Black Toenail Fungus Treatment: 9 Simple Home Remedies

black toenail fungus treatment

Runners’ feet have a tough job. They’re always getting laced up, warmed up and even beaten up! The result can be a black toenail. This striking symptom can actually be caused by different factors. It can sometimes be mistaken for an injury but it’s actually caused by black toenail fungus.

In some cases, black toenail fungus is painless. But what people find alarming is its problematic appearance.

The good news is you do not need to worry too much about black toenails: this condition is treatable. This article will share safe and easy home remedies for black toenail fungus.

Causes of Black Toenail Fungus

black toenail fungus treatment

photo by shira gal

People who walk barefoot are more likely to get fungal infections, as their feet are directly exposed to pathogens in the environment on a regular basis. 

It’s also common in runners and those whose feet tend to sweat excessively, as this creates the kind of warm, humid environment that fungus thrives in.  

Black toenail fungus is also known as onychomycosis, an infection caused by microscopic fungal spores.

In the medical field, these spores are called dermatophytes, which thrive under the toenails.

The fungus carries away the keratin, making the entire toenail black and smelly.

If the toenail section is regularly exposed to a warm and humid environment, it becomes a prospective area for the development of black toenail fungus. A fungus-friendly environment likely exists due to:

  • Cutting nails too short.
  • Excessive sweating of the feet. (If so, seek medical assistance.)
  • Wearing socks and boots for too long.
  • Wearing tight shoes causes the feet to sweat more than usual.
  • Spending time in public pools and beaches.
  • Walking barefoot on dirty surfaces.
  • Experiencing trauma or injury.
  • Abnormal pH level of the skin.
  • Sharing personal hygiene products with others.
  • Not drying your feet after bathing.

A Fungal Toenail Infection May Cause:

  • Flaking and crumbling nails
  • Increased nail thickness
  • Nail discoloration
  • Intense pain while walking
  • Unpleasant odor

While these symptoms may appear to be minor, they actually require immediate medical attention. These inital symptoms may indicate or develop into to more serious health issues.

black toenail fungus treatment

photo by Dave Herholz

Black Toenail Fungus Assessment

Before we discuss the treatments, take note of the following first:

  • If the black portion is larger than 25% of your toenail, see a podiatrist immediately. Cautery therapy will be performed, and this will alleviate the pain and may actually save your toenail.
  • If you have an acute injury and your toenail is actively bleeding, go to the nearest emergency room or podiatrist to have it examined. You may have a laceration on the nail bed and it will have to be treated by a specialist.
  • If the nail is so damaged that you even have a toe fracture, seek professional help right away.
  • Invasive home treatments are not recommended. It is best to seek professional treatment and care.
  • In less severe cases, black toenail fungus can be treated and prevented quite easily using home remedies.

Black Toenail Fungus Home Remedies

In general, simply having good personal hygiene and applying a few home treatments will be enough to solve the problem.

1. Tea Tree Oil

black nail fungus treatment

Tea tree oil is a natural fungicide that can help kill the fungus in the toenail. It is considered to be the best onychomycosis treatment.


  • Mix equal parts tea tree, thyme, and olive oils.
  • Apply the mixture on the entire toenail. Leave on for at least 10-15 minutes.
  • Gently scrub the affected area with a brush. This will help the mixture get absorbed more easily as well as remove the upper layer of the toenail which contains most of the fungi spores.
  • Wash the toenail properly and pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Apply this treatment twice daily for a few weeks to completely eliminate any residual fungi.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

black toenail fungus pictures

photo by Mike Mozart

Apple cider vinegar is an excellent remedy for getting rid of black toenail fungus. It is a mild acid that extirpates fungal growth.


  • Mix equal parts warm water and apple cider vinegar in a tub.
  • Soak your feet in the tub for at least 15 minutes.
  • Rinse and dry off.
  • Alternatively, you can make a thick paste by adding some apple cider vinegar to rice flour.
  • Apply the paste on the affected area and leave on for 15 minutes.
  • Wash and dry the area afterwards.

3. Lavender Oil

black toenail fungus

Lavender oil is a natural antibiotic that can help treat black toenails quickly and efficiently.


  • Soak a cotton ball in lavender oil.
  • Dab the cotton ball underneath the toenail and wrap it with a bandage.
  • Wait at least 40 minutes before cleaning the area.
  • Repeat two to three times a day for a few weeks.

4. Oregano Oil

dark toenail fungus

Oregano oil is an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic.


  • Mix two drops of oregano oil in one teaspoon of olive oil.
  • Apply the mixture on the affected area and wait at least 15 minutes.
  • Wash and dry the area thoroughly.
  • Continue applying this remedy for at least three weeks to completely eliminate the infection.

5. Hydrogen Peroxide

home remedies for black toenail fungus

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent treatment for black toenail fungus, as this chemical compound has antiseptic, disinfectant, and antifungal properties

Soaking your affected nail in a mild hydrogen peroxide solution can, therefore, be very effective for eliminating toenail fungus.


  • Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water.
  • Soak the foot with the black toenail for at least 20 minutes.
  • Do not forget to dry off.
  • Repeat at least twice a day for a few weeks.

6. AHA Cream

Some creams contain alphahydroxyacid, which is great in countering fungal growth. It will smoothen rough skin and prevent fungi spores from thriving.


  • Apply the cream at night just before going to bed.

7. Coconut Oil

how to treat black toenail fungus

Coconut oil is a natural fungicide, making it a highly effective treatment for black toenail fungus. It’s antimicrobial and anti inflammatory properties help to kill off the pathogens causing the infection, whilst also reducing swelling and discomfort in the affected toes.

Coconut oil is also an excellent moisturizer, which can help to soften and nourish toenails,  encouraging repair and strong regrowth of the affected nails.

Apply a small quantity of organic, vegan coconut oil to your infected toenails, and gently massage for a few minutes before leaving to dry naturally. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times daily until your infection has cleared.

8. Lemon Juice


The high concentration of citric acid in lemon juice is what makes it an excellent remedy for toenail fungus, as it has strong antifungal and antiseptic properties. This can help to prevent the spread of infection, whilst killing off the microbes that are causing it.

Apply fresh lemon juice directly to the infected toenail, leaving it on for half and hour before washing the affected nail in clean water. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times daily, until the infection has gone.

Alternatively, combine equal quantities of lemon juice and olive oil to create an ointment that you can massage into the affected toenail. This helps to not only clear the infection, but also softens the surrounding skin and nail, encouraging strong and healthy growth.

9. Reduce Sweating

Protective Shoe Gear

Excessive sweating can exacerbate a toenail infection, as fungus thrives in warm, damp environments.

Avoiding wearing tight fitting shoes and socks can, therefore, help to eliminate toenail fungus, as this allows your feet to breathe and makes conditions inside your shoe less optimal for the microbe to live in.

Choose natural cotton socks for a breathable fabric that helps your feet to stay dry, as this will help to prevent the infection from spreading or worsening.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

While it's good to know the different ways to treat black toenail fungus, it's more important to prevent it in the first place. The key here is to have good personal hygiene.

Best practices include:

  • Trim nails properly all around, including the corners.
  • Do not wear the same pair of shoes for two days in a row.
  • Wash socks and footwear regularly.
  • Wear breathable and protective footwear.
  • Avoid walking or running barefoot.
  • Avoid sharing personal items for the sake of your health.

Without that cleanliness, these home treatments will not be as effective. The fungus may keep returning.

Remember, seek medical attention if the condition persists and home remedies are not working. If the situation gets worse, you could lose your toenail.

Happy, healthy feet make a happy, healthy runner. Fungal infections will keep you on your toes, but good hygiene, home remedies and appropriate medical attention will make sure you stay on the right track.

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