Toenail fungus, also called onychomycosis, is a common fungal infection that can cause toenails to become thick, brittle, and yellow in appearance. This condition is caused by fungal microorganisms infecting the nail itself as well as the nailbed underneath. Using the medicated chest rub Vicks® for toenail fungus is a common home remedy that has not been scientifically proven as a toenail fungus cure, but is supported by anecdotal evidence and some limited scientific studies. When using Vicks® as a home remedy for toenail fungus, the ointment is usually applied to the infected nail once or twice per day, and the nail is then covered with a bandage, gauze, or a pair of clean socks. The makers of Vicks® VapoRub® do not advocate its use as a toenail fungus home remedy, and it is advisable to consult a doctor before beginning any treatments.
Specific instructions for how to use Vicks® for toenail fungus vary, but often involve soaking the infected foot in hot or warm water for 20 minutes or more, usually before bedtime. The foot should then be thoroughly dried. It is possible to apply the VapoRub® without soaking the foot, but the water is thought to make the nails and skin absorb the treatment more effectively. Filing the affected nail gently with an emory board, and cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide is sometimes recommended before applying Vicks®. After the entire nail and surrounding skin has been covered with Vicks®, the treated area can be covered with sterile gauze or similar item or one can put on a pair of clean, dry socks to avoid staining sheets and other items.
Some people believe that using Vicks® for toenail fungus can worsen the condition rather than help it, because covering the infected nail provides the fungus with a moist, warm environment that can promote more fungal growth. However, some limited scientific studies do show that some of the ingredients in Vicks® can have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Specifically, the eucalyptus oil, camphor, menthol, and thymol in Vicks® have been shown to have such properties.
Toenail fungus usually takes a long time to clear up, whether prescription medication or home remedies are used to treat it. When using Vicks® for toenail fungus, one can expect improvement to take at least several weeks and usually several months. Vicks® should not be used for children under 12 without consulting a doctor, and Vicks® VapoRub® should not be used at all on children under 2.