Foot fungus is a common complaint in the United States. And according to many sources, Listerine for toenail fungus is an effective treatment.
Although there is insufficient scientific proof to support these claims, there is a substantial amount of anecdotal evidence. The internet is awash with publications that state Listerine can get rid of toenail fungus. Of course, the claim could just be an urban myth.
Furthermore, if Listerine does work, the effectiveness will likely depend significantly on the severity of the fungal infection. You’re more likely to get results if your fungal infection is mild. Therefore, it may work for some people, but not for others.
This guide takes a deep dive into whether Listerine works and questions whether there is any validity to the claims. We also look at how to apply Listerine as a treatment for toenail fungus and the effects it could have to combat fungus.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Are People Using Listerine for Toenail Fungus?
- 1.1 What is Listerine?
- 1.2 Does Listerine Work for Toenail Fungus?
- 1.3 What Are The Ingredients In Listerine That Treat Toe Fungus?
- 1.4 Are There Any Side Effects?
- 1.5 What Are the Pros And Cons?
- 1.6 How to Use Listerine to Treat Foot Fungus
- 1.7 How Long Will It Take for Toenail Fungus to Heal?
- 1.8 How Do You Get Better Results?
- 1.9 Listerine for Athlete’s Foot
- 1.10 Is Listerine Foot Soak Okay for Diabetes?
- 1.11 Read Our Latest Posts:
Why Are People Using Listerine for Toenail Fungus?
If reports are to be believed, there are dozens of treatments that can cure toenail fungus. However, not all treatments work for everyone, and the severity of the fungal infection will determine the type of treatment that you should use.
The extent of toe fungus varies depending on the length of time the infection has been left untreated. Without preventative action, fungus continues to grow and worsens over time. When fungi take root, it deepens in the skin.
- Important: Medically known as onychomycosis, fungal nail infections can be a challenge to treat. Statistics from UCLA Health show that conventional medicine used to treat foot-related fungal infections are only successful “up to” 70 percent of the time.
Furthermore, the standard prescription medications can have unpleasant side-effects. Patients that have been treated with pharmaceutical drugs have suffered from complications such as abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, and yellowing of the eyes or skin.
Prescription medications have also been linked with more severe side-effects such as heart conditions, kidney damage, and liver disease. If you suffer from immunodeficiency disorders, pharmaceutical drugs are not recommended at all.
It is stories like this that make people turn to home remedies, such as Listerine. After all, what harm is there in trying non-conventional medicines that contain natural ingredients and are known to treat fungal infections.
Society is beginning to realize the inadequacy of pharmaceutical drugs. Patients in the U.S. are also disturbed at the alarming rate doctors to try and push pills on to patients. Subsequently, more people are turning to holistic treatments and home remedies.
Alternative medicine has been used for thousands of years and continues to be used in less developed countries. Natural medicine is still prevalent in these countries because it often works.
- Fact: As more information surfaces about the body’s natural ability to heal, more people in the U.S. are turning to alternative treatments. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 38% of US adults (about 4 in 10), are using complementary alternative medicines.
About five percent of Americans just use alternative treatments. This suggests people are gradually turning their back on conventional medicines.
One of the home remedies that is getting a lot of airtime, and positive feedback through online channels, is Listerine.
Listerine is often quoted as a home remedy for multiple ailments and uses – including treating fungicides. To date, however, no scientific studies have been performed to confirm the claims are true.
What is Listerine?
Listerine is a brand of antiseptic mouthwash, produced by Johnson & Johnson and named after the father of modern antiseptics, Joseph Lister. As a mouthwash, Listerine is a clinically proven cure for halitosis and dental plaque.
Listerine gained a reputation as a household brand after the solution was awarded the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. It was the first ever over-the-counter solution to receive such a distinction.
Although the company does NOT promote Listerine as a treatment for foot fungus, plenty of other people do. The solution contains anti-fungal properties that are known to get rid of dry, dead skin. Subsequently, Listerine foot soaks have become all the rage.
Does Listerine Work for Toenail Fungus?
There is no scientific or clinical evidence to confirm that Listerine works for toenail fungus. The only evidence we have to go on is purely anecdotal. However, there is a case to support that Listerine will work – and there are plenty of advocates herald the solution as an effective treatment.
- Important: Because of the lack of medical testing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not include Listerine on their list of effective treatments for fungal toenail infections. It is only listed as a suggested treatment for halitosis due to its antiseptic properties.
Furthermore, the FDA has classified Listerine as a Class 1 product. This means the company cannot claim it treats conditions that it doesn’t. Johnson & Johnson, the parent company that makes Listerine, does not brand their product as a treatment for fungal infections.
The reason for that, however, could be because of the pressure they would receive from Big Pharma. If Listerine is a low-cost, effective anti-fungal cure, the pharmaceutical industry will lose millions of dollars in sales.
Leaning the other way, multiple publications claim Listerine has become a common ingredient for “foot soaks.” However, these same publications promote home remedies and alternative medicines so also have a “self” interest.
What we do know is that Listerine contains several active ingredients that are used in other fungal treatments. Therefore, it stands to reason that Listerine has the potential to kill fungi and prevent it from spreading to other areas of your foot.
When feet are soaked in water laced with Listerine, the active ingredients should realistically penetrate the epidermis of the skin. This dries out the dead cells which can then be easily brushed away.
Furthermore, the active ingredients in Listerine have rejuvenating properties that help to boost the immune system. The natural ingredients absorb into the skin and aid blood circulation which is needed to help fight fungal infections.
What Are The Ingredients In Listerine That Treat Toe Fungus?
Listerine has four vital, active ingredients that are used as disinfecting agents to treat fungal infections:
- Methyl salicylate
Together with the antiseptic properties, the solution also contains ethanol which binds the essential oils together, so they do not separate in the bottle. The combination is proven to kill germs that lead to tooth decay and bad breath.
However, while the active parts of the solution are known to be effective against fungal infections, the manufacturer markets Listerine solely as a mouthwash. They do not claim there is any connection between the product and toenail fungus.
As previously stated, there could be other factors why Johnson & Johnson don’t market Listerine as a treatment for fungus. They would also have to conduct significant testing. Until Listerine is confirmed as an effective treatment, we can only base the assumption on the active ingredients that are known to fight fungal infections.
Thymol is extracted from the herb, Thyme. Rich in vitamins A and C, together with iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese, thymol absorbs into the skin and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that boosts blood circulation and immunity.
Subsequently, thymol is an active agent that can fight fungicide and has been used to treat fungal skin infections for thousands of years. Known for its ability to kill fungus, thymol’s healing properties inhibit the growth of dermatophytes, the aerobic fungi that cause onychomycosis.
Eucalyptol is an essential oil that comes from the eucalyptus leaf. Indigenous to Australia, it was used by the Aborigines to treat a wide range of illnesses including fungus and other skin complaints.
The eucalyptus leaf has numerous antimicrobial properties including antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. The oil is therefore known to boost the immune system and enhance blood circulation which helps to fight off a fungus.
The medicinal properties of methyl salicylate are far ranging. Subsequently, the organic acid is used in multiple compounds that are used to treat a large variety of ailments. One of its distinguishing qualities is the ability to shed dead skin cells which allows new, healthy cells to grow in their place.
Methyl salicylate also has non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents with analgesic properties. The anti-fungal properties of salicylic acid are often used in treatments designed to eliminate toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, and various other skin infections.
The use of menthol for medicinal purposes can be traced back as far as ancient Egypt. Extracted from the mint plant, menthol is an organic agent that has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that are an effective agent against fungal infections.
Menthol penetrated into the skin and exudes a cool, soothing effect which acts as an anti-irritant. It also has stimulating effects which trigger the cold receptors in the skin. This invites blood to flow to areas of the body where the solution is applied and helps to fight infections.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Listerine is well-known as a safe solution, otherwise, people would not put it in their mouth. Furthermore, the FDA categorizes Listerine as a Class 1 medicinal device which means there is a low risk of developing complications after use. Subsequently, side effects are rare.
When used as a foot soak, the most common side effect is the solution may turn your skin light blue or green, depending on the flavor and color. To avoid skin coloration, do not soak your feet for too long. The recommended dose is an hour at most.
- Important: Listerine contains alcohol which dries out the skin. Whereas this is part of the healing process to kill fungus and clean off dead skin cells, it could cause the skin to crack in some patients, thus it could be quite painful.
Having said that, Listerine foot soaks may not be for everyone. Some users reported a mild irritation after use. If you have sensitive skin, consider testing the solution on a small patch of your foot before going all-in with a full foot soak.
What Are the Pros And Cons?
Reports show Listerine has pros and cons as a treatment for yellow toenail fungus. People that have tried Listerine, or commentated on the solution as an anti-fungal treatment cite the following advantages and disadvantages:
- Readily available over-the-counter
- Inexpensive treatment compared to conventional methods
- Easy to apply
- Convenient and safe to use
- Positive reports from multiple sources
- Little to no side effects
- There is no scientific evidence that supports Listerine solution is an effective agent against toenail fungus
- Can take a long time to get results. The longer you leave it untreated, the longer it takes to heal (regardless of the treatment you use)
- Potential to cause the skin to crack in some patients
- The solution can cause discoloration of the skin with continued use
- Exposing unaffected nails can cause the infection to spread to unaffected areas
How to Use Listerine to Treat Foot Fungus
The infamous “Listerine foot soak” is easy to prepare. However, users should be careful not to soak the whole foot as the infection can spread to other areas. There is also some discrepancy with regards how often you should soak your feet in the solution.
Some sources suggest using Listerine twice a day for moderate and severe symptoms. However, this increases the chances of causing discoloration of the skin. While the effect is purely cosmetic, you probably don’t want to flag your toenail fungus up by walking around with blue/green feet.
Furthermore, there is a suggestion that Listerine is only effective for treating toenail fungus in the early stages. The ingredients act as a stalling agent that prevents the fungicide from growing. It also kills dead skin cells, not the fungus.
Over-using Listerine could also crack your skin because of the alcohol content. We, therefore, recommend taking a Listerine foot soak no more than two or three times a week. You will probably need to continue the following treatment for at least six months.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:
- Fill a bowl with warm water and give the affected area a thorough wash
- Add a good dose of Listerine. The recommended solution is 50% water, 50% Listerine
- Soak your feet for 30-60 minutes
- If you don’t like the water to go cold, keep adding hot water. However, bear in mind this also weakens the solution, and adding more Listerine makes an otherwise cost-effective treatment more expensive
- At the end of your foot soak, use a soft-bristled nail brush to remove dead skin cells from affected areas
- Dry your feet well
If you only have toenail fungus, there is a possibility the fungal infection may spread to other areas of your feet. Another method of applying Listerine treatment is to daub the solution on cotton wool and clean your toes that way. If you choose to use this method, apply the solution twice a day after washing your feet.
For people with busy lifestyles, it has been suggested that wearing rubber socks filled with Listerine is an effective way of soaking your feet. However, this increases the risk of causing your skin to dry and crack.
How Long Will It Take for Toenail Fungus to Heal?
Treat toenail fungal infections with Listerine for at LEAST six months. The infection will take longer if the condition is more severe.
The typical healing period for toenail fungus is 6-18 months depending on the severity of the infection. The longer fungal infections are left untreated, the longer they take to heal. Whichever cure(s) you choose to heal foot fungal infections, perseverance is needed.
You will be able to accelerate the healing process by using specially formulated anti-fungal creams in combination with Listerine. Creams will also help to rehydrate the skin after soaking them in alcohol. This prevents, or at the very least, reduce the risk of cracking dry skin.
How Do You Get Better Results?
Treating fungal infections involves killing dead cells that harbor fungicide so that healthy skin can grow in its place. If the infection is embedded in the nail, you need to stop the growth of the fungus and wait for the toenail to grow out.
Listerine is effective at killing bacteria, fungus, and drying our skin. You will speed up recovery and get better results by using a soft-bristled brush to clear away the dead skin cells.
You should also facilitate treatments by taking good care of your feet. Keep your toenails trimmed so the solution can get to fungus embedded underneath the nail. You should also clean out the debris from under your toenails.
Fungal infections thrive in dark, damp environments. Therefore, try to keep your feet free from moisture and out of the dark. Wearing open-toed shoes will help. The best solution, however, is to wear anti-fungal socks that soak up perspiration and help keep the skin cool.
It has also been suggested that mixing apple cider vinegar in with the Listerine solution delivers faster results. Again this is unsubstantiated by clinical testing, but vinegar is known to contain acidic properties which are effective at keeping fungal infections at bay.
Listerine and Peroxide for Toe Fungus
Another suggested method is to combine Listerine with hydrogen peroxide to treat toenail fungus. Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant for cuts and wounds but is also known to kill toenail fungus.
It is suggested that applying hydrogen peroxide to a Listerine foot soak will yield faster results. Whilst the hot water softens the skin and nails, the active ingredients in Listerine and peroxide work at inhibiting the growth of fungus and stimulating blood flow.
Listerine for Athlete’s Foot
Onychomycosis, the infection that causes toenail fungus, is also the root cause of athlete’s foot. Listerine foot soaks, therefore, can also be used to treat the condition.
Athlete’s foot grows in between toes and the bottom of the foot and can be extremely itchy and irritating. The active ingredients of Listerine act as an anti-irritant which cools the skin and stops the itching sensations.
When left to grow, athlete’s foot causes the skin to peel and can cause discomfort. Bathing your feet in a Listerine foot soak several times a week helps to prevent the growth of onychomycosis and provide some relief to your skin.
However, using Listerine alone will probably not be an effective treatment to cure athlete’s foot.
You should use an anti-fungal cream and take all the necessary precautions to prevent the fungus from spreading:
- Wear anti-fungal socks.
- Don’t wear shoes without socks.
- Dry your feet thoroughly after bathing.
- Avoid walking barefoot in public spaces that harbor fungi such as public changing rooms and swimming baths.
- Allow your feet to breath.
- Use an antiperspirant spray or antifungal powder to keep your feet dry.
Is Listerine Foot Soak Okay for Diabetes?
It is NOT recommended for diabetic patients to adopt the Listerine foot soak method. Problems with feet in people that suffer from immunodeficiency can be due to other causes.
- Important: If you have diabetes, the best course of action is to consult your doctor for a diagnosis before trying home remedies for a condition you may not have.
There are multiple factors that may contribute to toenail fungal infections, and there is no one treatment that works for everybody. While Listerine is lauded as an effective treatment for onychomycosis, results are inconclusive.
Having said that, home remedies are known to be a cost-effective alternative to prescription drugs and expensive creams that, in fairness, may not work for everyone either.
Fungal infections are irritating but they are not harmful. If you think you are showing signs of an early onset of toenail fungus, there is certainly no harm in trying a Listerine foot soak.