Toenail fungus is more common than you think. But getting rid of it isn’t easy. Here’s how my mom’s vinegar foot soak came to my rescue.
I know, I know… talking about toenail fungus is gross to say the least. But hey! Fungal infections happen. There ain’t no shame in that. The truly shameful part is covering it up with nail paint regularly so that you can wear your open-toed sandals to work. Yes, I did. But I am getting ahead of myself.
You see, I love wearing my sneakers. So much so, that they are all I wear–come summer, winter, or monsoon. After months and months of wearing my trusted Vans day in and day out, one morning I woke up to yellowish discolouration on my big toes. Admittedly, I knew it was a fungal infection. But I also knew that I had to wear my heels to my family function later in the day. So, I promptly painted my toenails red and forgot about it.
When it was time to take the nail polish off, which regrettably was a month later, the fungal infection had taken over the entire nail. Naturally, I freaked out and did what every self-respecting 30-year-old millennial woman does in a situation like this.
Ten minutes of scolding later, she told me a sure-shot solution for my toenail fungus
No medicines, no ointments. What my mum suggested was a simple soak with an ingredient that most of us already have at home: white vinegar.
She asked me to combine one cup of vinegar with two cups of water in a basin and soak my feet in it for 15 minutes–daily. The first thought that came to my mind? What a waste of time!
For the first few days, I saw absolutely no difference. The fungus was still there and all I was getting was pruned feet. I was irritated and disappointed, but my mother kept me going. “Beta, give it a few more days,” she said. “Trust me, it works!” she claimed.
Eight days later the fungus on my right toe started receding. My left toe followed suit. And within two weeks–I was fungus free.
Here’s why vinegar works
I’ve known about vinegar’s superpowers for a while now. From picking vegetables and adding to the taste of Chinese food to helping my mom get rid of stubborn grease from the kitchen tiles–I knew vinegar could do it all. But why did it make my toenail fungus disappear?
I was able to solve that mystery when I came across an enlightening research paper from 2010 published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences Review and Research.
The study claims that acetic acid, or vinegar, is a potent antifungal agent that inhibits the growth of fungi–especially when it comes to food items. If it can keep food-borne fungus at bay, it can also ward off fungal infections in the toes. In my case, rather, it successfully did.
Yes, vinegar came to my rescue—but foot hygiene is equally important
My mother being my mother didn’t let me celebrate my fungus-free toes for long. Instead, she left me with rigorous instructions to ensure I don’t invite another infection. Washing my feet after taking off my sneakers, only wearing cotton socks with my shoes, and sprinkling anti-fungal powder in all my closed-toe shoes and airing them out regularly were her recommendations.
Close to seven months later, I’m still living in my Vans and I am completely fungus free.