COVID-19 has been discouraging many people from visiting health professionals for common complaints. As long as the condition is not serious, we think home remedies offer a viable alternative. That is especially true for something like nail fungus.

Nails that are infected often look pretty ugly, but they usually do not require urgent attention. Yellow, brown or crumbly nails are more a cosmetic problem than a serious health condition.

Readers of this column have been sharing their success stories for decades.

Lisa emphasizes the need for patience: “I fought toenail fungus for several years. It seemed like I had two different kinds. One made the surface of the nail white and rough, and the other turned the nail yellow or orange. That one also caused the nail to crumble over time.

“After reading about it on The People’s Pharmacy, I tried tea tree oil first. It was very effective on the white toenail fungus. The nails grew out clear and stayed that way.

“I tried Vicks next, and it worked on the yellow toenails. That was a slower process, as there was more damage. Several times when I was just getting one nail finished, the fungus would start on another one. It took about three years to get every nail clear, but I have had no new fungus for over a year now. The treatments were inexpensive and easy, but patience is required!”

Indeed, it takes patience to clear up toenail fungus because toenails grow so slowly. Even prescription antifungal medicines can take a long time, as Theresa attests: “I had toenail fungus for years and finally asked for help in getting rid of it. The doctor prescribed a generic oral pill, and it took nearly a year to get rid of it all.

“A few years later, my second toe began to turn yellow again. I read about using Vicks and started applying it at night before bed. Voila! It’s gone! Now I keep the Vicks on my nightstand — just in case.”

Elizabeth has a special solution for soaking her toes: “What I have used for nail fungus, with great success, is a foot soak of 1 cup Listerine, 1 cup white vinegar and 2 cups warm water. I soak for 15 to 20 minutes and towel dry the feet but don’t rinse them. This takes time but it works.”

Sam tried an unusual approach: “I’ve struggled with toenail fungus on my big toe for over five years. None of the remedies I tried really worked.

“This spring I purchased a tube of ‘medical grade’ Manuka honey ointment to have on hand for burns and scrapes. I started putting just a small dab on and under my toenail before I put my socks on every morning. I noticed a difference in about a week. A lot of the darkest color had disappeared.

“Three months later, I can clearly see where my nail is growing out with no fungus. The honey is brown, so it stains the nail, but that’s a more than acceptable trade-off for me. I’m guessing that after about five months of treatment, my nail will finally be back to normal.”

Another remedy that stains the nail and the toe is the antifungal gentian violet: “I have used gentian violet with great success. It does dye your toe purple, but with nail fungus I was not wearing open-toe shoes anyway. You can get this online or at the pharmacy. It’s cheap and effective.”

Obviously, any of these remedies requires patience. Nothing works for everyone, but fortunately none is very expensive.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Their syndicated radio show can be heard on public radio. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email them via their website:

—King Features

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