Does Bleach Kill Toenail Fungus?

Pretty toes with red nail polish. Shallow dof
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Toenail fungus impacts millions of people, particularly as we age. It can be extremely hard to get rid of and requires months of treatment. The cost of long-term prescription medication is prohibitive for many, so it’s no wonder people are turning to the Internet to look for home remedies in hopes of alleviating this condition.

One of these home remedies circulating online is using bleach. Now the question you should be asking is not Does bleach kill toenail fungus? It should be – should I use bleach to kill toenail fungus?

In this article, we are going to talk about why you should NOT use bleach for toenail fungus. However, we will give you some alternative, safer treatment options you can try.


Will bleach kill toenail fungus?

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Bleach is a strong, toxic cleaning agent. It’s used for cleaning surfaces to kill germs, bacteria and yes, sometimes mold and fungus.

However, it has only been found to be effective at killing mold and fungus on non-porous surfaces, like your tiled floor, bathtub, toilet, etc.

It is not recommended to be used to get rid of mold or fungus on porous surfaces, like wood, drywall, or concrete.

It’s been found that both mold spores and fungi will penetrate deeper into the porous surface to avoid bleach.

Your skin and nails are porous. So not only has bleach been found ineffective at killing fungus on porous surfaces, it’s a toxic cleaning agent.

Bleach was never developed for topical application on the skin, or on the hair for that matter.

Why you should not use bleach to try and kill toenail fungus

Household bleach can cause chemical burns on the skin and permanent damage to the nerves and tissue in your eyes.

Anytime you are working with strong chemicals, you need to take precautions.

Household bleach manufacturers recommend wearing gloves and using it in well-ventilated areas.

How on earth does this sound like a good idea to try and use a product that is not recommended to come into contact with skin, to treat anything on your body?

What Can You Use Instead of Bleach to Kill Toenail Fungus?

One could argue that you should go see your dermatologist. Your doctor can prescribe you topical or oral medications that have been clinically proven and FDA-approved as a legit treatment for nail fungus.

But this might not be an option for everyone due to the high cost of prescription medication.

There are some other more cost-effective options you can try. Some home remedies and over-the-counter antifungals may work for you.

The reason we’re saying “may work” is because while some home remedies and OTC antifungals are very effective at killing other topical fungal infections, like athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm (which are much easier to treat), none of them have been clinically proven to be effective on toenail fungus.

Home Remedies to Tackle Toenail Fungus

The problem with home remedies is that there is nothing stopping people from promoting a treatment for something that not only doesn’t work but can actually be harmful.

Bleach for toenail fungus, case in point!

That having been said, although not clinically proven, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who have used home remedies for treating toenail fungus with apparent success. The following are the top three home remedies for killing toenail fungus that are safe to use, and might actually work for you.

[amazon_link=”B0186Y85Y4″ “link_text=”Vicks VapoRub” link_icon=”amazon” /]

Vicks VapoRub was invented more than a century ago as a treatment for pneumonia and croup. The crazy thing is that the same ingredients that have made it a medicine cabinet staple ever since, for easing coughs, colds and chest congestion, also all have antifungal properties.

Vicks VapoRub contains camphor (4.8%), thymol (1.2%), and menthol (2.6%).

Vicks is also one of the few home remedies out there for which there was an actual clinical study performed that showed that it did indeed show positive results against toenail fungus for some people.

Now what you need to realize is that the study included only 18 people and of those 18, with daily use, after 48 weeks, completely cured only 5. This is a success rate of just over 30%.

[amazon_link=”B074KNKHDS” “link_text=”Apple Cider Vinegar” link_icon=”amazon” /] 

The premise behind this home remedy 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.

It’s important to note that whether it’s apple cider vinegar or just plain old regular white vinegar, they both work the same way.

So rather than dish out the big bucks for the apple cider vinegar, if you’re using it on your feet, save the ACV for your salad dressing and use regular vinegar instead.

[amazon_link=”B07GDN51MD” “link_text=”Hydrogen Peroxide 3%” link_icon=”amazon” /] 

According to The CDC, hydrogen peroxide kills yeasts, bacteria, viruses, mold spores, and fungi. Like all the other home remedies out there, it has not been studied or tested as to its efficacy, specifically with regard to treating toenail fungus.

There are no guarantees, but there are quite a lot of people out there who find it to be effective.

If you choose to give Hydrogen Peroxide a try, make sure you use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Anything stronger than 3% can cause irritation or potentially cause damage to the surrounding skin tissue.

Over-the-counter Antifungals

OTC antifungals are very effective at curing topical fungal infections, but toenail fungus is much harder to treat. To date, there are no OTC antifungals that are FDA approved for treating nail fungus.

Even the ones that market themselves as a nail fungus treatment must, by law, have stated on the label or in the package insert that it’s “not for nails”.

We’ve rounded up a few of those OTC fungal treatments that market themselves for nail fungus, based on favorable Amazon consumer ratings. There’s no guarantees here, but some, like Kerasal, may be worth a try.

[amazon_link=”B07NSJXLMR” “link_text=”Neomen Fungus Stop Pen” link_icon=”amazon” /] 4.5/5 based on 1,494 ratings

[amazon_link=”B005OBG2T8″ “link_text=”Dr. G’s Clear Nail Antifungal Treatment” link_icon=”amazon” /] 4.3/5 based on 760 ratings

[amazon_link=”B08BVX8FHS” “link_text=”Dermatool Nail Fungus Treatment” link_icon=”amazon” /] 4.1/5 based on 255 ratings

[amazon_link=”B007JKMEZ8″ “link_text=”Karlash Nail Fungus Treatment” link_icon=”amazon” /]  4/5 based on 19 ratings

[amazon_link=”B074T1K96L” “link_text=”Better Nail Anti Fungal Nail Support” link_icon=”amazon” /] 3.9/5 based on 5,330 ratings

How do I know if my toenail fungus is dying?

It’s sometimes hard to tell if you’ve got toenail fungus or just a bruised toe. It’s even harder to tell if the fungus is going away!

Unlike a regular fungal infection on your skin that “clears up” when treated, and your skin goes back to normal, the part of the toenail that is infected with fungus will never return to normal.

You have to wait until that part of the nail grows out and is replaced by the new healthy nail.

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 without any white or cloudy discoloration underneath. It might take a while before you start to see new regrowth of the healthy nail because on average, a toenail only grows about 1.6mm per month.

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.  

The key to successfully treating toenail fungus is being persistent and making sure you are using whatever treatment you decide on, as often as is recommended and until the healthy nail is fully regrown.

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).