• Home
  • |
  • Blog
  • |
  • VICKS Vapor Rub for Toenail Fungus – Myth or Miracle Cure?

VICKS Vapor Rub for Toenail Fungus – Myth or Miracle Cure?

February 20, 2019

Is VICKS VapoRub for toenail fungus effective?

There our a lot of home remedies out there for curing toenail fungus, but a lot of them simply do not work. You have apple cider vinegar, Epsom salt baths, all the essential oils, etc.

VICKS Vaper Rub, which is really called the trademark name of VICKS VapoRub, is one of the many cheap treatment options out there that some people suggest… But… Does… It… Actually… Work?

The answer is YES, at least to some extent... It definitely does have some potential as a treatment option as you will see. And... it's easy to find in stores and it's cheap, so of course this is something that a lot of people are going to be interested in, especially when you look at other treatment options which can get pretty darn expensive.

Some statistics say that around 10% of the population has at least some amount of toenail fungus and around 50% of people 70 years old and older have it. It's a pretty crazy statistic and there is no doubt that toenail fungus is a big problem.

Much of the time it goes away on its own due to the body's effective immune response, but sometimes it can get out of hand and requires serious attention. Of course you do not want that to happen so treating as soon as possible should be a priority.

Toenail Fungus Explained:

The scientific name for toenail fungus is onchomycosis, and this becomes a problem when microscopic fungi organisms begin to set up camp underneath or on your nails. Fungi thrive in the warm and often damp environment that is usually found in that area of your body, which is why people who wear air tight shoes all the time and don't let their feet air out are much more likely to suffer from this.

These nasty little organisms feed off your nail tissue and leave debris in the area, which causes the nail to fracture, lift off the bed, and turn into an all around gross looking mess. Infection can lead to symptoms like...

  • Thickened nails
  • Discoloration, usually whitish or yellowish
  • Brittle fractured nails
  • Distortion of shape
  • Darkened color from all the dead debris
  • Bad smells and strange looks from onlookers

The first thing you want to do before trying a bunch of treatments is to find out for sure if your problem really is a fungal infection. There are other problems that have similar symptoms. And this is something you want to do ASAP, because the longer you wait the more damage it will cause and the harder it will be to get rid of.

That said, using VICKS VapoRub isn't very expensive so if you are fairly certain it is a fungal problem it may be worth the try. After all, even if it isn't, applying this stuff isn't going to be harmful.

What Is VICKS VapoRub?

All this talk about Vicks VapoRub, but what actually is this stuff in the first place?

In short: Vicks VapoRub is a #1 selling branded children and adult cough cold product. Well... That is the main use of it anyhow. However, this Proctor & Gamble Company product is a very versatile and also is commonly used for pain relief when applied topically to aching muscles and joints.

Using it as a way to treat toenail fungus is much lesser-known, but nonetheless is something that people are using it for and finding some success with.

And one of the many good things about it is that you can trust it. There are plenty of toenail fungus treatment "scammy" products that have been exposed on this site, like Fungus Hack for example, and VICKS is definitely not one of them.

Is There Any Real Proof That It Works?

Let's get right to the point here... is there any proof that this stuff actually works? Because I'm sure a lot of people reading this have wasted a lot of time, patience and money trying things that simply turn out to be complete duds.

Does it really work?

Well... when it comes to the effectiveness of VICK's specifically dealing with nail fungus, there unfortunately isn't much research out there. That said, there is some...

A study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine in 2011 took a look at the effects of VICKS on 18 patients who were suffering from onychomycosis (toenail fungus) over a period of 48 weeks (yes... a long time!).

The results were measured in 3 ways. They measured its effectiveness as a cure both mycologically and clinically, as well as on a personal assessment by the patients themselves.

The results: 15 of the 18 patients, or a whopping 83%, showed positive effects. And... 5 of the patients, or 27.8%, had been cured based on mycological and clinical results after the 48 weeks were up. 10 patients, or 55.6%, had infections that cleared up partially and only 3 had no change.

All in all... pretty good results.

Lack of proof?

​​​​As stated, there really isn't much information and research out there specifically on VICKS VapoRub's effectiveness when it comes to this. 

The study mentioned above definitely proves some effectiveness and has some positives, however there has been some criticism as to the way this study was conducted, which might make it carry a little less weight.

However, there is a fair amount more research that has been done on the ingredients that are contained in this vapor rub product, which make results seem all the more promising when used as a treatment.

Why Does It Work? A Look at The Ingredients

In order to answer the question of why does VICKS work?... we first need to take a look at the ingredients it contains.

It has some proof of working, so what it is exactly that makes it effective?

The ingredients included in the normal VICKS VapoRub include the following:

Active Ingredients

  • Camphor (4.8%)
    • Used commonly for pain relief, anti-irritant, against coughs, and yes... even as an antifungal.
    • Reduces pain and swelling and increases blood flow when applied topically.
    • 2014 study published in the journal Biological Research shows it does indeed have antifungal activity, although not particularly when dealing with toenail fungus. It has been shown to inhibit growth of fungi better than other essential oils.
  • Eucalyptus oil (1.2%)
    • Commonly used for coughs, clearing the chest, as a disinfectant, helping control blood sugar, joint pain, against infections and more.
    • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
    • 2015 study in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research took 22 participants with toenail fungus and tested the application of eucalyptus oil. The results were that 86% saw superficial nail fungus clear up within 4 months and those with subungual and proximal subungual onychomycosis also saw decent results.
  • Menthol (2.6%)
    • Used to reduce inflammation, sooth cuts/burns, for respiratory problems, etc
    • Cool soothing properties that give a very relieving feeling.
    • Shown to inhibit fungal growth, as stated in Journal de Mycologie Medicale.

Inactive Ingredients

  • Cedarleaf oil
  • Nutmeg oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Thymol
  • Turpentine oil

Potential to Attack Fungus from Multiple Angles

VICKS VapoRub contains many good ingredients that have the potential to fight off fungal infections... and they are all ingredients that are overall healthy and pose no big health risks.

There are a lot of essential oils here. You have camphor and eucalyptus oil that have been tested against fungus and shown positive signs. Then you have other essential oils that are "inactive ingredients" for VICKS's intended use, but will actually help out in the fight against fungus. For example: Cedarleaf oil is listed as inactive but has been shown to have antimicrobial properties.

And of course you have menthol, which we all love the feel of. It carries much of the responsibility for the cool and soothing feeling you get when you apply VICKS... and does actually have real benefits as well.

There are many good ingredients here, both "active" and "inactive" that have the potential to help from many different angles. There may still be a lack of research done directly on the effectiveness of VICKS against fungal infections such as toenail fungus but there is a fair amount of supporting indirect evidence to back it up.

What Real Users Are Saying

There is a lot of talk about using VICKS for toenail fungus and a lot of people recommending it online, HOWEVER, there is a lack of information coming from people who have actually used it to treat such.

Most of the information I have found comes from sources saying things like "it can be used for this", "it has been used for that", and things like this. 

It would be nice to see some more good evidence of it working, but at the same time, the lack of good evidence doesn't mean that it doesn't work.

I was able to find a small number of reviews (pictured below) on Amazon. Of course there weren't many because most people's reviews talk about other things since treating toenail fungus isn't the reason most people buy it.

*If you do have your own success story with VICKS VapoRub be sure to leave it in the comment section below for others to see!

The Price Certainly Doesn't Get Any Better

If you are going to try a treatment for toenail fungus then one thing you definitely have to consider is the price... and the price here is pretty darn good fortunately.

A 1.76 oz (50g) little tub usually costs somewhere around $5-6 and you can pick it up at any Walmart, Walgreen's, CVS, and plenty other stores.

That is a very cheap treatment and I'm sure you are well aware of that if you have been searching for treatments for any good length of time. 

There are some rather ridiculously priced toenail fungus treatments out there that show less promising results than VICKS.

*Emuaid MAX is a more expensive topical treatment, but is something else you may want to read about. It is one of the very few toenail fungus treatments that we recommend here at Operation Wellness.


Now there is no real right or wrong way to go about applying it. However, there are a few tips that can help to increase the likelihood that it is going to be effective.

1) Put your feet in warm water for 15 minutes and then wipe dry with a clean towel

This helps to soften up the area to allow for better absorption. If you don't have time for it you can skip it though, because it is not too important.

2) Trim the nail

Then you are going to want to trim up the nail. Cut off as much of the dead debris as possible. This way the VICKS can get to the root of the infection faster rather than having to try to absorb through already dead nail.

You may also want to trim the edge at a slight angle. This allows for more surface area at the end, which is where much absorption can occur.

3) Apply liberally

Don't skimp out when it comes to applying the vapor rub. Get it on your toenail, underneath it really good, and all around the area. It works best to apply a little, rub it in and let it absorb, and then apply a bit more.

Gloves should be worn so that you don't touch the infected area with your hands and a q-tip can be used to help get around the nail. 

4) Repeat 2 Times a Day

Rinse and repeat. You should try to do this at least twice a day. 

Another Alternative

Another good alternative if VICKS does not work or if you just want to try something different is EmuaidMAX, which I briefly mentioned above.

EmuaidMAX is another treatment that you would apply topically. It can be used for a number of things due to its antiseptic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

However, it is more expensive. That said, it seems to be more effective as well and is also marketed by the company for toenail fungus due to it's effectiveness.

Review of EmuaidMAX here

Comments or questions? Leave them below 🙂

Agent Kyle

Kyle is the founder and chief editor at HealthBuster.org. He takes pride in providing truthful product reviews to warn the public of potential waste of money products and scams.

Leave a Reply

Lina Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. I have used Vicks Vaporub for Toenail fungus and it killed the fungus within two days.

    However the fungus went down the length of my toenail and took almost a year to grow out.

    I continued to use it on my feet as a cure and preventative for tinea and in case the fungus reactivated before the Toenail grew out.

    Just be aware the Vaporub stains carpets and it is very very hard to clean the stains.

  2. I tried Vicks on a fungal infection on my feet that I contracted in Mx. I put the Vicks on at night and wear socks, in the morning the change was noticeable from the first application. The skin appeared as if someone had filed down. I’m continuing to use it. It’s been only a month. It’s 85% better.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}