This is a tacky topic. Sorry. BUT…it really is so amazing, I’ve just gotta tell you about it. According to Wonder-Dermatologist, if you don’t need to know about this now, sooner or later you will.
Here’s the deal: It turns out that as you age, your immune system ages (not surprisingly). And as your immune system ages, its ability to beat back the normal yeasties and other fungus critters that occur naturally around us tends to…well…fade. Hence — Gawd Help Us! — toenail fungus!
So a few weeks ago, I’m at the dermatologist’s office forking over some taxpayer dollars to be told (as usual) that I don’t have malignant melanoma, so while I have him trapped in the examining room, I ask him about the nails that are lifting off both toes, “Fungus,” he opines.
Then he says the drug they give you to beat back toenail fungus can make you passing sick, and he doesn’t recommend it. BUT, he has an alternative. He suggests
…hang onto your hat…
I give him The Look.
He stands his ground and says that there’s evidence that the aromatics in Vick’s are mildly fungicidal, and that if you use it often enough and long enough, it will beat back nail fungus and keep it beaten back.
Suspecting he’s been smoking some of the ingredients, I come home and look it up in the Hypchondriac’s Treasure Chest; to wit, the Internet. Of course, the usual LiveStrong woo-woo is on the float. But lo!! I do find a study, one that appears to be a real study, published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. It’s a very small study — that is not good — but it does hint at the possibility of positive results.
The researchers followed a group of 18 participants over periods of 4, 8, 12, 24, 36, and 48 weeks, during which subjects were asked to treat affected nails with Vick’s VapoRub and periodically self-report the results on a 5-point Likert scale. Cutting to the chase: about a third of them — five patients — experienced a “cure” in that the fungal microbes were no longer detectable after treatment. (Several fungi can cause nail disorders; one is a common yeast infection and another is also very much in our environment — these two and only these two were found to have been eradicated by the end of the study.) Ten had a partial improvement, and three showed no improvement.
Yet — here’s the weird part — when asked to assess the results subjectively, all 18 participants “rated their satisfaction with the nail appearance at the end of the study as ‘satisfied’ (n = 9) or ‘very satisfied’ (n = 9).”
Okayyy….this looks like a “nothing ventured nothing gained” affair. The dermatologist said that if it worked, keeping the fungi at bay would require applying the stuff for the rest of my life. But why, I ask myself, not?
Meanwhile, I also learn that miconazole is sometimes prescribed for nail infections. Well, hell. Miconazole is available over the counter — gents, you can find it in the feminine products department of any grocery store or drugstore. It’s used to treat vaginal yeast infections. Just pretend you’re buying it for the wife.
If one’s good, two must be better, I figure.
So I buy a course of miconazole treatment — 3 vaginal suppository tubes of 3% cream plus a small tube of 2% cream for external use — plus a little jar of Vick’s VapoRub. Over at Michael’s, I pick up the cheapest small, stiff oil-paint brush I can find: this is ideal for applying said chemicals.
One suppository tube of miconazole lasts for a couple of weeks: dab a small amount of it under the top of your nails, around the sides, and along the cuticles. Then do the same with the VaporRub.
The VapoRub does, it is true, stink to high heaven when you apply it. However, the odor quickly dissipates. I’ve learned to cover my feet with ankle socks for an hour or so. After that, the stuff has soaked in and the smell is gone.
But here’s the thing:
After six weeks, it’s as the day to the night!
The nails are certainly no worse. If anything, they’re better. But the rhino hide that had grown around the nails? GONE.
After six weeks of applying a small amount of miconazole and a generous amount of Vick’s twice a day (morning and evening), the tough, calloused skin around the nails — especially around the worst affected ones — has softened so effectively it now looks normal. The result is that even if a clinical cure is not accomplished, the feet look so much better cosmetically that one wants to do a Dance to Spring!
VapoRub is your basic petroleum jelly with some aromatic chemicals mixed in. So it’s prob’ly not surprising that it would moisturize and soften damaged, toughened hide on your feet.
As for the nails: it will take quite a long time for them to grow out, of course. So I think no decision can be made about a “cure” (or whatever) for several months — the term of the study was 48 weeks. I’d guess that’s about when one can risk an assessment as to whether this works or not.
But in the meantime, I’d say it’s very much worth a try. In the present case, the nails themselves already look better, and the skin around them appears to have returned to normal.
And remember: I am not a doctor. No part of this post constitutes medical advice. Talk to a real medical doctor before applying or swallowing drugs, quack nostrums, or experimental treatments.