Thick toenails can be hard to manage and even painful. Whether it’s due to a skin condition (like eczema or psoriasis), a fungus, or an injury, you can treat this issue with simple home remedies. Save money and avoid the side effects that can result from costly prescription meds—all you need are some readily available household products.

First, determine the cause of your thick toenails. Raised reddish spots and flaking skin could mean psoriasis, or itchy, dry skin with no flaking indicates eczema. If either of these could be the root of the problem, get treatment for these conditions first. If you’re all clear on skin issues, look for white patches, yellow or brownish discoloration, and separation between the toenail and nail bed—these are all signs of fungus.

Things You'll Need

Vapor Rub

According to Mayo Clinic, this treatment works for some individuals but recommends you talk to your doctor beforehand.

Use toenail clippers to cut your nails as short and as close to the skin as possible.

Use an emery board or nail file to file your toenails down as much as is comfortable.

Apply vapor rub to toenails twice a day.

Epsom Salts

Clip your toenails as short and as close to the skin as possible.

File your toenails down as much as is comfortable.

Soak your feet in Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, two to three times a day for 30 minutes at a time. Dr. Ray Sahelian recommends using very hot water and putting Epsom salt directly on the affected nails and surrounding area.

White Vinegar

Vinegar can reduce the growth of certain bacteria.

Trim your nails short and close to the skin.

File your nails down as much as is comfortable.

Apply white vinegar directly to your affected toenails or soak your feet in one part vinegar to two parts warm water, two to three times a day.

If you experience any skin irritation, reduce the amount of vinegar in your soak, or treat less frequently until the irritation clears up.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has natural antifungal properties.

Clip affected toenails as close to the skin as possible.

File the affected toenails down as much as you can.

Add a drop of tea tree oil to the tip of a cotton swab and dilute with a couple drops of water. Apply onto your toenail, the skin around it, and under the tip of the nail twice a day.


  • Keep your toenails short.
  • Try one home remedy at a time, and keep track of the results and any reactions.
  • Be consistent in your treatment and give new remedies time to work before moving on to another.
  • Don’t wear restrictive shoes and socks; change your socks often.
  • If you get athlete’s foot, treat it immediately—it can spread to the nails.
  • Fungus likes moisture, so fully dry your feet, toes, and toenails whenever they get wet.
  • Fungus can thrive in dark environments, so go barefoot or wear sandals as often as possible.
  • Never go barefoot in public places.
  • Don’t paint your nails—nail polish can encourage the growth of toenail fungus.
  • Wash your hands after touching infected nails to prevent spreading fungus to fingernails.