy more of an urban myth than a real treatment.

The answer might surprise you!


What is Toenail Fungus?

Toenail fungus is a widespread, issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Those numbers jump to 20% for those over 60, and an astounding 50% for those 70 and above.

Also known as onychomycosis, nail fungus occurs when fungi, which are normally present in and on the human body, begin to overpopulate.

If this overabundance of fungi gets between the nailbed and the toenail, it causes a nail fungal infection.

Nail fungus is characterized by a yellow or white spot that starts under the tip of the nail and as it progresses and spreads deeper into the nail, it causes the nail to discolour, thicken and crumble at the edge..

What happens if you leave toenail fungus untreated?

All fungal infections are contagious.

Apart from toenail fungus being unsightly, that toenail fungus can spread to the surrounding tissue and cause athlete’s foot. Not only is it important to treat toenail fungus, it’s important to treat any fungal infection you may have.

It can easily spread to other parts of your body including your toenails.

Toenail fungus can be especially dangerous if you have diabetes. It can lead to foot ulcers or other foot problems.

And chronic toenail fungus was shown to significantly increase the risk of bacterial cellulitis of the leg, according to a 2012 study published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Does Vicks Kill Toenail Fungus?

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Not only is toenail fungus extremely prevalent, but it’s also very hard to treat. It’s no wonder there are so many home remedies floating around online, most of which are completely medically unsubstantiated.

Every time there is another one, we really want to believe that this is the answer we’ve been waiting for.

From tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar to chopped garlic, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, and even bleach (!), there is a myriad of suggested alternative treatments out there.

Vicks is just one of the many.

Now it’s important to understand that there are no over-the-counter medications or home remedies that have been clinically proven or FDA approved to treat toenail fungus.

However, that having been said, some of the home remedies out there are based on ingredients that have antibacterial and antifungal properties.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there from people who have said they’ve tried this or that and that it worked for them. There are plenty more who have reported being unsuccessful as well.

The problem with the home remedies is that toenail fungus is tough. Although things like apple cider vinegar and oregano oil do have antifungal properties and may work for a regular topical fungal infection, toenail fungus is a lot harder to treat than a fungal infection on your skin.

This is due to a few reasons:

  • It’s extremely hard for topical treatments to penetrate the nail
  • The nail plate is very slow growing
  • Home remedy treatments require months of diligent use to see improvement if they work for a particular person
  • Although a lot of home remedies do have antifungal properties, most likely do not have enough to completely get rid of nail fungus for most people
  • The longer the infection has been present, and the deeper rooted it is, the harder it will be to get rid of

To add to that, a treatment that works for one person, may not work for another because there is a wide range of fungal microorganisms that can affect nails, and everyone has a different immune system. 

Getting back to the question – does Vicks kill toenail fungus? – or is it just like all the other home remedies out there? 

Like all home remedies and even OTC antifungals like Kerasal, Vicks VapoRub is not FDA approved as a toenail fungus treatment.

However, unlike most of the other non-prescription treatments out there, there is some evidence and clinical study that does actually support Vicks VapoRub as having beneficial treatment effects for some types of nail fungus.

The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM) published a clinical study using “over-the-counter mentholated ointment” for the treatment of toenail fungus. Bear in mind it was a small study with only 18 people.

But it’s one of the very few home remedies that have been tested in a clinical setting. These were their findings:

“Results: Fifteen of the 18 participants (83%) showed a positive treatment effect; 5 (27.8%) had a mycological and clinical cure at 48 weeks; 10 (55.6%) had partial clearance, and 3 (16.7%) showed no change.”

As opposed to just one active ingredient (like apple cider vinegar), Vicks VapoRub contains Camphor (4.8%), Thymol (1.2%), and Menthol (2.6%), all of which have all been shown to have antifungal properties.

How to use Vicks VapoRub for toenail fungus

You will have a better chance of Vick VapoRub working on your toenail fungus if you follow these steps:

  1. TRIM – Use a nail clipper  to trim your nails as far back as you can. Disinfect the nail clippers after use!
  2. FILE – Use an emery board   to file your nails both on the edge and most importantly, on top of the nail. This will increase your chances of the Vicks being able to penetrate the nail.
  3. APPLY – Apply the [amazonlink=”B0186Y85Y4″ link_text=”Vicks VapoRub” link_icon=”amazon” /] over the entire nail and around the sides and rub it in. 
  4. WEAR SOCKS – this will prevent the Vicks from rubbing off on your sheets. Best not to paint your toes to cover the fungus.

Caution: Do not use Vicks to try to treat nail fungus if you have ingrown toenails, if the skin around the nail is red and/or sore, or if you have any open cuts.

How long does it take for Vicks to work on toenail fungus?

This is a long process. If used every day consistently, if it works for you, you should see the normal nail start to grow out after 3-6 months. Just keep up the routine and trim the nails back as they grow out and be patient.

This is not an overnight cure.

It takes about 18 months for a healthy toenail to completely regrow.

This may not work for everyone, but what have you got to lose? Considering the cost of long-term antifungal prescription medication, this is definitely a much more cost-effective method with evidence of success that’s worth a try!

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).