Complete Guide to Using Tea Tree Oil on Toe Nail Fungus

Can you use tea tree oil to treat uncomplicated toe nail fungus?

Research shows that tea tree oil contains active ingredients with anti-fungal properties that may reduce and eliminate yellowing and crusty nail beds without side effects.

antifungal lamisil box beside blister pack of lamisil pills

Lamisil Pills

Toe nail fungus is a very common health condition that can be very frustrating to treat. Common treatments may include powerful anti-fungal 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 anti-fungal drugs is the high cost.

 There’s also the risk of side effects such as diarrhea, rashes and abdominal pain. And not only that, It may also take weeks for the infected nails to grow out before you begin to see any positive changes in how your toe nails look.

However, there are natural alternatives to costly medications that may offer some relief.

Tea Tree Oil has 80% Cure Rate on Toe Nail Fungus:

San Francisco, USA – A study published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine and International Health found that tea tree oil was more effective that a commonly prescribed anti-fungal drug at eliminating toe nail fungus.

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 who had toe nail fungus for the last 6 – 36 months were split into 2 groups. One group received a tea tree oil and butenafine cream lotion and the other group received a placebo to apply to their infected toenails. The treatments lasted for 16 weeks.

Researchers found that the patients using tea tree oils experienced an 80% cure rate. And not only that, during a follow-up examination they found the fungus didn’t return in the same group.

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

Tea Tree Oil Found to be 64% More Effective than Anti-Fungal Drugs:

New York – In this study, researchers compared 100% tea tree oil against 1% Clotrimazole (a commonly prescribed anti-fungal drug) to see which was more effective at treating fungal infections.

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

The scientist took lab cultures of the toe nail fungus at the start of the study and also throughout the study. The patients complete a questionnaire for their own assessment of the treatment at 3 months and then at the end of the study.

Researchers found tea tree oils had an 18% cure rate, which turned out to be almost 64% more than effective than the 1% clotrimazole group.

Some members of the group using 1% clotrimazole experienced itching, burning and irritation, whereas the tea tree oil group experienced less side effects overall.

How to Apply Tea Tree Oil to Your Toenails

The 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 will have to wait for your toe nails to grow out to see any results. I noticed an immediate decrease in yellowing after applying tea tree oil, but my 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 improve the response. One method is using a Q-tip soaked in oil and dab the nail and nail bed.

applying tea tree oil to Q-tip for toenail fungusapplying Q-tip with tea tree oil to big toe with toenail fungus

Applying Tea Tree Oil
to Q-tip

Applying Tea Tree Oil
to Toenail

Your actual results may vary and the severity of the toenail fungus will also probably effect your actual response to the tea tree oil. Unfortunately, some people may not experience any results and may have to resort to more powerful anti-fungal medications for relief.

More 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.

Oil of Oregano

Oil of Oregano is another plant oil that has anti-fungal properties. The oil is very strong so you could try mixing the oil with a carrier oil to dilute it and then apply a few drops to your infected toenails. See my webpage on Using Oil of Oregano on Toenail Fungus for my easy to follow steps.

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.

Additional Research References:

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

Antifungal activity of the essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia against pathogenic fungi in vitro. Skin Pharmacology. 1996;9(6):388-94.

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


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