How Vicks VapoRub Might Help Treat Toenail Fungus

Toenails may seem like a small and insignificant part of our body, but when they get infected, they can cause significant discomfort and affect your daily life. Common infections include toenail fungus, a condition that's also known as onychomycosis — a fungal infection of the nails, according to the experts at the Mayo Clinic. When left untreated, the condition can worsen and cause your toenail to become increasingly thick, discolored, and deformed. This may make it difficult to wear shoes or walk comfortably.

Luckily, various treatment options for toenail fungus exist. However, more severe cases may require prescription medications or surgery. On the other hand, some people also choose to use Vicks VapoRub, which is a popular over-the-counter product that is commonly used to relieve coughs and congestion. While Vicks VapoRub has not been scientifically proven to treat toenail fungus, many believe that it can be effective due to its active ingredients.

There's limited evidence

While anecdotal evidence suggests that Vicks VapoRub may help treat toenail fungus, limited evidence supports its effectiveness. Nevertheless, one of the active ingredients in the product is menthol, which has antifungal properties, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal de Mycologie Médicale. When applied topically to the affected toenail, the menthol in Vicks VapoRub can penetrate the nail and may help to kill the fungus that causes the infection.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine also believes that Vicks VapoRub may help with the condition. The study notes that the treatment was effective in 15 out of 18 of the participants. However, since this is a small sample of participants, further studies are needed to understand the product's effectiveness. Another active ingredient in Vicks VapoRub is thymol, a natural compound found in thyme oil, which is also believed to have antifungal properties, explains the 2014 study.

How to use Vicks VapoRub to treat toenail fungus

To use Vicks VapoRub, Hermes Healthcare advises applying it directly to the affected toenail once per day using a thin layer. After application, wear socks and clean your feet every morning or evening, depending on when you choose to apply. If the rub fails to work, it's best to consult your doctor for more effective treatment.

There are various natural ways to manage nail fungus. Alternatively, your doctor might prescribe over-the-counter or prescription antifungal creams or nail polishes, which can be applied directly to the affected toenail, says the Mayo Clinic. Medications, such as terbinafine or itraconazole, are also available. Other options include laser therapy, which uses heat to destroy the fungus in the affected toenail, per Medical News Today. In severe cases of toenail fungus that does not respond to other treatments, surgical removal of the affected toenail may be necessary.