If you regularly experience sweaty feet, athlete’s foot could be a problem for you. The good news is that natural remedies such as essential oils are a cost-effective way to treat a toe fungus. They add a nice-smelling fragrance and healthy look too!
Medically known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a common problem in the United States. The fungi are most active in warm, moist, and dark environments like shoes, sneakers and public leisure centers, so it is pretty easy to pick up.
Fungal skin infections are not threatening but can be very irritable. Extreme athlete’s foot can also be painful. Typical symptoms include itching, burning and the appearance of nasty red blotches on the surface of the skin.
Doctors recommend that patients should treat athlete’s foot in the early stages. If it is allowed to flourish, fungal skin infections can disrupt your quality of life and affect your self-confidence.
If you catch the infection sufficiently early, the condition will clear in a week or two. Most infections clear up within four weeks, but healing times depend on how long you’ve waited before commending a treatment plan.
Treatments, such as essential oils, can clear up fungal infections naturally. They contain active ingredients that have anti-fungal and antimicrobial qualities that are proven to inhibit the growth of fungus.
In this guide, we provide what you need to know about athlete’s foot, and how to treat tinea pedis with essential oils.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Essential Oils for the Treatment of Athlete’s Foot
- 1.1 What Are the Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot?
- 1.2 Which Essential Oils Help with Athlete’s Foot?
- 1.3 Side Effects of Essential Oils
- 1.4 How Long Do Essential Oil Treatments Take to Work?
- 1.5 Will My Athlete’s Foot Go Away Permanently?
- 1.6 Do Natural Remedies Work?
- 1.7 Athlete’s Foot Prevention Tips
- 1.8 Read Our Latest Posts:
Essential Oils for the Treatment of Athlete’s Foot
Essential oils have anti-fungal properties that have been used to treat fungal skin infections for over five thousand years. Today, they are in everyday use as both a cure and a supplement to fungal medical care treatments.
So, if you do suffer from athlete’s foot, why not give essential oils a try first? Before you tear off to the shops, however, it is prudent to learn how to make the best use of these treatments. You also need to know which types you should buy.
Before we move on to essential oils, let’s examine athlete’s foot. Identify whether you have athlete’s foot so you can monitor the progress of treatment.
What Are the Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot is not restricted to athlete’s, despite its name. It is a common skin complaint that occurs on the foot and is most prevalent among people who have sweaty feet.
Tinea is highly contagious and can also be picked up at public spaces that are an ideal breeding ground for fungus. Shared changing rooms, swimming pools, gyms, spas, and saunas are all locations where the fungus is lurking.
If you work-out, use public facilities or wear shoes and socks that make your feet perspire, you are at risk of contracting tinea pedis. You should, therefore, check your feet for common symptoms of athlete’s foot.
The tell-tale signs include:
- Scaly red rash
- Stinging and burning
- Skin peeling between the toes
- Blisters or ulcers
- Dryness and scaling
What Is Ringworm of the Foot?
Although ringworm of the foot may sound like it is caused by a worm or parasite, this is not the case. The condition is widespread, and you have no reason to feel squeamish about having it.
Ringworm affects the skin and appears in several areas of the body. The feet, hands, and thighs are most susceptible. These types of fungal infections occur in people of all ages and are highly contagious. It relies on a host to survive.
What Are Essential Oils?
Plants and herbs contain oils that can be extracted using a sophisticated distilling process. The end product of the distillation process is known as essential oils due to the medical and therapeutic properties of the solution.
Characteristics of these oils include anti-fungal properties and fragrances. The scent and type of agent that is most prominent in the product will depend on the plant the oil has been extracted from. Some fragrances are mild and sweet while others are quite potent.
Essential oils are commonly used for in all kinds of healing practices. They are particularly useful for treating infections, skin conditions, and many other medicinal complaints.
Which Essential Oils Help with Athlete’s Foot?
Essential oils contain a broad-spectrum of anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agents that inhibit the aerobic growth of yeast, mold, and fungi. Another benefit of essential oils is they are versatile and can be used in various ways to the same effect.
Experts recommend mixing water with 25% to 50% of essential oil. Weak mixes do not work as effectively. However, essential oils are highly concentrated, so you also have to be careful not to use too much either.
In the list of oils mentioned below, we have suggested recommended methods of how to use essential oils. Some treatments are best applied alone. Potent oils should be used with a carrying agent or diluted with water.
This contains anti-fungal properties that are known to be effective at wiping out mold. The nutritional properties are also suitable for the immune system which help the body to fight fungus naturally. People with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to fungal skin infections, like athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.
Studies show that oregano has antioxidant properties that inhibit antimicrobial activity against bacteria and fungi. Its compounds include antiseptics known as phenols which are also found in thymol and carvacrol – two active ingredients that eliminate fungus on contact.
Oregano oil for athlete’s foot is easy to use. Follow the instructions below:
- Apply it between the toes with the dropper
- Rub the ointment in so that it soaks into the skin
- Cover your foot with a sock or plastic sock to prevent oil going on to the floor
- Repeat this twice daily until the condition has cleared
Lavender is known for its anti-inflammatory, regenerative and antibacterial properties. It is found in many treatments that help to promote healthy skin thanks to a range of skin-pathogenic strains.
Together with its medicinal properties, lavender also has a soothing fragrance that helps to reduce stress and can aid sleep.
There are several ways to treat a toe fungus. However, because Lavender oil doesn’t have anti-fungal properties that are as potent as other essential oils, so it is advisable to blend the ointment with another treatment.
Here is a quick step-by-step guide:
- Put water in a bowl
- Add lavender oil with tea tree oil
- Soak your feet for 30-60 minutes
- Dry your feet thoroughly
- Cover your foot
- Repeat twice a day
You should also consider wearing moisture-wicking socks for sweaty feet to bed to help the essential oils permeate the skin.
Melaleuca Oil (Tea Tree)
Known as Tea Tree Oil, Melaleuca is a natural antiseptic that penetrates the skin, relieves stinging and dissolves irritable conditions such as athlete’s foot.
There are various types of tea tree oil, many of which brands label as “therapeutic grade.” However, these labels are mainly for marketing purposes. As a result, the treatments are not as effective as the brand promise.
Melaleuca Oil, on the other hand, is 100% pure. Tea Tree oil products that use 100% extracts are more effective than diluted solutions.
The most effective way to apply Melaleuca Oil to treat athlete’s foot is straight from the bottle. Just apply the oil directly to affected areas with a dropper. However, you can also mix it with other oils that have a more pleasant smelling aroma.
This is how to use tea tree oil for the treatment of athlete’s foot:
- Use a small container that can be used for mixing oils
- Mix with a carrier oil (coconut, almond or lavender)
- Apply the solution to the affected areas with a Q-Tip or clean makeup brush
- Repeat this 3 or 4 times a day
Also known as Olibanum, the essential oil is sourced from the resin of the genus Boswellia sacra tree which is known to harbor anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous agents.
One of the qualities attributed to frankincense is it helps the body to absorb nutrients. The oil subsequently helps to boost your immune system and fight fungal infections that grow on the skin.
Doctors recommend mixing Frankincense with a carrier oil such as coconut, olive oil or jojoba.
This is how to treat a toe fungus with frankincense oil:
- Make a foot soak by adding essential oils to warm water
- Use ten parts frankincense oil, four parts carrier oil
- Soak your feet for 30-60 minutes to allow the ointment to soak into your skin
- Dry feet thoroughly
The eucalyptus plant is another natural remedy that is well-known for its medicinal qualities. Eucalyptus works as a natural analgesic that aids the immune system and harbors anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties that inhibit microbes.
The oil also helps to hydrate skin and restore cells that fight athlete’s foot and toenail fungus. Its antifungal properties are effective at inhibiting the growth and weakening dermatophytes.
Here is how to treat athlete’s foot using Eucalyptus oil:
- Blend one teaspoon of eucalyptus oil with 2 cups of water
- Add the mixture to a spray bottle
- Spray the solution on your feet and toes
- Dry your feet thoroughly
This contains menthol which is extracted from the herb and used in countless medicinal and cosmetic lotions. Menthol has been scientifically shown to contain anti-fungal properties that are effective against fungal skin infections.
Among the therapeutic components of peppermint oil is omega-3 acids and vitamins that help to nourish skin. The cool, soothing effect helps to relieve pain and irritation caused by burning and itching.
Treat athlete’s foot with peppermint oil by doing the following:
- Make a natural scrub
- Blend 1 tablespoon of peppermint oil with a cup of rolled oats and ¼ cup of sea salt
- Massage the compound into your feet
- Use an exfoliating scrub for the removal of dead skin
- Wash your feet and dry thoroughly
The active agents in lemon essential oil are not only effective for fighting fungal skin infections but also help you relax and unwind. The ingredients absorb into the skin and promote blood circulation which is needed to aid the healing process.
Because the ingredients of lemon help the regenerative process of skin cells, direct application of the essential oil helps to give your feet a healthy, fresh smelling appearance.
You can use lemon oil to remove athlete’s foot by following the quick steps below:
- Mix 2-3 drops of lemon oil with 2-3 drops of olive oil
- Apply the mixture to the affected area with the back of a spoon
- Wear anti-fungal socks to help the compound permeate the skin
This is another potent essential oil for skin funguses. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties inhibit the growth of microbes.
It is effective against athlete’s foot due to its antiseptic effect. It controls the mycelial growth of yeast and reduces inflammation to reduce the effect of burning. If you have extreme athlete’s foot, lemongrass oil will help reduce the irritating effects.
You can use Lemongrass oil for foot fungus by following these steps:
- Drink lemongrass tea between one and four times a day
- Apply the spent teabags to the areas of your feet that are affected by athlete’s foot
- Apply 1-2 drops of lemongrass oil directly to infected areas
- Wear anti-fungal socks to help the solution soak into your skin
If you have skin that is particularly sensitive, you should dilute the essential oil with a carrier solution.
Side Effects of Essential Oils
Natural ingredients aren’t always 100% safe.
They are highly-concentrated solutions, so you only need a small for the solutions to be effective. Before using essential oils always read the instruction label and follow the guidelines carefully.
- If you do have allergies or sensitive skin, you should carefully monitor how your body responds.
- Be careful how you use and store essential oils. Swallowing essential oils can cause severe illness and even death, so don’t leave bottles near food, and keep away from children and pets.
- Some essential oils contain photosensitizing agents that make you burn more quickly in the sun. If you are carrying athlete’s foot, you shouldn’t be walking around barefoot anyway, but don’t go and lay on a sun lounger or tanning bed after applying essential oils either.
- You may also discover that essential oils are not suitable for use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. While some essential oils can have a damaging effect on children under the age of one, the rule only applies to highly concentrated oils. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommends avoiding these essential oils when you’re pregnant.
Most patients that use essential oil to treat athlete’s foot won’t experience any problems.
There is a high percentage of pharmaceutical drugs that leave patients with adverse side effects. For example, man-made treatments for athlete’s foot contain ingredients extracted from allylamine and azole groups, such as terbinafine and clotrimazole.
It is widely regarded that allylamine-based treatments are the most effective. A report by NCBI shows that conventional medicine heals 56 out of 100 people. However, these drugs can also cause reddening, irritation, headaches, dizziness, digestion problems, and rashes.
How Long Do Essential Oil Treatments Take to Work?
To date, there is insufficient data from clinical tests to determine how long they will take to work.
You can determine how long the treatments will take to work. Healing time depends on the severity of your condition together with how well your skin reacts to active ingredients.
They contain different chemical compositions. Each type, therefore, reacts to fungal infections in different ways. Furthermore, your skin may respond to a specific type of anti-fungal agent better than others.
The product you purchase may also impact the length of time it takes for your athlete’s foot to clear. Some solutions are not as concentrated and thus not as powerful. Other factors could include weather, how much your feet perspire and how well you look after your feet.
Will My Athlete’s Foot Go Away Permanently?
Athlete’s foot can be persistent. Will it go away for good? It will do if you treat it properly and look after the health of feet to prevent it from returning. However, that is not always the case.
Although anti-fungal treatments will cure athlete’s foot, if the fungi are encouraged to grow, the condition will grow back.
Fungi is highly contagious and can spread to other parts of the feet. If the infection gets under the toenails, it needs to be given time to grow out and takes longer to heal. Experts recommend treating athlete’s foot even once the infection appears to have disappeared.
Do Natural Remedies Work?
Using natural remedies to treat athlete’s foot is a topic of contention. A quick search on the internet will bring up plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest an entire cupboard of home remedies can be used to cure foot fungus.
While many home remedies do have anti-fungal properties, there is insufficient scientific proof to substantiate every claim. Furthermore, natural remedies are NOT recognized by the US Food And Drug Administration (FDA).
Herein lies the bone of contention. On the one hand, the FDA supports the medical industry, and the big money is made by Big Pharma. The FDA only ever acknowledge medicine that is produced by pharmaceutical companies.
If you have doubts that essential oils or home remedies will cure your athlete’s foot, the alternative option is to take the medical route. This is also the case if you have tried natural remedies without success.
Athlete’s foot can come on quite suddenly and cause burning. In this acute stage, you should be looking to cool the burning and reduce the inflammation with a topical anti-fungal cream that has anti-inflammatory and cooling properties.
In most cases, topical anti-fungal creams will clear up athlete’s foot. Topical means creams, or sprays that are applied directly to the affected area of the skin. Anti-fungal creams are readily available from pharmacists.
Favorite brands include terbinafine, clotrimazole, econazole, ketoconazole, and miconazole. Follow the instructions given with the product and continue to apply until your condition has cleared up.
Catch athlete’s foot in its early stages, and you should be able to notice a difference within one or two weeks. Typical healing time is around four weeks. However, the time it takes to completely clear up maybe longer if you have extreme athlete’s foot.
When skin inflammation is pronounced, you should consult a doctor. For severe cases of athlete’s foot, a doctor may prescribe oral treatments as well as an anti-fungal cream. This will help fight the infection quicker, although it should be noted that pharmaceutical treatments can sometimes cause side effects.
When Should I See a Doctor?
You should look to consult your doctor if you notice any of the following conditions:
- The pain or inflammation is incapacitating
- Your foot is swollen and sore to the touch
- You have a medical condition that leaves you immunocompromised
- The skin cracks. People often mistake athlete’s foot for eczema
- Pus or bleeding appears in blisters
- Anti-fungal treatments do not work
Athlete’s foot is persistent. If the fungal infection has not entirely gone, it will grow again once you stop the treatment. Some people find that athlete’s foot can lead to toenail fungus. If your immune health is weak, you should see a doctor without delay.
Experts say you should continue using anti-fungal treatment for a couple of weeks after the condition has cleared up. Continue using an anti-fungal cream for 50% longer than it took for the problem to clear up.
Athlete’s Foot Prevention Tips
Shoes, sneakers and public places that get a lot of foot traffic are ideal breeding grounds for fungal infections to spread.
There are steps you can take to avoid getting athlete’s foot. Also, use essential oils or other home remedies that have anti-fungal properties to inhibit tinea.
Follow these suggestions:
- Wear socks with shoes (not nylon or polyester)
- Buy a pair of quality anti-fungal socks
- Wash your feet, especially in between the toes
- Keep bathroom surface and towels clean
- Wear plastic socks in the shower and leisure center changing rooms
- Don’t walk barefoot in public spaces (retail changing rooms, airport security)
- Allow your feet to breathe whenever possible
Doctors in countries other than the United States often recommend using essential oils as the best natural alternative to over-the-counter creams or oral medications. At this time, medical research is limited, so trial and error are required to see how your feet respond.