Tea Tree Oil and
Toe Nail Fungus

Can you use tea tree oil to treat uncomplicated toe nail fungus? Research shows some natural oils contain active ingredients with anti-fungal properties. Proper application of these oils may reduce and eliminate yellowing and crusty infected nail beds without side effects.

Toe nail fungus is a very common health condition that can be frustrating to treat. Common treatments may include powerful antifungal medications or sprays. One of the most popular anti-fungal medications is called Lamisil, available by prescription through your doctor.



Some of these medications are effective, however, one of the problems with some antifungals is the high cost and the risk of side effects such as diarrhea, rashes and abdominal pain. It may also take weeks for the infected nails to grow out before you begin seeing positive results.

However, there are natural alternatives to costly medications that may offer relief. Tea tree oil has been proven to kill fungus and it may be an effective way to get cleaner, healthy-looking nails.

The following studies showcase the possible effectiveness of using tea tree oils on toenail fungus.

1. Tea Tree Oil has 80% Cure Rate in Toe Nail Fungus Study

San Francisco, USA - A study published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and International Health found some tea tree oils were more effective at eliminating toe nail fungus when combined with a commonly prescribed antifungal.

Researchers looked at the effectiveness of tea tree oil and butenafine (an anti-inflammatory/anti-fungal drug) in a group of patients with persistent toe nail fungus.

Sixty (60) patients with toe nail fungus for the last 6 - 36 months were split into 2 groups. One group received a tea tree oil/butenafine cream and the other group received a placebo. The treatments lasted for 16 weeks.

Researchers found the group using tea tree oils experienced an 80% cure rate and follow-up examinations revealed the fungus did not return in the same group.

Researchers concluded that a mixture of tea tree oil and butenafine is an effective treatment stubborn toe nail fungus.

2. Tea Tree Oils are 64% More Effective than Drugs for Treating Toe Nail Fungus

close-up picture of bare feet

New York - Researchers compared 100% tea tree oil against 1% Clotrimazole (drug commonly prescribed to treat yeast infections and fungal infections) to see which is more effective in treating fungal infections.

One hundred and seventeen (117) patients with toe nail fungus were asked to apply either 100% tea tree oil or 1% Clotrimazole to their toe nails. Participants applied either treatment two times a day for six months.

Toe nails and lab cultures of fungus were analyzed at the start of the study and throughout the study. Patients were then asked to complete a questionnaire for their own assessments at three months after the study ended.

At the end of the study, researchers found tea tree oils had an 18% cure rate - almost 64% more than the 1% clotrimazole group.

One of the advantages to using non-medicated means to treat fungal infections is the reduced risk for side effects. Use of anti-fungals, such as clotrimazole, may have the following side effects:

  • itching

  • burning

  • irritation

  • redness

  • swelling

Preliminary research shows that using tea tree oils may be an effective and natural treatment.

Dr. Jean Galloway, Naturopathic Physician, offers some advice on using tea tree oil for toenail fungus:

Here's some points to remember, based on my personal experience:

  • You must wait for your toe nails to grow out to see permanent results. I noticed an immediate decrease in yellowing after applying tea tree oil, but the best results seem to appear after my nails grew out.

  • Be consistent and apply the oil everyday in order to get the best results.

  • Applying the oils first thing in the morning and at night before going to bed may offer the best results. One method to do this is using a Q-tip soaked in oil and dab the nail and nail bed.

tea tree oil nail fungus cure using tea tree oil on toe nail fungus

Applying Tea Tree Oil
to Q-tip

Applying Tea Tree Oil
to Toenail

Results may vary and the extent of fungal infection may have a large effect on how well the oils may eradicate fungal growth. Some people may not experience any reults at all and may have to resort to more powerful anti-fungal medications for relief.

Other Home Remedies for Toe Nail Fungus

While you may have success with tea tree oil and toe nail fungus, there are a number of other natural remedies for you can try. Here's a list of natural treatments that other's have had success with:

Vicks for Toe nail fungus

Apply Vicks VapoRub directly onto the toenail twice a day. Some users have reported the nail bed clears up within hours.


Spray 100% pure white vinegar onto your toenails ensuring your soaking the liquid under the nail bed. Repeat at least 2X a day. The only drawback I can see with this treatment is the vinegar smell.

Other natural treatments

If you're looking for other natural ways to fight toe nail fungus, here's a forum on natural, effective cheap cures for toe nail fungus at epinions.com.

Taking a proactive approach to your toe nail fungus will help in your treatment. The most important steps to success is be consistent in your treatments and be open to trying other methods if one type doesn't work for you.

Tea Tree Oil and Toe Nail Fungus Research References:

Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazole. Tea tree oil and toe nail fungus study. The Journal of Family Practise. 1994 Jun;38(6):601-5.

Treatment of toenail onychomycosis with 2% butenafine and 5% Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil in cream. Tropical Medicine and International Health. 1999 Apr;4(4):284-7.

Antifungal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea-tree) oil against various pathogenic organisms.Tea tree oil and toe nail fungus study. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association. 1998 Oct;88(10):489-92.

Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) against pathogenic fungi in vitro. Tea tree oil and toe nail fungus study. Skin Pharmacology. 1996;9(6):388-94.

In vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against dermatophytes and other filamentous fungi. Tea tree oil and toe nail fungus. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 2002 Aug;50(2):195-9.

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