Vicks Vinegar Tea tree or something else –
We see a lot of patients with nail fungus. Yup, we have heard a lot of remedies and we also understand how embarrassing and worrisome it can be. From Lemons to antifreeze we have heard stories. Despite a lot of marketing hype there is also no evidence based treatment for nail fungus. So… what to do
Vicks is a common suggestion. The rationale is that the menthol impregnated petroleum will some how suffocate and mentholate the fungus. While there may be some truth to this, the reality is the petroleum softens the nails, sometimes so much that they literally melt off. That’s one way to get rid of a fungal nail but the fungus is still there and will continue to flourish.
Any antifungal only applied to the nail (that’s tea tree, listerine, fancy nail polish, expensive liquids), struggles to get down through the protective keratin layers. People put a lot of effort into getting rid of fungus. They also often mistake a thick nail ( dystrophic) or an injured nail for a fungal nail. Sure, there are success stories, but honestly fungus is tenacious.
At FootCare by Nurses we decided to take a different approach. Instead of just looking at the nails, we look at the skin on the foot. Is there a sub clinical issue happening there? What about the immune system?
You see nail fungus has friends, and those microbiological friends are part of a system that supports nail fungus. If the immune system is struggling opportunistic infections happen. If we can kindly remove some of the friends, and the food that nail fungus eats, and then enhance the health of the skin and maybe even talk about immunity, then maybe a healthier looking, fungal free nail can grow out.
How do we do this? Well we do a full foot assessment and we are looking for clues. We ask … what’s going on ( we are nurses so we can do this). We also take a high speed rotary tool and remove (debride) the nail of fungus and reduce the thickness back to a functional thickness. Our recommended soak is Apple cider vinegar for the whole foot. Vinegar is the same acidity as the skin is supposed to be. the evidence says vinegar supports the efficacy of antifungals. We then recommend coconut oil or coconut oil based lotions. And we give instructions and monitor.
Nope, we don’t recommend Vicks or tea tree, but we understand where you are coming from. Our work is to work with people.
Keeping fungus at bay has a lot to do with the immune system. A diabetic elder is more apt to have fungal nails than a healthy elder. Men have it more than women. The vinegar soaks and the coconut oil are a management program. Yes, it takes effort and yes it’s important to understand how it works. Our way is not a plan of care for everyone, but we have a lot of patients who paid a lot of money for expensive oral antifungals, nail lacquers, Vicks and even Lazer treatments whose feet have never looked or felt as good as they do under our care.
You don’t have to have Fungal dystrophic nails, but to not have them does take some effort.