Podiatrist Questions Athlete's Foot

Is Vick's really a treatment for athlete's foot?

I'm pretty active in sports, and I tend to get athlete's foot because of it. Normally I'd go to the doctor for it and get anti-fungal medications. But I think I should really start treating it at home, since I can usually tell when I have it. I heard that Vick's vapor rub actually can help athlete's foot. I know Vick's works well with coughs, but can it also treat athlete's foot? Are there any other home remedies I should use?

20 Answers

Vick’s vapor rub does not treat athletes foot. For many years people have applied it to fungal toenails. I believe the menthol component thins out the nail, nail begins to peel in layers providing a better appearance. Athletes foot is a result of fungus in the skin so in order to get rid of it, you’ll need an anti fungal cream that is fungicidal (kills fungus) which can be bought or prescribed.

I would use Lamisil or Lotrimin OTC instead.

Dr. Lui
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Thank you for your question. Vicks vapor rub has been used for the treatment of onychomycosis. You are not going to find a definitive study that claims that it will cure toenail fungus, but I have patients that use it on their mycotic nails. Tinea pedis, or athletes foot, is typically treated with some form of a topical anti-fungal. The most common OTC I see is terbinafine and clotrimazole creams. I do not have any anecdotal evidence that suggest vicks vapor rub kills foot fungus. I recommend trying tea tree oil if you are looking for something homeopathic. Also, I tell all my patients to spray their shoes with lysol once a week to keep the fungus count down in their shoe gear.
Best of luck and thank you for your question.
Yes, Vick’s will help. My suggestion is to wear white socks and get orthotics to help avoid allergy to regular foot gear. Anti-fungal cream or powder will help. If the viral infections caused and spread because of the nail fungus, then treat it with Penlac tincture. If the foot has itching or dry skin, then use lotrimin day. If you decided to use Vick’s, then use it only on dry feet and avoid socks for twenty minute to let it absorb.
There are many home remedies that people have passed down from generation to the next, but it is difficult to point you to one that works due to lack of studies. Generally, you can resolve athletes foot infections with use of topical antifungals and proper foot hygiene. You might also want to incorporate antifungal powder to your sports shoes.
The active ingredients in Vicks Vapor Rub are camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. Camphor oil has been shown to demonstrate fungal inhibition compared to other oils and as such has been recommended as a home remedy as an antifungal. With that said, its inhibition of fungi has been demonstrated in species which are not typical to those that produce the
common athlete's foot or nail fungus. Further, it is formulated as an ointment based product which occludes and moistens skin which is more hospitable for fungal growth. There are studies demonstrating improvement in nail fungus when used for up to 48 weeks applied several times a day to affected nails. With all of this in mind, there are many readily available
over-the-counter antifungals available that specifically address those organisms that commonly produce athlete's foot, and I would encourage their use over Vicks.
I have recommended Vicks as an inexpensive treatment for treating and preventing athlete's foot and fungal toenails with good results. If it doesn't work, then oral medications are usually needed.
Vick's vapor rub does have some anti-fungal properties. I find it more commonly used for toenail fungus. Some people also soak feet in cornmeal sometimes can help with fungus as well.

Jonathan M. Kletz, DPM
I have never heard of using Vicks for Athletes foot. Although some people use it on dystrophic nails as it softens them, it is not effective for either condition, it will just decrease the symptoms temporarily and soften the nail.
No it isn’t. People were using Vick’s at one time to try to break down thick fungal nails. Athletes foot like fungal nails is actually a fungal infection and needs to be treated with anti fungal medication. Vick’s will likely make athletes foot worse due to the additional moisture and may also be painful due to the menthol entering cracked skin.
Thank you for the questions,

Actually, Vicks does not really treat "athletes foot." If it is a recurrent problem you can buy some over-the-counter topical anti-fungus medication – Lotrimin. If you decide to return to a physician I would suggest possibly a dermatologist because sometimes this comes from excessive sweating and there are other treatments that will help with that. Another treatment is using the topical Aveeno, cortisone cream. This is also an over-the-counter product with no prescription necessary.

Dr. Mark Gorman
No. It's okay to soften fungal nails and slow down the spread. OTC antifungal or Nizoral shampoo daily washing works well.
There is no clinical evidence of it working, but people do report it helping. I would recommend a topical and a shoe cleanse. May need to consider something for your skin pH. Your Podiatrist should be able to help. I like a product called Claris.

Ahmad Farah, DPM
NO!!!! Dry your feet well, use a hair dryer if necessary on cool. Use semi-synthetic socks, not 100% cotton. Use Zeasorb- AF foot powder daily. If you still have issues, it may be caused by a bacteria, not a fungus called erythrasma and you'll need to get a prescription. Vicks has been shown effective for toenail fungus, not scientifically, however.
The active ingredients in Vicks are camphor (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic), eucalyptus oil (a cough suppressant) and menthol (a cough suppressant and topical analgesic). Camphor and eucalyptus are know to kill fungus (the cause of athlete's foot) or prevent their growth.
I do not know if Vick's works. I know some doctors will say use it for fungal nails. I would use an antifungal cream or something to help. They sell those over the counter. You may always need something prescribed.
There are no studies to show that Vick's is effective or ineffective for treating fungal infections. I suggest speaking with your doctor about maintenance treatment options for skin fungal infections, including using an anti-fungal spray in your shoes to minimize spreading of the infection.
As far as I have read, Vick’s does not treat fungal infections. If there is a fungal infection in the toenails, sometimes I recommend Vick’s, not to treat the infection but to treat the symptoms, vicks allows the nails to soften and decrease pain. If you have chronic athletes foot but don’t want to run to the doctors every time, there are several over the counter options for athletes foot that are pretty affordable.
The key to treating athlete's foot is to make a better effort to keep your feet dry. I recommend powder, anything with corn starch that will help absorb moisture. I would recommend discussing other options with your foot and ankle specialist (podiatrist)
Vick's is technically not an anti-fungal, and I would not recommend using it for athlete's foot. I have often heard of people trying to use Vick's for toenail fungus, and there are some anecdotes of it helping, but no actual evidence. A prescription or over the counter anti-fungal twice a day is what I would really recommend. Tea Tree oil does have some actual anti-fungal properties. You could try Tea Tree Oil, but I believe an actual medication is far superior of a treatment