5 Best Essential Oils for Athlete’s Foot Treatment

Athlete’s Foot is a fungal infection that can be pesky, embarrassing, and uncomfortable. Luckily, this is a common condition that can be cured at home. Many of us turn to over-the-counter remedies from the pharmacy to treat Athlete’s Foot, but for those of us seeking a more natural and holistic treatment option, we can turn to – you guessed it – essential oils!

We’ll go over the background of anti-fungal essential oils, how they work, and share some of the science behind the anti-fungal properties of these oils. Then, we’ll share some of the best essential oils for toenail fungus and Athlete’s Foot as well as some home remedies that feature essential oils as the active ingredients. Of course, we’ll include precautions to look out for as you leverage these essential oils.

Anti-fungal essential oils

Our amazing essential oils can have a myriad of benefits, one of which is the most relevant for Athlete’s Foot is the ability to fight fungus. There is a lot of scientific evidence supporting several essential oils as fungi-fighters, which also makes them your best bet for combatting Athlete’s Foot. One 1996 study, found that aegle, citronella, geranium, lemongrass, orange, palmarosa, and patchouli inhibited the growth of twelve different strains of fungi tested in the lab. Eucalyptus and peppermint inhibited the growth of eleven of the twelve strains of fungi that were tested. These results are echoed across several scientific studies.

Tea tree is a very commonly recognized anti-fungal essential oil because it too has many research studies to support its function as a powerful anti-fungal. There are several articles pointing to tea tree as a staple anti-fungal essential oil. One research study states that tea tree oil’s effect on Athlete’s Foot was mostly the relief of associated symptoms. It states that although symptoms were relieved, the concentration of the Athlete’s Foot fungus was not reduced. Another more recent study found that tea tree was effective at both relieving symptoms and reducing the Athlete’s Foot fungus in study participants, but also noted that some participants developed skin irritation from the use of tea tree. This reaffirms our precautions to always use a carrier oil and to start slow with the application of essential oils until you know how they affect you. 

If we get into the nitty-gritty of how essential oils function as anti-fungal agents, it is really quite remarkable. Essential oils contain terpenes and terpenoids, which are basically the effective molecules of the oil. Terpenes are the “active ingredient” of essential oils, powerful molecules that interact with other cells in specific ways. 

The terpenes of anti-fungal essential oils have been found to disrupt the cell membrane of fungi, meaning that they can cause inhibited growth of these fungus cells or even cell death. The direct action of anti-fungal essential oils on fungus is especially important. The way that over-the-counter drugs interact with the cell walls of fungi inhibits their growth, but can also cause mutation and therefore drug-resistant strains of fungi. Essential oils target a part of the fungus cell that prevents mutation and resistant strains from developing. 

Best essential oils for athlete’s foot treatment

There are several essential oils that are proven to be effective against fungus reduction, but the Athlete’s Foot (or tinea pedis) fungus is a tricky fungus that responds best to a few specific essential oils. We’ll cover tea tree essential oil and coconut oil primarily while sharing a few other essential oils that have proven to be effective against tinea pedis and other fungi on the feet!

Tea tree oil for toenail fungus

Tea tree essential oil is a veritable powerhouse essential oil, offering a wide range of potent benefits! Not only does tea tree oil have anti-fungal properties, but it is also considered to be antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory. Tea tree essential oil has proven effective at relieving symptoms of contact dermatitis, or a basic rash, but there is also research supporting tea tree’s role as a treatment for Athlete’s Foot . It is important to note that many people can develop a rash from the use of tea tree essential oil, even if it is diluted (as it should be) with a carrier oil. We recommend starting treatment with a very small patch of skin and seeing how you react. Each person is different, so you don’t want to potentially create more irritation by jumping the gun and slathering tea tree on your entire foot before knowing how you react! During your patch test, don’t forget to use your carrier oil! For the treatment of fungus, we recommend coconut oil because of its additional antibacterial properties that give nasty bacteria and fungi an extra kick in the rear!

Coconut oil for toenail fungus

We hear a lot of things about coconut oil, so let’s clear it up and share how you can use this oil on your feet! Coconut oil has been researched with positive results as an antifungal agent so feel free to use this on your toes to cut down on toenail fungus. Unlike tea tree, coconut oil does not typically irritate the skin so it can be used more confidently on the skin. However, you should always do a patch test on your skin first so that you are completely certain that you will not have adverse effects. 

Coconut oil is also awesome for both Athlete’s Foot and toenail fungus because, in addition to being anti-fungal, it also has antimicrobial benefits. What makes coconut oil so powerful at fighting microorganisms in the presence of lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that has been shown to kill off bacteria in research studies. More than 50% of the composition of coconut oil is lauric acid, so this is part of what makes it such a great option for killing bacteria. Capric acid is another fatty acid that is present in coconut oil. There is research that directly links capric acid with killing certain types of fungi, meaning that it is another component of coconut oil that makes it a great option for treating fungus on the feet and toenails.

Lemon Essential Oil

Dropper Bottle Of Lemon Essential Oil Bp2Z4Hd 1024X684 1 - Essential Oils For Athlete'S Foot

Lemon essential oil is a great option for combatting microorganisms that cause conditions like Athlete’s Foot. Scientific research has shown that lemon essential oil may be effective as both an antibacterial agent and antioxidant, which is why we see a lot of lemon essential oil in natural household cleaning products. The high acidity and astringent properties of lemon essential oil are also thought to be effective against Athlete’s Foot as well as the bacteria you might find lurking on your kitchen counters.

Another amazing component of lemon essential oil is limonene, a chemical found in peels or citrus fruit that is thought to have an inhibitory effect on cancer cell growth. Although more research is needed to confirm this, the initial results have been promising. 

Whether you choose to use lemon essential oil for Athlete’s Foot or not, it should definitely be a staple in your essential oil toolkit.

Lavender Essential Oil

This essential oil may come as a surprise on the list of oils to use to combat tinea pedis. Lavender’s function with treating tinea pedis is more so to assist with the discomfort associated with it. Lavender is an essential oil that is gentle and soothing and has shown promise in relieving uncomfortable skin irritation. If you are experiencing tinea pedis and have uncomfortable itching or burning sensations, a few drops of lavender essential oil mixed with your carrier oil of choice may be your key to relief.

However, if the itching and burning sensations on your feet worsen or don’t improve within a few days, be sure to seek medical attention.

In addition to its benefits in soothing the skin, lavender essential oil is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, providing you with some much-needed relaxation after dealing with your feet!

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus Oil 5Tpby7K 1024X683 1 - Essential Oils For Athlete'S Foot

The potential medicinal benefits of eucalyptus are thought to come from the chemical compound called eucalyptol, which is shown to have antimicrobial properties. Eucalyptus is a great addition to any at-home remedy for Athlete’s Foot, adding not only the potential of antimicrobial benefits but also a fresh scent. 

This essential oil hails from the eucalyptus globulus varietal of the eucalyptus tree in Australia. While this tree still predominately grows in Australia, it has spread to other parts of the globe as well. 

Outside of its use as a potential treatment for Athlete’s Foot, eucalyptus has been shown to reduce inflammation in the upper respiratory tract and sinuses, making it a great option for diffusing if you are dealing with a cold or allergies. Eucalyptus is just one of multiple oils that are great for inflammation and pain.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Ah, peppermint. The scent can be reminiscent of the holiday season, but this wonderful oil has efficacy year around! The most relevant application of peppermint essential oil for tinea pedis is its potential to relieve uncomfortable itching associated with the condition. In fact, one particular study showed peppermint’s itch-relief potential, test subjects showed significantly less itching than their counterparts in the placebo group. 

Some sources say that peppermint essential oil can be applied directly to the affected area, but we still maintain that it is best to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil until you know how you react to it. Give peppermint a try to relieve frustrating itching through topical application or by doing a soak with a few drops of peppermint essential oil.

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano has been in documented medicinal use since the era of the Roman Empire! This powerful essential oil has chemical compounds called phenols, terpenes, and terpenoids, which have very strong antioxidant properties and are responsible for its fragrance. Some of the most important compounds that occur in oregano are carvacrol, thymol, and rosmarinic acid. Carvacrol is the most commonly occurring phenol in oregano and has proven to stop the growth of different bacterias, which can be especially important to treating tinea pedis since it can occur in conjunction with other conditions. Thymol is a natural anti-fungal that can help combat Athlete’s Foot and has also shown promise against candida overgrowth. Rosmarinic Acid is an antioxidant found in oregano that can fight free radicals and the damage caused by them.

Home remedies for athlete’s foot

You don’t need to head to the pharmacy for relief from Athlete’s Foot. Instead, open your medicine cabinet and your essential oil kit and you can craft some effective and sweet-smelling remedies right in the comfort of your own home. We’ve crafted a few remedies for you below to try out if you ever find yourself dealing with Athlete’s Foot. Keep in mind that most people see relief in 2-6 weeks of consistent treatment, so you will need to make sure you are treating the condition regularly to see true results!

Athlete’s foot cream

One simple idea for treating Athlete’s Foot is a homemade cream. All you need is some coconut oil and essential oils to make this cream, with the added option of arrowroot powder. Whether you choose to use arrowroot powder or forgo it, you can glean the benefits of essential oils with this simple concoction. 

Take about five tablespoons of coconut oil in a glass container as your base for this cream, then add in two drops of tea tree oil and three drops of another oil of your choice. If you choose to add arrowroot powder to the mix, add in a tablespoon or two and mix. From here, you can mix your cream with a clean spoon and apply it to your feet three to four times daily. Your best bet is to purchase a therapeutic-grade essential oil to ensure that you receive the best results possible from your cream.

Athlete’s foot spray

If putting coconut oil on your feet doesn’t sound like a good option to you, fear not! We have this refreshing Athlete’s Foot Spray recipe for you!

You’ll need to gather a clean spray bottle, witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, tea tree essential oil, and cinnamon essential oil. You can choose to forgo the cinnamon essential oil if you don’t have it, but it does have some great anti-inflammatory benefits. 

Once you have all of your ingredients, you can mix about a quarter cup of witch hazel and a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar along with one or two drops of tea tree essential oil (remember to start slow with tea tree), and then you have the option of adding around ten drops of cinnamon essential oil to your mixture. The cinnamon is optional, but does give the spray a really nice scent as a fringe benefit!

Give the spray bottle a gentle shake to ensure that all of the ingredients are mixed before spraying on the affected areas. As always, be sure to patch test this spray to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.

Athlete’s foot soak

There are several options out there for an effective Athlete’s Foot soak, some not involving essential oils at all. You can soak your feet with vinegar or baking soda, but be sure not to combine them. Remember those exploding experimental volcanos in elementary school science class? That’s what happens when you mix those two ingredients! 

On the essential oil side, you can try out a soak with one drop of tea tree and a few drops of peppermint and lemon essential oils to fight some fungus. Not only does this combination pack the punch of tea tree, peppermint, and lemon, it also smells fantastic! Fantastic and fungus-fighting, what else could you ask for?

Additional home remedies

There are many combinations of the essential oils we discussed above that can be used to treat Athlete’s Foot. Feel free to experiment with what works for you and based on your own needs and possible sensitivities. 

Bentonite Clay

There are a few options for creating Athlete’s Foot powders. Bentonite Clay is a natural moisture-absorbing clay that can be used in conjunction with essential oils for maximum benefits. Consider combining Bentonite Clay with cinnamon essential oil and brushing it on your feet prior to putting on socks and shoes for moisture absorption which prevents further irritation of tinea pedis symptoms. Cinnamon essential oil packs the added benefit of anti-inflammatory properties as well as a fresh scent. 

If you do choose the powder route, there are a few precautions that should be taken. Be sure not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after applying the powder to your feet. Also, make sure to wash your hands before and after applying the powder.

Prevention Methods

There are also a few practical tips to consider to prevent Athlete’s Foot. Practicing good hygiene and protecting your feet from cracks or flaking is important for preventing any kind of infection, but especially the transmission of tinea pedis. 

Keeping your feet dry is an additional way to reduce the discomfort of Athlete’s Foot because the fungus that causes Athlete’s Foot thrives in a moist environment. Trying out a moisture-absorbing powder in conjunction with not keeping your feet in a moist shoe for longer than necessary may be helpful. Even before you put on shoes and socks, try making sure that your feet are completely dry to reduce the possibility of Athlete’s Foot.

Make sure that any cuts on your feet are clean and covered at all times. On that note, also make sure that you are not sharing razors, towels, socks, or shoes with anyone. Sharing is caring, but sharing fungus does not fall under that category.

When showering in public places like the gym or walking around a public bathroom or sauna, be sure to wear shower shoes. You may feel goofy, but you’ll be reducing the chance of infections like Athlete’s Foot or worse.

Things to watch out for

As always, use your best judgment when treating foot fungus with essential oils. If you find that the appearance is changing in any way or beginning to spread, always seek immediate medical attention. If you are beginning to develop ulcers on the feet or your irritation is spreading, discontinue treatment and seek professional medical attention. Athlete’s Foot can be associated with not only fungus but also serious bacterial infections like staphylococcus aureus. The fungus that causes tinea pedis is also very easily transmitted from person to person, so it is important to ensure that if you do have Athlete’s Foot you are not putting yourself in situations where it can be transmitted to others. This includes the use of communal showers and sharing socks and shoes. 

Additionally, when using new essential oils or combinations of oils, be sure to always patch test a small portion of your skin before going all in to see how your skin reacts. Always use your best judgment, enjoy the fungus-fighting scent combinations you create, and be well!

Leave a Reply