August 3, 2010 in Features

Tincture of iodine kills skin, nail fungi

Joe And Teresa Graedon

Q. For more than 20 years, I was plagued with dry, flaky skin on the side of my nose and behind my earlobes. I went to several doctors, including dermatologists. We tried various salves, to no avail. After a while, this added up to big bucks.

I wondered if this ailment was caused by a fungus. As a chemist, I know that iodine is very, very effective on fungus and many bacteria. I applied tincture of iodine with my fingers (every two days for a week) and got cured within a week.

It’s been two months, and the spots have not returned. The cost of treatment was less than $2. I previously had success treating toenail fungus with iodine. Since I am a man, dark toenails (stained by iodine) did not bother me.

I have suggested iodine treatment to many friends, and the responses have been enthusiastic. Many have solved their nail problems after other pricey treatments were unsuccessful.

A. Iodine was discovered about 200 years ago. As a tincture, it has broad antiseptic activity. You are correct that it kills fungus.

Tincture of iodine is dark brown, and it can stain, so not everyone will want to use it on the face. Other readers have also reported success applying tincture of iodine to fungus-infected nails.

Q. My internist says I need extra vitamin D and suggested I spend more time in the sun. My dermatologist insists that I need to use a high-SPF sunscreen every day and stay out of the sun. I am feeling extremely confused and hope you have some information that can help me sort out this dilemma.

A. When specialists disagree, the patient is frequently caught in the middle. Dermatologists see a lot of skin damage and cancer caused by excess sun exposure, so it’s no wonder they want to protect patients. They recommend vitamin D supplements instead of sunshine.

Some experts think that getting vitamin D from controlled sun exposure is preferable to taking supplements. There is no risk of vitamin D toxicity this way, but it is essential to limit time in the sun. Sunscreen prevents vitamin D formation.

We are sending you our Guides to Skin Care and Vitamin D Deficiency for more information on the critical importance of vitamin D for health and safe ways to protect your skin from sun damage. Anyone who would like copies, please send $5 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped (61 cents), self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. DS-283, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027. They also can be downloaded for $2 each from our website:

Q. I’m 17 years old, and I have epilepsy. I started taking Keppra two years ago. It got my seizures under control, and I went into remission.

I recently moved to a new state, and my new doctor switched me to generic levetiracetam. My seizures got much worse, and I came out of remission.

I am currently taking a trial of Keppra XR, and I am in remission, but my doctor won’t switch me back to the name brand. So when I run out of this sample, I will most likely start having seizures again. If I can’t get my epilepsy under control, my life is a disaster.

A. We have heard from dozens of other readers who had excellent seizure control with brand name Keppra. Many complained that generic levetiracetam has not been as effective. We have submitted many of these reports to the Food and Drug Administration, but so far have heard nothing back.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. E-mail them via their Web site:

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