How to soak your feet against nail fungus and 4 products to try (2023)

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What is nail fungus?

Most of us don't think about itnail mycosisevery day. But the day you notice you are doing sportsyellow nailsLubwhite nails? Mushrooms will remain in the first place.

These discolored andthickened nailsoften indicate onychomycosis, a fungal infection of the toenails. Fungus accounts for 50 percent of all nail problems andfungus appears on the nailsfour to ten times more often than on nails.

Fortunately, toenail fungus does not turn into a serious health crisis, but it can be very uncomfortable.

“It's hard to live with nail fungus. Some patients experience pain or difficulty doing daily activities and putting on shoes, says dermatologist Shari Lipner, MD, professor of clinical dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. "There is also a stigma around nail fungus, so many people are ashamed to have it."

Here's what you need to know about toenail fungus, how foot soaking can help, and what home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) products to try.

What fungal nail infections do to your nails

Fungi usually live harmlessly on the skin, but sometimes they can multiply and lead to nail infections. The fungus can spread easily when it invades the skin next to or under the nail.

When it comes totypes of nail fungusDistal subungual tinea is the most common subtype of onychomycosis, Dr. Lipner says.

In this condition, the fungus enters the nail bed underneath the nail, primarily affecting the big toe. Causes of infectionmake your nails thickerdiscoloration from yellowish-white to yellowish-brown appears in the center of the nail. Pain and mild inflammation may occur.

Often the nail breaks and becomes jagged and eventually separates from the nail bed. People with very contagioushealthy footare more susceptible to distal subungual onychomycosis.

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"Family members very often get it from other household contacts," says Dr. Lipner.

Another subtype, called superficial white nail tinea, is less common than distal. Unlike other forms of onychomycosis that affect the toenails and fingernails, superficial whiteness only affects the toenails.

“In white superficial onychomycosis, the infection is in the upper layers of the hard part of the nail, not deep under the nail. Therefore, it is generally easier to treat,” says Dr. Lipner.

Symptoms of this type include small, white, powdery spots that appear randomly on the nail. The nail becomes soft and crumbles easily.

How to treat nail fungus

Toenail fungal infections, regardless of type, rarely go away without prescription treatment. over-the-counter (OTC) products can help relieve symptoms, but they don't kill the fungus. Usually, complete healing takes several months or even a year.

Oral and topical antifungal medications are generally prescribed.

“The slowness of the procedure is due to the slow growth of the nails. "Toenails grow on average only 1 millimeter per month, so a full nail takes a year to grow," says Dr. Lipner.

In addition to prescription drug therapy, there are several toenail soaks that you can try to ease symptoms and speed healing.

How to soak your feet against nail fungus and 4 products to try (1)honey_and_milk/Getty Images

What to expect from nail fungus treatment

While some toenail fungal infections are easier to treat than others, we must make it clear that nail fungus soaking alone should not be relied upon to permanently kill the fungus.

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"I haven't seen any conclusive evidence that soaking will help treat a fungal nail infection," says dermatologist Rajani Katta, MD. MD who serves as a clinical faculty volunteer at Baylor School of Medicine and McGovern School of Medicine at UT Health in Houston.

However, soaking can help relieve symptoms such as itching and burning, as well as help fight bacteria. It may take weeks or months of consistent soaking to see improvement - or it may not work at all.

Remember that although your toes look and feel better, the fungus may still be alive and present and may spread to other toes and parts of the foot.

One word of caution: if you are diabetic and notice changes in your toenails or toenails - think about redness, swelling, discoloration orblack vertical line on the nail- don't try to get your feet wet. In fact, people with diabetes should see a doctor if they notice any foot-related changes.

Soaking feet in vinegar for nail fungus

Vinegar is an ancient remedy that people still swear bythe advantages of beautyand alleged ability to helpweight lossISkin protection. It can also help with nail fungus.

Keep in mind that research on vinegar for fungus is pretty poor. More research is needed before scientists can say with certainty whether this home remedy works.

Nevertheless, doctors are witnessing good results of soaking feet in vinegar. So maybe worth a try.

Make sure you mix the foot well. You can use white vinegar orApple vinegar.

“At our clinic, we use two parts warm water and one part white vinegar. We have patients who wet themselves for 10 to 15 minutes a day,” says Dr. Joseph Zahn. MD, a dermatologist at GW Medical Faculty Associates in Washington.

"Be sure to dry your toes thoroughly and apply moisturizer," says Cara Wylie, DPM, chief podiatrist at UCHealth Foot and Ankle Center-Central in Denver, who has seen positive results when her patients wet three times a week for years.

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“Nails take nine months to a year to grow, which is why it takes so long. There are other baths, but I think this is the safest and best,” says Dr. Wylie.

Soak in vinegar for bacteria

"Patients with onychomycosis can sometimes develop a bacterial infection at the same time, leading to a greenish discoloration of the nail," says Dr. Katta. “This discoloration is usually caused by certain thingsbacteria called Pseudomonas. For this type of infection, soaking in vinegar may help."

In short, vinegar can help reduce (but not necessarily remove or cure) yeast and bacterial infections.

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which helps fight bacteria that cause green discoloration.

To get the most out of this bath, follow the instructions below:

  • Mix one part white vinegar with four parts lukewarm water.
  • Soak for five minutes twice a day.
  • After soaking, rinse and dry the skin completely.

A word of warning: don't put your feet in this bath if you have cracked skin, says Dr. Katta.

Soaking feet with baking soda

Where would we be without this cheap pantry? A can of baking sodaget rid of blackheads,relieve itchingItanned skinand can stop fungal growth. (And that's not even about its cooking and cleaning uses.)

According to a study inmycopathology, laboratory studies have shown that baking soda is effective ininhibition of fungal growth.

Here's how to prepare a foot bath:

  • Fill the bowl with warm water.
  • Add half a cup of baking soda.
  • Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Dry your feet completely. (Don't forget between your fingers!)

Over-the-counter foot soak

Vinegar and baking soda are inexpensive options, but if you need a ready-to-use treatment - no mixing required - you can try an over-the-counter product.


Before buying, check the ingredient list to make sure they have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties - tea tree oil is the most common. (However, research on its effectiveness is minimal and more research is needed.) Baking soda can also be found in OTC foot rubs, such as the Daily Remedy product below.

Many antifungal foot baths contain tea tree oil and Epsom salts to help eliminate odors and treat other symptoms.

To take the guesswork out of your search for a good foot bath, we've rounded up some of the products that are highly rated on Amazon:

Toenail care when you have onychomycosis

When treating a fungal toenail infection, it's important to keep your feet away from moist and warm environments where the fungus thrives.

Here are some other ways to take care of your toenails and prevent ringworm from coming back:

  • don'tgo barefootin locker rooms or public showers, around swimming pools or in other humid and warm environments.
  • Dressshoes made of breathable materials.
  • Wear absorbent socks and use anti-fungal foot powder.
  • Keep your toenails clean and dry - and don't forget to dry between your toes.
  • Throw away old shoes or coats with an anti-fungal spray or powder.
  • Keep your nails short.
  • Give your nails a break from the drying effects of nail polish.

When to see a doctor

Ako imatediabetesand you notice any of the symptoms listed below, contact your doctor for treatment.

If you've tried treating nail fungus at home and you see your nails changing, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Here are the signs that you may have a full-blown nail fungus infection:

  • Growing discoloration on the nail with a white, yellow, yellow-brown or black-green color
  • Nails appear powdery, thick, brittle or cracked
  • The nail changes shape
  • A mild or unpleasant odor comes from the nail
  • Nails become painful and red or oozing pus
  • All systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, weight loss and night sweats

Go ahead, learn10 reasons why you may have toe pain.

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How to soak your feet against nail fungus and 4 products to try? ›

Apple Cider Vinegar: Use the following mixture – 1/3 cup white vinegar, 2 cups hot water, and 1/3 cup Epsom salt. Make sure to soak your entire foot for 30 minutes once a day. Taking apple cider vinegar orally may also have some beneficial health effects by working against the fungus from the inside out.

What is the best thing to soak your feet in for toenail fungus? ›

For mild forms of this condition, a vinegar soak might work well. The antifungal properties also make vinegar soaks a good idea for people with toenail fungus. Soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes daily in a vinegar bath until the infection subsides.

What home remedy can I soak my feet in for foot fungus? ›

A study in Mycopathologia found that sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, does have antifungal abilities when used on the skin. To make a foot soak, mix about a half cup of baking soda in a large bucket or basin of warm water. Soak feet for 15 to 20 minutes, twice a day.

What home remedy can I use to soak my toenail fungus? ›

Soak Your Feet in Baking Soda and Vinegar

By adding one cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar and 5 tablespoons of baking soda to a water bath, you are preventing fungus from growing or thriving. This combination works as an alkaline, reducing the ability of the fungus to grow and spread.

What kills toenail fungus the fastest? ›

The fastest way to eliminate the infection is through toenail laser treatment. Laser nail therapy specifically targets the microorganisms under your nail while leaving the keratin intact. In just a few treatments, the infection can be entirely eliminated.

Can you soak your feet in hydrogen peroxide for toenail fungus? ›

There are two common ways to use hydrogen peroxide to treat your toenail fungus. Wipe hydrogen peroxide directly on the infected area with a clean cloth or cotton swab. Add 1/8 of a cup of hydrogen peroxide to four cups of cool water. Soak the infected feet for 10-20 minutes, and then pat dry with a clean cloth.

Does hydrogen peroxide get rid of toenail fungus? ›

Hydrogen peroxide is an antiseptic that isn't meant for killing toenail fungus. This medication is for treating cuts, burns and scrapes. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hydrogen peroxide can kill some types of fungi, such as yeasts and moulds.

What kills nail fungus naturally? ›

Here are six of the best natural remedies:
  1. White Vinegar. White vinegar other wise known as Acetic Acid can help eliminate fungus when diluted in lukewarm water. ...
  2. Listerine and White Vinegar. ...
  3. Tea Tree Oil. ...
  4. Urea Paste. ...
  5. Pau D'arco Tea. ...
  6. Vicks VapoRub. ...
  7. Time.
May 5, 2017

How do you get rid of foot fungus ASAP? ›

Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription antifungal creams, ointments, gels, sprays or powders effectively treat athlete's foot. These products contain clotrimazole, miconazole, tolnaftate or terbinafine. Some prescription antifungal medications for athlete's foot are pills.

What kills foot fungus best? ›

Your health care provider may prescribe an antifungal cream, such as efinaconazole (Jublia) and tavaborole (Kerydin). You rub this product into your infected nails after soaking. These creams may work better if you first thin the nails.

What dissolves toenail fungus? ›

Effective products include efinaconazole (Jublia), tavaborole (Kerydin) and ciclopirox (Penlac). All require daily applications, and it may take as long as a year to see noticeable improvement. These products may work for early, superficial fungal infections because they kill fungi on the surface of the nail.

What disinfectant kills toenail fungus? ›

Soak in 70% or 90% rubbing alcohol for 20 minutes. Use a Q-tip and throw away after each use. Soak toes in 1:1 vinegar and hydrogen peroxide daily for 10 minutes for 3 weeks. Call the office right away if any redness or discomfort occurs.

What is the best active ingredient for toenail fungus? ›

The best pill for toenail fungus is terbinafine. Evidence suggests it works better than the alternatives with the fewest side effects. Terbinafine results in resolution of toenail fungus 76% of the time. Common side effects may include headaches, skin rash, and vomiting.

Why does Vicks VapoRub work on nail fungus? ›

Vicks Vaporub softens and lightens toenails. This makes it look like the fungus is being treated. Vicks may have some antifungal qualities, but it is unable to penetrate the toenail well enough to cure the infection. Many topical antifungal medications have this issue.

What vitamin is good for toenail fungus? ›

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is considered a topical therapy that can help in the treatment of toenail fungus. It also supports nail and foot health by preventing cracked cuticles and keeping the nail around your nails moisturized.

How do you treat the worst toenail fungus? ›

Terbinafine and itraconazole are the 2 medicines most commonly prescribed for fungal nail infections. These usually need to be taken once or twice a day for several months to ensure the infection has completely cleared up. If you stop taking the medication too early, the infection may return.

Is rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide better for toenail fungus? ›

Rubbing alcohol has the same germ and fungal killing properties as hydrogen peroxide. As such, regular application can help eliminate surface infections.

Can you put vinegar directly on toenail fungus? ›

The best type of vinegar to treat toenail fungus is apple cider vinegar, a very acidic and strong solution that destroys toenail fungus at the source. To take full advantage of this, mix one cup of apple cider vinegar with at least 2 cups of water – this will dilute the vinegar so that it won't burn your skin.

How often should I put hydrogen peroxide on my toenail fungus? ›

Applying hydrogen peroxide to toenails every day can help get rid of ugly nail fungus.

What happens if you put hydrogen peroxide on a fungus? ›

You don't have to throw away that hydrogen peroxide

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can kill viruses, bacteria, yeast, fungi and spores.

Can you scrape out toenail fungus? ›

A pharmacist can help with fungal nail infections

nail-softening cream – it's used for 2 weeks to soften the nail so the infected part can be scraped off.

How do you get rid of toenail fungus with bleach? ›

Bleach isn't a good method for treating or preventing toenail fungus. Bleach can burn the skin and shouldn't be applied (even in highly diluted amounts) unless a doctor recommends it. Fungus infections often require oral medications or specialized laser treatments. Even then, the infection can come back.

What is a simple trick to get rid of nail fungus? ›

Oregano oil

According to a 2016 review, thymol has antifungal and antibacterial properties. To treat toenail fungus, apply oregano oil to the affected nail twice daily with a cotton swab. Some people use oregano oil and tea tree oil together. Both products are potent and may cause irritation or allergic reactions.

What not to do with nail fungus? ›

Don't go barefoot in public places. Use a spray or powder that fights fungus on your feet and in your shoes. Don't pick at the skin around your nails. Don't use nail polish or fake nails on your nails.

What is the main cause of toenail fungus? ›

What causes nail fungus? Tiny, microscopic organisms called fungi (the plural of fungus) cause a fungal nail infection. Many people pick up the fungi when they have skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a fungal infection such as athlete's foot or ringworm on their hands.

What not to do with foot fungus? ›

Fungal Toenails: What NOT to Do
  1. Don't Go Barefoot in Public Places. ...
  2. Don't Wear Sweaty Shoes and Socks. ...
  3. Don't Share. ...
  4. Don't Ignore Fungal Skin Infections. ...
  5. Don't Clip Your Nails Too Short … ...
  6. … ...
  7. Don't Get a Pedicure From a Spa You Don't Trust 100% ...
  8. Don't Wait to Get Treatment.
Jul 16, 2019

What kills most fungus? ›

Polyenes, the oldest class of antifungal drugs, also have to be given intravenously. These drugs—the best known of which is amphotericin B—have been around since the 1950s. They kill fungi by binding to ergosterol, a sterol in the fungal cell membrane.

Why is toenail fungus so hard to get rid of? ›

Although the fungus affects the appearance of the nails, it actually lives on the layer directly beneath the toenail. That's why it's so difficult to treat. Your nails are made up of keratin, a tough, fibrous protein. The same hard shell that protects your toes is giving shelter to the fungus.

How do you know if toenail fungus is dying? ›

You'll know that the medication is working and the toenail fungus is dying when your toenail changes back to its natural color, decreases in thickness, shows healthy new growth, and you see a clear delineation between the infected part of the toenail and your new nail growth.

Do I need to throw away my shoes if I have toenail fungus? ›

If you just finished treating nail fungus, throw away shoes, boots, skates, and other footwear that you wore before you started treatment. Fungus can live in footwear, giving you another infection. If your footwear is expensive or new, you can disinfect them using an ultraviolet (UV) shoe sanitizer or ozone cabinet.

Will baking soda and vinegar get rid of toenail fungus? ›

Baking soda can prevent fungus from growing and spreading. Vinegar is a weak acid and will help to kill off the fungus without altering the Ph level. Mix 4-5 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and add enough warm water to fully soak your feet.

What is the best over the counter medicine for foot fungus? ›

After washing and drying your feet, apply an antifungal product. The antifungal terbinafine (Lamisil AT) has been shown to be very effective. Another option is clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF). You may need to experiment to find the product and formulation — ointment, gel, cream, lotion, powder or spray — that work for you.

How long does it take for Vicks VapoRub to cure nail fungus? ›

“Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up the notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months…”

How many times do you put Vicks on toenail fungus? ›

Using Vicks VapoRub for Toenail Fungus
  1. Take a small amount of Vicks from the jar with a Q-tip. ...
  2. Place a THIN coat of Vicks on top of the nails.
  3. Make sure only the nails are covered with the Vicks. ...
  4. Apply the Vicks once a day either in the morning or the evening.
Dec 21, 2016

How long does tea tree oil take to work on toenail fungus? ›

According to a 2013 study, tea tree oil was effective in reducing growth of the fungus Trichophyton rubrum in nail infections. T. rubrum is a fungus that can cause infections such as athlete's foot and nail fungus. Improvements were seen after 14 days.

What vitamin deficiency causes nail fungus? ›

Additionally, biotin deficiency can increase the risk of fungal nail infections and subsequent nail plate discoloration. Changes in nail shape and surface. Nutritional deficiencies can cause several changes in the shape and surface of nail plates.

What foods should you avoid if you have toenail fungus? ›

Therefore, anti-fungal diets eliminate:
  • Added sugars (examples: cane sugar, honey, syrup)
  • Natural sugars (examples: fresh and dried fruit, fruit juice)
  • Refined starches (examples: white bread, pastries)
  • Starchy vegetables (examples: potatoes, carrots, peas, beans)
Nov 8, 2016

What foods get rid of toenail fungus? ›

Some of the foods that may help to keep the body healthy can include fresh vegetables, chicken, and fish. Eating these types of foods may be instrumental in improving the immune system and are often considered when beginning treatment for toenail fungus.

How can I make my toenails healthy again? ›

Home-based treatments
  1. Clean the affected area with soap and water daily.
  2. Groom your nails regularly. ...
  3. Apply an over-the-counter fungal treatment after you gently file your nails.
  4. Apply Vicks VapoRub on your toenail each day. ...
  5. Apply tea tree oil twice a day every day.

Does soaking your feet in apple cider vinegar help toenail fungus? ›

Apple cider vinegar is a popular remedy for toenail fungus due to its antifungal properties. If you want to treat your fungus using ACV, you can soak your feet in a mixture of warm water and the vinegar for about 15 minutes, twice a day.

Can vinegar cure toenail fungus? ›

Despite its rather rancid scent, vinegar can prove to be quite useful in a wide variety of situations. The best type of vinegar to treat toenail fungus is apple cider vinegar, a very acidic and strong solution that destroys toenail fungus at the source.

How do you get rid of a full toenail fungus? ›

Prescription oral antifungals, such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or fluconazole (Diflucan), are traditionally used to treat toenail fungus. These treatments are often effective but may cause serious side effects such as upset stomach, dizziness, severe skin problems, and jaundice.

How do you get rid of the worst toenail fungus? ›

For a severe infection, your doctor can give you an antifungal pill that you'll take for as long as 12 weeks. Studies show that drugs like itraconazole (Sporanox) and terbinafine (Lamisil) work best to help a new, healthy nail grow in to replace the infected one.

What is the best foot soak for the elderly? ›

Simply add 1/2 cup Epsom salt or a few drops of essential oils to a gallon of warm water. Soak your feet for 10-15 minutes, then dry gently with a fluffy towel. Be sure to dry especially well between your toes.

What kills foot fungus naturally? ›

Here are six of the best natural remedies:
  1. White Vinegar. White vinegar other wise known as Acetic Acid can help eliminate fungus when diluted in lukewarm water. ...
  2. Listerine and White Vinegar. ...
  3. Tea Tree Oil. ...
  4. Urea Paste. ...
  5. Pau D'arco Tea. ...
  6. Vicks VapoRub. ...
  7. Time.
May 5, 2017

Can Vicks VapoRub treat toenail fungus? ›

Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up the notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months…”

Should I rinse my feet after a vinegar soak? ›

Because vinegar is antimicrobial, soaking the feet in a vinegar bath for 10 to 20 minutes may help to kill the bacteria or fungi contributing towards foot odor. Clean the feet with a regular, soft soap before and after soaking.

What kind of vinegar kills fungus? ›

Apple-cider vinegar can help clear up fungal infections.

How long should I soak my feet in vinegar for toenail fungus? ›

Add about one cup of vinegar to each gallon of water and soak your feet for 15 minutes per day until the symptoms improve. Toenail fungus can be improved (although rarely cured) with this technique too, although you need to increase the concentration: one part vinegar to two parts water.


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