It’s summer — time to let your feet breathe! Stretching your toes out in the sand, walking barefoot in the grass, and slipping on your favorite sandals again feels so good. The downside? Warped, discolored nails for the 75 percent of us with stubborn toenail fungus. Here, three proven remedies that you can use at home to get your tootsies looking beach and sandal-ready.
Get rid of grooves with Vicks VapoRub.
Don’t put away the cold remedy yet! Vicks VapoRub (Buy from Amazon, $8) is proven to cure thickened, wavy nails caused by toenail fungus for 83 percent of study participants in 12 weeks, according to U.S. Air Force scientists. The salve’s abundance of natural antifungals (like thymol, menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil) work in tandem to smother trouble-causing spores. Plus, at $5, it saves patients as much as $876 compared to prescription treatments, says study lead Richard Derby, M.D. Tip: Repurpose an old toothbrush to work the product into the nooks and crannies under and around your toenails once daily.
Erase discoloration with a Clorox soak.
Sounds wacky, but soaking your feet in diluted bleach packs a one-two punch that brightens fungus-yellowed toenails while stopping an infection in its tracks. Credit goes to hypochlorous acid, a natural antibacterial compound found in bleach, reveals Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. It eradicates fungus spores as it gently lightens darkened keratin proteins in toenails. To do: Stir no more than one tablespoon of bleach (a higher concentration will irritate skin) into eight cups of warm water, then soak feet in the mixture for 10 minutes a day for two weeks.
Add shine with pampering polish.
No need to hide your toes while waiting for your treatment to kick in! New high-tech nail polishes let you add gloss to your tootsies as you quash fungal spores, thanks to their tea tree oil-infused formula. University of California scientists say when used for 16 weeks, this natural antifungal ingredient stamps out nail fungus as well as an Rx! One to try: Dr.’s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.