How to Cure Thick Black Toenails

Updated April 17, 2017

Black toenail fungus infection, or onychomycosis, occurs when fungus develops beneath the toenail surface, causing toenails to become thick, brittle, dull and discoloured. If not treated, onychomycosis can cause foot odour and toenail pain. People who have had toenail injuries, athlete's foot or weak immune systems are most at risk for developing this infection. While onychomycosis can be stubborn, treatment and constant monitoring can improve the condition of toenails and slowly cure the fungus infection.

Make an appointment with a primary care physician or a podiatrist (foot specialist), who may prescribe an oral antifungal medication to help eliminate the fungus. Oral medication is given for those for moderate to severe cases of fungal infections. Oral medication will also work with any topical medication suggested or prescribed. The doctor may also recommend an antifungal nail lacquer to help eliminate and prevent future fungus.

It may be worthwhile to purchase an over-the-counter topical antifungal cream if it is not possible to see a doctor or if the beginnings of a black fungal infection are evident. Ask the pharmacist for recommendations. It may take longer to see results from an over-the-counter topical medication than an oral prescription since the dosage of active medication will not be as strong as prescription medication. If infection worsens or no improvement is seen, seek attention from a primary care physician or podiatrist.

Fill a bucket, or other container large enough to hold both feet, with two parts warm water to one part vinegar. Add a handful of epsom salt. Soak feet in the mixture for 20 to 30 minutes. Be sure to rinse and dry feet thoroughly; fungus thrives in moist areas.

Soak daily unless irritation develops; then increase the amount of water and soak only two or three times a week. The epsom salt dries the fungus, working deep in the layers of the nail. The high vinegar's high aciditycan kill the fungus as well.

This routine should be followed until the infection begins to cure. Then, lessen the number of times per week the soak is used until the infection has completely resolved.

Wash feet and toes with antibacterial soap in the morning and at night, taking care to dry thoroughly toes and nails in addition with the soaking regiment.

Keep toenails trimmed short and even. Short toenails will be easier to maintain and clean during this infection period. Avoid nail polishes since the fungus can spread to other toes through the brush. Soak clippers in rubbing alcohol to disinfect them after every use.

Avoid wearing tight socks or tight shoes, which can cause feet to sweat and trap moisture.


Always wear shoes in public showers, pools and gyms to avoid future infections. Be diligent with this regimen to remove the infection from your toenails.


Seek medical attention if you have severe pain or fungal infection does not improve.

Things You'll Need

  • Oral antifungal medication
  • Antifungal nail lacquer
  • Warm water
  • Vinegar
  • Epsom salt
  • Antibacterial soap
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About the Author

Stephanie Cai began professionally writing for clients in 2010 and freelance writing in 2008. She is currently a writer for various online publications and is knowledgeable in fields such as health and beauty, fashion, celebrities, films and video games. Cai graduated from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing.