The People's Perspective on Medicine

Is Vitamin E Oil a Cure for Toenail Fungus?

Many people would love a simple, inexpensive cure for toenail fungus. One reader used topical vitamin E to good effect. What remedies have you tried?
Toenail Fungus

Are your toenails lovely, or are they thick, peeling, brown or yellow? If you are happy to hide your toenails (hurray, winter boots!), you might get excited about a cure for toenail fungus. We should caution up front that we don’t think there is one cure for everyone. However, we were pleased to hear from a reader who got a great result by applying vitamin E oil topically.

Vitamin E Oil as a Cure for Toenail Fungus:

Q. I’d like to recommend a cure for toenail fungus: Vitamin E oil. When I first read about it, I thought it would never work. But after using many other things, I tried it, and within two weeks I could see healing.

Here’s what I did. I bought a big bottle of generic vitamin E oil capsules and heated one up with a hair dryer so the oil would flow easily. I used a safety pin to pierce the capsule and squeezed oil onto the base and the top of affected nails morning and evening. After they healed, I kept it up once daily. My nails are perfectly clear now.

History of Vitamin E Oil for Nail Fungus:

A. We first heard about topical vitamin E oil for nail fungus in 1991.

A nurse scolded us for not knowing about this home remedy:

“My doctor noticed my ugly, brown, thickened toenails during a routine physical several years ago. She told me to buy vitamin E capsules. I broke them with a pin and squirted the liquid on the toenail and between the toe and the nail.

“I could feel some kind of reaction happening. My toenails cleared up and the condition has not returned. I am a registered nurse and thought this treatment was worth trying even though it sounded weird.”

Other Readers Have Used This Cure for Toenail Fungus:

Since then, other readers have reported success with topical vitamin E oil for toenail fungus. One dermatologist wrote about a case in which topical application of a 400 IU capsule of vitamin E oil nightly had a rapid, dramatic effect on established toenail fungus (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 1983). 

He concluded:

“Daily topical application of the contents of a vitamin E capsule appears to have resolved a severe, chronic dermatophytosis of the toenails.”

We regret that no dermatology researchers have seen fit to follow up on this. We would love to see studies that show whether or not vitamin E oil can be helpful in fighting nail fungus. (Dermatologists call it onychomycosis, pronounced Oh-nick-oh-my-KO-siss.)

A Word of Warning:

Some people develop contact dermatitis in response to vitamin E oil. We recommend that you test this approach first, cautiously, before applying it to all your toenails.

Nail fungus can be very hard to eradicate. That is why we are somewhat reluctant to hail vitamin E oil as a cure for toenail fungus. Some people respond well to one treatment while others do not. Keep in mind this is also true of prescription medications.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Goldsmith S, "Vitamin E and onychomycosis." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, June 1983.
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Now I have about 86 other treatments to try. I would like to see only comments about vitamin E oil, please.

I’ve used Milk of Magnesia to good effect. It took a few months of applying daily but it finally worked!

Cleared my toenail problem up in 2 weeks with dabbing NeemCure on it, derived from the oil of the neem tree of Africa. Neem oil has proven anti-fungal properties, and dabbing a few drops on with a paper towel and letting it sit for an hour each evening for two weeks killed the fungus. The dark toenail then takes a few months to grow out and get clipped off progressively until it looks normal, but I did not apply the NeemCure after the two-week period.

I used a few drops of tea tree oil, once a week. I got fast results and it didn’t return.

Vietnam veteran turned me onto this over 20 years ago. He claimed it was only thing that got rid of his toenail fungus that he’d gotten, and has had since, his time in that wet war.

Finally, got to try it myself last year. There was noticeable improvement in couple days and cleared mine up within three weeks. Wished, afterwards that I’d have taken before/after photos. Results were pretty dramatic.

Once morning, once evening I’d dab on a saturated solution of potassium iodide crystals dissolved in DMSO and let absorb for the 15-20 minutes it needed until dry. I’d make up a teaspoon worth of it at a time and that’d last nearly a week if only a single toe.

Of course, YMMV, and I’m not a doctor, and certainly not yours, so you’d need to first run this by your own physician who knows best your medical history, conditions and medications.

I love vitamin E, although I hadn’t heard of this use before. Definitely try all-natural (d-alpha rather than dl-alpha) on cuts and burns. Prevents scarring, helps healing, and gets rid of older scars too – just takes a lot longer.

What I have used for nail fungus, with great success, is a foot soak of 1C Listerine, 1C white vinegar, and 2C warm water. I soak for 15 – 20 minutes and towel dry but don’t rinse. Areas of dry skin will be a bright blue-green, but it will wash off.

Solgar makes a liquid form of vitamin E, comes in a dropper bottle, so it would be easy to apply.

I had toe nail fungus on my big toe on my left foot for almost a year and a half. I started using Vicks Vapor Rub and covering it with a bandaid. I did that for almost a year, and it started clearing up. I have almost a full nail now, and its a GOOD one now.

My doctor recommended Lamisil AT cream as the best OTC drug and it works. But you have to keep at it.

I have been using decolonized iodine three or four times a week for the past four weeks. It appears to have arrested and begun to reverse the progress of my toenail fungus. I read of this in a prior People’s Pharmacy article.

I was told by my pedicurist to use cider vinegar soaks, alternating with a drop of chlorine bleach on the nail. This works better than the prescription Ciclopirox nail lacquer, and it’s a lot cheaper! Nails now clear! It took months tho–will maybe try Vit E occasionally for future maintenance.

I was taking Menbendazole for another reason, and surprise, my toenail fungus was cleared in two weeks! I have suffered for 30 years with it! It will take a year for the nail to grow out, and I will know for sure if it comes back. The nails just fell off! Am I the only one this has happened to?

I drip a couple drops of rubbing alcohol under the nail every day for a couple weeks. Then do it a couple times a week until the nail grows enough to be sure it is cured.

I used Nizoral 1% shampoo purchased OTC and it cleared it up.

Tea tree oil works for me. I applied it directly out of the bottle with a Qtip.

Vicks Vaporub (I use dollar store version that has same ingredients) seems to be working for me. I’ve been battling this for over a year, trying several different remedies. Will keep vitamin E in mind just in case.

Thank you for bringing this wonderful remedy to light!

They never say what I U they use. 200, 400, or 1,000 ?

I am curious about the length of time it takes for any of these cures to work. My PCP diagnosed toe nail fungus on the big toe on my left foot and suggested I try tea tree oil. Over a six month period, I tried that and other natural remedies. It wasn’t going away, so i finally went to a podiatrist who did a culture which came back negative for fungus, so I think the treatments cleared up the fungus but the nail still looked terrible. Well, now the nail is growing out, and everything is almost back to normal. Point is, it took almost a year, as my PCP said it would. Will vitamin E treatments, or any other treatments,take that long? Thought in general?

I use a 50/50 mix of Listerine and white vinegar followed by Vicks Vaporub once per day. It took awhile but cleared up the toenail fungus. Will try Vit.E if I have an occurrence since it may work faster.

Wonder if they are using natural or synthetic vitamin e oil?

I’m using corn & epsom salt & it works well.

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