Anecdotal evidence suggests that some home remedies have antifungal properties and could help improve a nail fungus infection, but there are few scientific studies to back up these claims. The fact that a topical solution has antifungal properties does not necessarily make it effective for treating nail fungus, since it has to penetrate the nail and treat the nail bed as well as the nail in order to eliminate the fungus. Here are a few popular natural remedies that often surface in the media and online:
- Mentholated ointments or chest rubs, which are normally used to treat cough and chest congestion, are recommended by many as a home remedy for nail fungus. At least one scientific study supports the idea that thymol oil – an ingredient in chest rub that is derived from the herb thyme – is effective against fungal nail infection, but the evidence is limited.
- Tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree and is a natural disinfectant that works against many fungi and bacteria. Tea tree oil has long been used for treating skin infections in Australia and has been shown to be effective against athlete’s foot. When used for nail fungus, the oil is painted on the infected nail twice a day for at least two months. Sometimes it is mixed with lavender oil.
- Vinegar soaks may inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and is a popular natural remedy for nail fungus, but it may take long to achieve any visible improvements.
- Bleach soaks have been used by some people to treat nail fungus, but soaking your feet in bleach water could cause skin irritation, and there is little evidence that supports the efficacy of this treatment.
- Aloe vera has antifungal and antibacterial properties, and is claimed to inhibit nail fungus while promoting healing of the nail. It can be used either as a foot soak or applied as a rub on the nail.
- Various herbs can inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus, including garlic, ginger, thyme, and chamomile. They are used to boost the immune system and may have some effect on very mild nail infections, although there is little scientific evidence to prove this.