Many seniors require regular pedicures or trips to the podiatrist to properly care for their feet, but a few simple at-home steps can help keep their feet well maintained between appointments. Veteran caregivers share their home remedies for foot issues like fungus, dry heels and thick toenails.

Home Remedies for Senior Foot Problems

“Take care of your feet and your loved one’s feet. Buy some Epsom salt and soak them, if nothing else. It feels so good and softens the toenails a little.” –123456Gaylynn

“I live in central Florida, where it is hot and humid ALL YEAR LONG. About five years ago, I got fungus under one of my big toenails! The nail grew very thick and was an ugly yellow color. I saw a doctor and was told that the medications for toenail fungus are so expensive that insurance will not pay unless there is some sort of unusual, dire health consequence. Recently, a friend told me that rubbing Vick’s VapoRub salve on the toe would get rid of it. I didn’t really believe her, but I started massaging the end of my toe, the cuticle and the toenail with Vick’s every morning when I got out of the shower. It’s been a couple of months now and the condition has improved by at least 50 percent or more. Looks MUCH better. Mine was maybe a milder case of fungus, but I’m sure glad I found out about this treatment. Because of the results I have seen so far, I think if I keep using it, then eventually my toe will be its old self again!” –graceterry

“Kerasal ointment (around $10 at the drug store) works well on heels that don’t respond to anything else. If you use it nightly, within a week your heels will be better. I don’t like the greasy feel, so don’t use it as often as I should, but regular lotions and creams do nothing for my dry heels.” –imaamy

“My husband can’t reach his feet to scrub them, and he has problems with gross flaky skin. Every week I have to soak his feet in soapy water and then gently scrub the old, flaky skin off with a wash cloth. A net poof or loofa sponge would be a good choice, too. His feet look so much better, and I don’t mind scrubbing his feet because then I don’t have to look at the grossness all week. If your loved one has cracked heels, there are several really good ointments for that. My favorite is the AVON heel and elbow cream with shea butter. Another good one is Bag Balm. Use these at bedtime and have your loved one wear socks to keep the oil off the sheets.” –twotonne

“My dad would get sores on his feet, so I would soak them in Epsom salt, let dry and then apply diabetic lotion. I would wrap his feet in a towel and then place them on a heating pad. He never complained about his feet being cold, and the sores healed very fast. It even cured the discoloration in some of his toes. A foot massage frequently helped blood circulation and brought comfort from the diabetic pain.” –Caregiverbob

“I took care of my mother-in-law’s hygiene, including her toenails. She had the thickest and longest ones I’ve ever seen. She hated having her toes done because she had sensitive, ticklish feet. I decided to try to make it a ‘treat’ for her, kind of like going to the spa. When they were all cleaned up, I would lay out a good handful of different nail polishes and have her choose which she’d like to have her toes painted with. She loved it so much that it was easy to get her into a routine. All I know is if you give your elders some sense of control and dignity, they’re a lot more cooperative. That’s all they really want anyway.” –Theresa911

“I soak my mother-in-law’s feet in warm water with Epsom salt for about 20 minutes and wash her feet gently with a wash cloth. I blot them dry and gently, toe by toe, I remove buildup from beneath each nail and then trim them with clippers. She had one big toenail that looked like it was going to fall off, but as I cleared all the buildup, I was able to cut the nail way back. After I finish all nails on both feet, I massage Neosporin cream on her toes and feet. Her feet look amazing, and she feels so good! I continue watching her foot health and mark my calendar to remind me to do this regularly.” –Katy315

“Remember, soaking their feet first is not just to clean the feet. It also softens the nails and makes cutting and filing easier. Even when doing my own feet, I always do them right after a bath or shower. It makes the whole process easier and the skin smoother. As a retired cosmetologist, I’ve done many pedicures.” –Sandra93

“Coconut oil also works on fungal infections. I know several people who have used it successfully.” –golden23

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“There is rarely a need to actually cut a senior’s toenails. I took care of my Mom’s THICK toenails for 8 years. All you do is take an emery board and very gently file them down. I filed in the downward direction, from the top of the toe down. Very easy. You can do it when they are sleeping or with music on. Actually, it’s barely noticeable. My mom would pull her foot away sometimes, but it worked fine. She used to have a podiatrist at her adult day care center do it for $40, and they would only cut straight across, leaving them very sharp. I thought it was pretty useless. Get some different strength files from a beauty supply store. It works fine.” –Reverseroles

“I’m only 54 and have had thick toenails for at least the last 10 years. I practice good hygiene and trim my nails. My sister has the same problem, and her doctor told her it is a fungal infection and to use tea tree oil on her toenails twice a day. The prescription for the fungus can damage the liver, so her doctor won’t prescribe it. Trim the nails back as far as you can, then apply the oil twice a day for six months. My sis says it has improved but not been cured, so it may take longer than six months. I am going to try it, too.” –anonymous99039

“I always maintained my mother’s toenails. A small set of electronic snips does a wonderful job. Ingrown nails identify themselves by causing the flesh beside them to be bright pink from inflammation. Mom was diabetic and proper foot care was very important, so I took it seriously.” –captain