Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase, but there will absolutely be NO additional cost to you. See our disclaimer for more information.
A common medical condition that will affect about 70% of people at some point in their life is athlete’s foot. This is a fungus that breaks out on the foot. There are several over the counter medications to treat this condition, but personally, I would rather use something natural to help it. A good home treatment for athlete’s foot is the use of essential oils.
Essential oils make a good athlete’s foot remedy because of their anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. Essential oils can fight the growth of the pathogens in this fungus, because of power of these properties.
About Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot is an infection on the foot and toes that is caused by fungi. Its technical term is Tinea pedis. Sometimes it is known as ringworm of the foot. The fungi feed on the keratin proteins found in the top layer of skin. It especially shows up during warm weather.
The most common place the fungi breaks out is the warm and moist area between the little toe and the one next to it. It can also breakout on the bottom of the foot and the soles and heels. It’s important to wash and dry your feet thoroughly to deter it.
The reason it’s called athlete’s foot is because athletes seem to get it more than anyone else. They work hard and sweat a lot, especially on their feet with socks and shoes on. But athletes are not the only ones that can get it. People that are naturally sweaty are susceptible, as well. It actually can be spread to other people.
Walking barefoot on contaminated floors is the most common way for it to spread. So, places like showers, locker rooms, and gyms are great for the fungi to breed. Some experts have expressed that wearing plastic shoes instead of leather or canvas shoes can more likely cause athlete’s foot because they moisten and warm the feet. Also, tight-fitting shoes can have a tendency to trigger athlete’s foot because they squeeze toes together, thus allowing fungi to thrive.
People who have low immune systems, poor circulation, diabetes and neuropathy are more prone to get athlete’s foot. Also, unsterilized equipment at a nail salon can carry the fungus from individual to individual. Another risk factor for developing athlete’s foot is having skin allergies that can cause conditions like eczema or dermatitis. And, too, athlete’s foot can run in the family, all because of genetics that increase the amount of moisture within the skin. So with all these opportunities, you can see why 70% of the population develop athlete’s foot.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
So what are the common symptoms of athlete’s foot? For many people, they might not even know they have the condition. They may think they just have dry skin on their feet. Or some may never have symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms to look for:
- itching and burning between and/or around the toes, especially the little toe
- dry and flaky/peeling skin on the bottoms or between/around the toes
- discoloration of the skin and/or toenails
- there may be a stinky smell to the feet
Here are symptoms for more serious conditions:
- cracking of the skin
- blisters, ulcers leaking fluid, mostly on the bottom of the feet
- itching and/or pain between the toes
- spreading to the toenails, hands or fingers, with discoloration of the nails with chipping and redness.
Bacterial infections sometimes can happen with any of these more severe conditions. If these conditions remain untreated, the condition can spread to other parts of the body, like the hands.
What Essential Oils Are Good For Athlete’s Foot
I call essential oils nature’s medicine. It’s medicine created by our creator to help keep our bodies healthy. Essential oils have such amazing natural properties that can contribute to the well-being of our health. Since athlete’s foot is a fungus, we can use anti-fungal and antibacterial essential oils to treat the affected areas of our feet. The essential oils are also good to boost our immune system to prevent the fungus.
TEA TREE OIL – Tea tree oil is steam distilled from the leaves of the Australian plant, Melaleuca alternifolia. Some of the many properties it possesses are antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. Because of these properties, it can kill some types of fungus and bacteria. There has been a lot of research done on this oil and it has shown that it is a natural anti-fungal agent. Here is a research article that talks about some of tea tree’s properties.
OREGANO ESSENTIAL OIL – Like tea tree oil, oregano is also steam distilled but from the leaves of the oregano (Origanum vulgare) plant . The liquid from this herb contains very concentrated properties. Yes, it’s the same herb we use in our cooking, but it makes a great natural medicine. Oregano essential oil is also, anti-fungal and antibacterial.
Some of the most active compounds in oregano oil are called phenols. Two of which are thymol and carvacrol, making up 71% of the oil. These are the two main active ingredients in oregano essential oil that make it so powerful and kill fungi. Take a look at this study that shows the anti-fungal powers of oregano essential oil.
EUCALYPTUS ESSENTIAL OIL – Eucalyptus oil is extracted from leaves of selected
eucalyptus tree species. There are 500 or more species of the eucalyptus tree. The most popular species for medicinal purposes because of their powerful properties is Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus salicifoli. and Eucalyptus radiata.
Some eucalyptus species are more anti-fungal than others depending on the amount of Eucalyptol, or 1,8-cineole it has. Eucalyptol makes up between 70 – 90% of the oil. Eucalyptus oil also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and pain relieving properties. It can fight viral and fungal infections.
One species of eucalyptus oil, Eucalyptus pauciflora, has been shown to have great potential in fighting Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot). It showed strong anti-fungal activity. Unfortunately, it is an essential oil that is hard to find. Other species maybe easier to find and can still take care of the problem. Check out this study and this one.
CLOVE ESSENTIAL OIL – Clove oil is extracted from the dried flower buds of the clove plant. This is the same clove that we use in cooking and baking. The Latin name for clove is Eugenia caryophyllata or Syzygium aromaticum. The two main constituents in clove oil are eugenol and eugenol acetate with eugenol having the greater percentage. Eugenol makes up between 50 – 90% of the oil.
Because of the high amount of eugenol, clove essential oil can be used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, pain reliever and an anti-fungal. As an anti-fungal, clove oil destroys the cell membranes in fungus. This study shows how clove oil has a considerable amount of anti-fungal activity.
THYME ESSENTIAL OIL – There are over 300 varieties of thyme essential oil, all with different chemo-types. Thyme oil is steam-distilled and extracted from the leaves of the thyme plant. The most commonly used variety is thyme thymol, or Thymus vulgaris thymol. This plant is also used to make the thyme herb we use to season our food. It is also used in cosmetics, toiletries and mouthwash.
Thyme essential oil has constituents that make it anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiseptic, and stimulant. The active constituents in thyme are what make up the properties of thyme. The most active one in thyme thymol is thymol.
It may make up between 30-60% of the oil. There are a lot of variables in regard to the chemical make up of the plant. The make up depends on the environment, growth region, and cultivation practices. Here is a study that was done on thyme essential oil to determine its chemical compound and its antimicrobial, anti-fungal properties.
Ways To Use Essential Oils For Athlete’s Foot
There are several ways you can use essential oils as a home treatment for athlete’s foot that brings relief. Some take a little more work than others. You can try one of them or all of them. Some oils make work for you better than others. It depends on how you react to them.
FOOT BATHS – Research from Japan shows that soaking feet in a mixture of salt water and essential oils for 20 minutes had a significant effect on getting rid of the foot fungus. The most effective oils in order were oregano, thyme, clove, and tea tree. Here is how to use some of the oils for this:
- Add to a foot bath or container that’s big enough to put your foot in, 1 cup Epsom salt, ½ cup sea salt, 1 ounce of carrier oil (almond oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil), 5 drops each of oregano, thyme, clove, and tea tree and 2 quarts warm to hot water and stir. Make sure the water’s not too hot so you don’t scald yourself, but the hotter the better. Soak your foot for about 30 minutes every night until the fungus is cleared up. Make sure you dry your feet really well after each soak and every time you wash them. Here’s an alternative foot bath recipe:
- Make a mixture of 3 parts olive oil to 10 parts tea tree essential oil in a bowl of warm water. Soak the foot 30 minutes, twice daily until you get relief.
DIY SALVE – This anti-fungal salve uses some of the best essential oils to help fight athlete’s foot. It uses lavender, which is also an anti-fungal. The ingredients and directions are as follows:
- 2 cups olive or almond oil
- ¼ cup beeswax pastilles
- 40 drops tea tree essential oil
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- 12 drops each of oregano and clove essential oils
- In a double boiler, heat the olive or almond oil with the beeswax until melted and mixed.
- Stir in the essential oil.
- Pour the mixture into small glass jars, lip chap tubes, or small tins.
- Apply the salve to the infected area once or twice a day.
ANTI-FUNGAL SPRAY – To make an anti-fungal spray, you need a spray bottle, witch hazel, and essential oils. Add your choice of anti-fungal essential oils to the spray bottle and fill bottle with witch hazel. Dilution amount is about 20 drops to approximately 8 ounces of witch hazel. Mist or spritz the mixture on clean and dry affected foot. Allow the foot to dry before putting on socks and shoes.
ANTI-FUNGAL POWDER – This foot powder was shown in a study to prohibit the growth of Tinea pedis, the fungus that causes athlete’s foot. Here’s how you make it:
- ½ cup arrowroot starch/flour
- ½ cup baking soda
- 3 drops each of basil, tea tree, sage, and clove oils
Combine all the ingredients, mixing it well. Apply the powder to your feet before you put your socks on. Do this every time you get dressed.
ANTI-FUNGAL OINTMENTS – There are several ointments you can make that can be rubbed into the foot. These may help to relieve symptoms and possibly clear up the athlete’s foot.
- Combine in a bowl, using a spoon, 5 tablespoons fractionated coconut oil, 1 drop each of tea tree and lavender essential oils, 2 drops each of lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus essential oils. Rub a small amount of this mixture into the affected are.
- Add 3 drops of oregano oil and 2 drops of tea tree oil and a small amount of a carrier oil (such as almond oil) into a small glass container. Stir this with a spoon and apply some directly to the toes or the infected area. Ideally, you should do this 3-4 times a day. These are the two more effective oils to use for athlete’s foot.
- Mix 2 to 3 drops each of essential oils from my list with 20 drops of a carrier oil and, using a sterile gauze coat the affected are of the skin. Do this 2 or 3 times daily for a few weeks.
- Try using 3 drops of tea tree oil with 10 drops of carrier oil and rub it into your feet.
My husband has a problem with fungus on his feet and he has put together an ointment that he uses every day. Check out my recipe post Here.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
The five essential oils I’ve listed here are just my 1st choices. From my research, in my opinion, these were the most effective for a home treatment for athlete’s foot. There are several other oils with anti-fungal properties that I didn’t mention, such as lavender, geranium, peppermint and lemon essential oils.
Essential oils make a great natural remedy for athlete’s foot because they contain such powerful anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties and can promote healthy feet. If this post caught your attention and you have a question or comment, leave it below and I’ll get back to you soon.
As always, thanks for reading!