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Does Vicks Vaporub Kill Toenail Fungus?

Toenail Fungal Infection: – Toenail fungal infection is a common condition that begins as a white or yellow spot under the tip of a nail. As the infection goes more in-depth, the nail becomes discolored, brittle, and crumble at the edges. Toenail fungal infection, a more common condition than fingernail fungal infection, may involve any nail unit component, including the matrix, bed, or plate.[1]

Toenail fungal infection is also known as Onychomycosis or Tinea Unguium. It will occur due to the overgrowth of fungi in, under, or on the nail. A warm and moist environment is most favorable for fungi to thrive; thus, they can naturally overpopulate in toenails. Common symptoms of toenail fungal infection are darkening of nails, lack of shine, distorted nail shape, foul odor, debris build-up under the nail, and pain in the tips of toes.[1]

In this document, Section-1 will discuss the types and causes of toenail fungal nail infection. Section-2 will emphasize Vicks VapoRub as a treatment for toenail fungal infection. Section-3 will discuss other treatments for toenail fungal infection.

Does Vicks Vaporub Kill Toenail Fungus?

Section-1: Types of Toenail Fungal Infection

  • Distal or lateral subungual onychomycosis
  • White superficial onychomycosis
  • Candidal onychomycosis
  • Endonyx onychomycosis
  • Proximal subungual onychomycosis
  • Total dystrophic onychomycosis[2]

Section-1.1: Causes of Toenail Fungal Infection

  1. Dermatophytes: Dermatophytes such as Trichophyton rubrum and Trichophyton mentagrophytes cause toenail fungal infection.
  2. Non-dermatophyte moulds: – The main species of this category are Scopulariopsis Scytalidium, Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Acremonium.
  3. Yeasts: – Candida species also cause toenail fungal infection[2]

Section-2: Vicks Vaporub As A Treatment For Toenail Fungal Infection


Vicks VapoRub: Vicks VapoRub is a topical ointment used primarily to suppress coughing and treat minor aches and pains. Most commonly, it provides cold relief and aid in decongestion. Vicks VapoRub is used as a home remedy for the treatment of nail fungal infection and contained various essential oils that have been used by indigenous cultures for centuries to treat nail fungus infection. Vicks VapoRub has lesser side-effects as compared to other conventional toenail fungal treatments.[3]

Section-2.2: Ingredients of Vicks VapoRub that fight against fungus

Vicks VapoRub contains camphor, eucalyptus oil, menthol, cedar leaf oil, nutmeg oil, thymol, and turpentine oil. All of these ingredients work in harmony to destroy nail fungus.

  1. Thymol, an oil that comes from thyme, has antifungal properties. Thymol is effective against dermatophytes and different fungi such as Escherichia Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Bacillus cereus. Thymol is also effective against Candida albicans (Yeast).
  2. Menthol, eucalyptus oil, and camphor also have antifungal properties and hamper the nail fungus growth, resulting in weakening the fungi. But these are not as effective as thymol.[3,4]

Section-2.3: Reasons why Vicks VapoRub is preferable over other treatments to cure toenail fungus

  1. Soothing effect: – Vicks VapoRub has a soothing ingredient (eucalyptus oil), which provides quick relief and reduces discomfort from nail fungus.
  2. Affordable and accessible: – It is available in every drugstore at very low prices. It is a quick and easy substitute for expensive medications.
  3. Side effects: – Oral antifungal medications used to treat toenail fungal infections have side-effects like skin rashes, stomach issues, and even liver damage. But Vicks VapoRub is free of these side-effects.
  4. Treatment for a toenail fungus takes time: – Toenail fungal infection treatment takes at least 12 weeks; thus, Vicks VapoRub also achieves similar results like other treatments in this tenure.
  5. It’s used in most households and is trusted by many.[5]

Section-2.4: Drawbacks of Vicks VapoRub as a treatment for toenail fungal infection

  1. Vicks VapoRub is not approved by the FDA as an anti-fungal treatment against onychomycosis.
  2. It is a home remedy; thus, it will take a longer time for treatment compared to other available treatments like oral antifungal drugs. It will take months or years to treat nail fungal infection.
  3. Due to the longer duration of treatment, the fungus may become resistant to the active constituents of Vicks VapoRub.[6]

Section-3: Other Treatments For Toenail Fungal Infection

Section-3.1: Home Remedies: –

These treatments can be taken without a doctor’s prescription and might work well.

  1. Mentholated salve: – According to some research, Mentholated salve like Vicks, VapoRub can treat fungal infection by applying a swab on the nail every day.
  2. Snakeroot extract: –A natural anti-fungal from the Sunflower family and is as effective as the prescription anti-fungal medicine ciclopirox.
  3. Tea tree oil: –Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, have antifungal and antiseptic properties; thus, it helps in eliminating the fungal infection.
  4. Listerine or vinegar: –By soaking the nail 5 minutes a day, it will help dry out the affected nails.
  5. Oregano oil: – Oregano oil contains thymol, which has antifungal properties, thus kills various fungus species.
  6. Olive leaf extract: – Oleuropein is present as an active substance in olive leaf extract and has anti-fungal, anti-microbial,and immune-boosting properties.
  7. Ozonized oils: – Olive oil and sunflower oil on injecting with a low concentration of ozone gas inactivates many organisms such as fungi, yeast, and bacteria. Ozonized sunflower oil is more effective than topical antifungal ketoconazole in treating toenail fungal infection.
  8. Listerine: – It contains ingredients such as menthol, thymol, and eucalyptus; thus, it works as an antifungal.
  9. Garlic: – Garlic also has anti-fungal properties.[7]

Section-3.2: Prescription Drugs: –

Griseofulvin, terbinafine, itraconazole, and ketoconazole are the most commonly used drugs for nail fungal infection treatment as oral therapies. Ciclopirox (Penlac 7%) nail lacquers and Amorolfine (5%) nail lacquers are used as topical treatments.[8,9]

Conclusion: –

Toenail fungal infection is a common condition that will occur mainly due to dermatophytes, non-dermatophyte moulds, and yeasts. Warm and moist environments are the most favorable condition for fungal infection to occur. Vicks VapoRub contains various essential oils like thymol, menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil, which have antifungal properties. Due to the anti-fungal properties of these ingredients, they kill toenail fungus. Vicks VapoRub has lesser side-effects as compared to conventional toenail fungal treatments and is easily affordable. But Vicks VapoRub is not approved by the FDA as an anti-fungal treatment against onychomycosis, and it takes a very long period for treatments.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 29, 2020

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