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Fact or Fiction: Vicks VapoRub Kills Toenail Fungus

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If you have nail fungus, you’ve probably heard of the home-remedy “cure” of using Vicks VapoRub. But can this over-the-counter topical cough suppressant really kill toenail fungus? 

While this would be a cost-effective cure, running around five bucks a bottle, is it backed by science? 

In this article, we’ll go over a scientific study that was out to answer the same question. 


What’s the connection between Vicks VapoRub and toenail fungus? 

You’re probably familiar with the strong smell of this over-the-counter topical cough suppressant by Procter & Gamble. Giving Vicks VapoRub its infamous smell is camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol.

The connection between toenail fungus and VapoRub comes down to the two active ingredients: camphor, eucalyptus oil. These ingredients have been seen to have antifungal properties.

While their intended use is to soothe a cough when applied to the chest, there are some that swear it’s strong enough to kill toenail fungus.

Toenail fungus can be caused by a few different strains of fungi. Can VapoRub act as a catch-all and kill all toenail fungus? 

Let’s find out. 


Consulting the scientific research 

It’s time to get science-y.

In 2011, an interesting study researching over-the-counter cures for toenail fungus was published. In this study, researchers used Vicks VapoRub against toenail fungus. 

The first thing to note here is there are a few types of toenail fungus. Toenail fungus can be caused by dermatophytes, yeasts, and non-dermatophyte molds.

However, the most common culprit of toenail fungus is the dermatophyte trichophyton rubrum, also known as T. rubrum.  

In this study, researchers studied the following toenail fungus:

  • T. mentagrophytes (dermatophyte)
  • T. rubrum (dermatophyte)
  • Candida parapsilosis (yeast)

After 48 weeks, all patients with T. mentagrophytes or Candida parapsilosis toenail fungus went on to a “total cure”.  

While those with the common T. rubrum seemed to fare the worst. Of the 6 with positive T. rubrum cultures, 5 saw a particle cure and 1 saw no change.

Remember, T. rubrum is commonly the fungi culprit behind most toenail fungus infections... 


So, can Vicks VapoRub kill toenail fungus?

While the study concluded positively, stating “Vicks VapoRub seems to have a positive clinical effect in the treatment onychomycosis” -- it’s clear it only works for some. 

(T. rubrum party excluded.)

Since most toenail infections are caused by T. rubrum, it’s not likely Vicks VapoRub can help kill your infection. However, if your infection is yeast-based or due to T. mentagrophytes -- it might help.

One clear limitation to this study is the lack of patient follow-up after product use stops. Considering nail fungus infections easily and quickly reoccur after treatment, it’s quite difficult to consider it a “cure” if it reoccurs.   


Summary

Can Vicks VapoRub treat toenail fungus? 

Yes and no. 

Vicks VapoRub can’t treat the most common fungus culprit. Which, might suggest for the large majority -- it’s just not useful. 

If your infection is primary yeast-based or due to T. mentagrophytes -- Vicks VapoRub might help. 

For the rest of us, trusty and tested azole antifungal drugs such as ketoconazole might be the best way forward.

If you want to see if our prescription medicated nail fungus cream may be a good fit for your toenail fungus, you can have a free online consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your medication can be shipped to you with our free shipping.


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