If you are dealing with toenail fungus, you are not alone. It’s estimated that nail fungus, or onychomycosis, affects approximately 1 in 10 individuals. That number jumps to 1 in 2 for those aged 70 and over.
Nail fungus is very difficult to treat and the only treatments for nail fungus that have been clinically proven to work and have been FDA approved, are available by prescription only. Some of these drugs can have adverse side effects. And if you couple that with the cost of long-term prescription medication, it’s no wonder people are turning to home remedies to try to get rid of their toenail fungus.
One of the more popular home remedies is hydrogen peroxide for toenail fungus.
In this article we are going to take a closer look at hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for toenail fungus, how it works and how to use it.
Does hydrogen peroxide kill fungus?
Hydrogen peroxide has long been applied to a wide variety of uses. From disinfecting minor cuts and scrapes and household cleaning to hair bleach and tooth whitening. Now it has become a popular nail fungus treatment alternative to prescription medication.
But does it work?
According to The CDC, hydrogen peroxide kills yeasts, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and mold spores.
Just remember: just because something has been proven to have antifungal properties, does not mean that it will automatically get rid of a toenail fungal infection.
The concentration and exposure level are also important.
This is where the data is lacking.
There is no clinical data to support the idea that hydrogen peroxide, or any other home remedy (even if they have antifungal properties), has been proven to be an effective treatment against toenail fungus.
Although there is no clinical proof of its efficacy, there is lots of anecdotal evidence from people who have used hydrogen peroxide for toenail fungus and it worked for them.
Bear in mind that hydrogen peroxide may not work for everyone. But there really is no harm in trying to see if it works for you. It’s inexpensive and there are no harmful side effects if used properly.
So why not give it a go?
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Treat Toenail Fungus
Remember hydrogen peroxide is a chemical, so make sure you use a maximum of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Anything stronger will damage your skin.
There are two ways you can use hydrogen peroxide to treat toenail fungus:
Cotton pad soaking
this method is better if you have only one nail affected by fungus
You will need:
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Cotton pad
How to Use:
- Wash feet
- Soak the cotton pad in hydrogen peroxide
- Place the soaked cotton pad on affected nail for 5 minutes
- Use another cotton pad to dry nail
- Repeat 3-5 times a day
This method is better if you have multiple nails affected by fungus
You will need:
- A plastic tub
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Paper towels
How To Use:
- Wash feet
- Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and cool water in the plastic tub, enough to cover the affected nails.
- Soak the foot (or feet) with the nails affected by the fungus, for 30 minutes.
- Rinse with warm water
- Pat your nails dry with paper towels. Avoid using a regular towel so you don’t spread the infection.
- Dispose of the paper towels after use.
- Make sure your nails are completely dry before you cover them.
- Repeat daily.
CAUTION: DO NOT MIX VINEGAR AND HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
If you’ve been searching the internet for home remedies for toenail fungus, you will have no doubt come across vinegar as a suggested treatment. Vinegar also has antifungal properties.
It’s natural to think that if you are really desperate to get rid of your toenail fungus it may sound like a good idea to mix them to create a stronger solution.
In fact, there are blogs out there that actually recommend mixing the two together. Mixing vinegar and hydrogen peroxide creates peracetic acid, which is corrosive and irritating to the eyes, mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and skin.
Long-term overexposure to its fumes can lead to liver and kidney damage.
How do I know if my toenail fungus is dying?
You will know that the treatment is working and the infection is clearing up when you see a new, healthy nail starting to grow from the nailbed. The part of the nail that is infected with fungus will never return to normal.
As your nail grows out, keep trimming off the part of the nail that was infected until all you are left with is a healthy nail. On average, a whole toenail takes about 18 months to fully regrow.
Treating toenail fungus is a long and painstakingly slow process that requires diligence and patience.
What if Hydrogen Peroxide is not working?
If you have tried using hydrogen peroxide and after several weeks you see the fungal infection continuing to spread and no healthy nail regrowth, you have several options: try another home remedy, try an OTC antifungal, or go see a dermatologist or podiatrist.
1. Home remedies
There are several home remedies that have supposedly worked for some people. Just keep in mind that home remedies are a bit hit or miss. Here are a few home remedies that have people swearing that it helped them cure their toenail fungus:
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Vicks VapoRub contains Camphor (4.8%), Thymol (1.2%), and Menthol (2.6%), all of which have all been shown to have antifungal properties. And unlike most of the other non-prescription treatments out there, there is some evidence and a clinical study that does actually support Vicks VapoRub as having beneficial treatment effects for some types of nail fungus.
Granted it was a study with only 18 people, but that’s more clinical evidence than any other home remedy out there. The study found that 5 of the 18 participants were cured at 48 weeks, 10 had partial clearance and the other three showed no effect.
The premise behind Apple cider vinegar as a cure for nail fungus is that vinegar is acidic, which gives it antifungal and antibacterial properties. It slows down the growth of some types of fungus and may even get rid of it entirely.
Oregano oil contains thymol, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
2. Over-the-counter antifungals
Like home remedies, although an OTC antifungal easily takes care of other topical fungal infections (which are much easier to treat), there are no OTC antifungals on the market that have been FDA approved specifically for the treatment of nail fungus.
In fact, they all must state by law, on the label or package insert, that it’s “not for nails”.
However, you’ll see many of these options like Kerasal, targeting toenail fungus. And like the home remedies, these too are hit and miss when it comes to treating toenail fungus. They may work for some people, but not for others.
3. See a dermatologist or a podiatrist
If all else fails and you feel like you’ve tried everything else, it might be time to go see a doctor. Both a dermatologist and podiatrist are the best professionals to assess your condition and recommend treatment.
The doctor will probably take scrapings of the infected nail and have it tested to find out which fungus is causing the infection, so he or she can choose the most appropriate course of action, which could include topical and/or oral medication.