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The 6 Best Essential Oils for Athlete’s Foot

How to Safely and Effectively Use Essential Oils for Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot. Ugh.

Another one to add to the list of runners’ foot ailments. As if we don’t have enough setbacks with banged-up toenails, blisters, and hot spots already, we have to be careful to avoid this one as well.

As runners, taking excellent care of our feet is a priority and should be at the top of our list.

If you follow this quick guide, you will have a much better chance at avoiding athlete’s foot altogether and in the unlucky event that you contract it, know how to treat it with essential oils for athlete’s foot.

The following six essential oils have antifungal, antiseptic, and even anti-inflammatory properties that can assist in relieving athlete foot and its symptoms.1Kalemba, D., & Kunicka, A. (2003). Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties of Essential Oils. Current Medicinal Chemistry10(10), 813–829. https://doi.org/10.2174/0929867033457719

Feet on a bed resting next to essential oils.

6 Essential Oils For Athletes

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant and tree extracts from leaves, seeds, bark, roots, rinds, and flowers.

They are created through a cold pressing or steam distilling process and then used in various ways.

Essential oils are used to freshen up laundry, repel insects, aromatherapy, and combat specific ailments such as stress and difficulty sleeping. 

What is the strongest natural treatment for athlete’s foot?

Here, we will take a look at essential oils for athlete’s foot and how to use them properly.

Aside from their effectiveness in antifungal activity and antimicrobial activity, they are also jam-packed with plenty of other benefits for your general well-being.

Glass jars with leaves coming out of them.

#1 Lemongrass

Sometimes referred to as lemon essential oil, this clean, citrus scent is often used in self-care products and to freshen laundry.

Its more medicinal purposes include aiding in healthy digestion, preventing infection, and relieving inflammation.

Its antifungal properties are known to fight against the particular fungus that causes athlete’s foot.2Pattnaik, S., Subramanyam, V. R., & Kole, C. (1996). Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro. Microbios86(349), 237–246. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8893526/

#2 Tea Tree Essential Oil

Can tea tree oil cure athlete’s foot?

Tea tree oil has an endless list of healing powers in addition to aiding in healing athlete’s foot. It can help treat acne, bacterial infections, dandruff, wounds, odors, a stuffed-up nose; you name it!

A few drops of tea tree can work well. Tea tree oil is widely regarded as the best essential oil for athlete’s foot.

#3 Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender has a light, floral scent which aids in decreasing stress and anxiety and helps improve sleep, depression, allergies, and pain relief.

#4 Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus and its fresh and clean aroma are powerful against fighting off the common cold and bugs alike! It can also ease muscle and joint pain, excellent for after a run!

#5 Peppermint Oil

This minty oil has a soothing, cooling effect on the skin. It can also help with headaches, indigestion, and bug bite relief. It is a very effective essential oil for athlete’s foot as it will fight off the odor, fungal infection, and itch that comes along with it.

#6 Geranium

Geranium has a floral, rose-like scent and is used for varios skin irritations in addition to being a great essential oil for athlete’s foot such as acne. It is also used in wound treatment due to its antibacterial properties.

Oil being poured from a glass jar.

What Is The Best Essential Oil For Athlete’s Foot?

The best essential oil for athlete’s foot appears to be tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil. Its potent antifungal properties make it a standout choice for combatting the foot fungus responsible for athlete’s foot.

Whether used topically by diluting it with a carrier oil and applying it directly to the affected area or incorporated into a foot bath for a soothing foot soak, tea tree oil proves to be a versatile and effective remedy.

Other essential oils may also offer relief, but tea tree oil stands out as a go-to option for those seeking natural home remedies to alleviate symptoms of athlete’s foot and other fungal conditions like ringworm or toenail fungus.

So, if you’re dealing with athlete’s foot, consider incorporating tea tree oil into your foot care routine for its beneficial effects on both your foot health and overall immune system.

A picture of a foot with athlete's foot.

What Is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot is more common than you think, affecting runners and athletes everywhere.

It is a fungal infection, tinea pedis, that often begins to form in between the toes but can quickly spread to the rest of the foot and even to other parts of the body.3Mayo Clinic. (2022, October 8). Athlete’s foot – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/athletes-foot/symptoms-causes/syc-20353841

‌It can, at times, be challenging to detect if the only symptom experienced is dry, itchy skin in its early stages. 

Fungus grows in moist, warm conditions, and since athletes’ feet sweat quite a lot, it creates the ideal environment for this fungus to flourish, hence the name.

The nature of our sport creates the perfect conditions for fungus to thrive, which is why we need to do everything possible to stop it in its tracks!

A bottle of essential oils on a table.

Is Athlete’s Foot Contagious?

Yes, absolutely, yes!

Athlete’s foot can be highly contagious, which is why it’s essential to avoid walking barefoot in public areas, such as locker rooms, where the fungus could be present on surrounding surfaces, clothing, or towels.

Athlete’s foot can be contracted by direct or indirect contact. By only touching an item of clothing that has been contaminated or walking over a contaminated surface, it can be passed on from person to person. 

Places where athlete’s foot is often prevalent and quickly spread include gyms, saunas, public pools, and public showers. It can easily be present on yoga mats, floors, and towels if these items are not adequately cleaned and disinfected after each use

Hands must be washed immediately after contact with the fungus, as it can be spread to other parts of the body.

A crossfit gym with rowing machines.

What Are The Symptoms Of Athlete’s Foot?

  • Itching and burning in between toes and/or on the soles of the feet.
  • Cracking or peeling skin. 
  • Red, dry, or raw skin.
  • Blisters.
  • Unpleasant odor.

Suppose athlete’s foot is not attended to right away. In that case, another symptom can be thick, discolored toenails that may begin to pull away from the nail bed. This is a result of the fungus making its way to the toenails.

A runner with muddy shoes and feet.

10 Tips To Prevent Athlete’s Foot

Tips:

As we wish to avoid contracting athlete’s foot at all costs, follow these simple pieces of advice to keep your feet safe and sound.

  1. Change out of your wet shoes as socks immediately after completing your workout. 
  2. Dry out your running shoes before their next use, or alternate running shoes if they remain damp the day after. 
  3. Use moisture-wicking socks instead of cotton. These will allow your feet to breathe, in turn keeping them drier. 
  4. Use talcum powder and/or foot spray regularly to keep your feet dry throughout the day. 
  5. Use flip-flops in public facilities such as gyms, showers, and pools to protect yourself.
  6. Use sandals at home to allow your feet to breathe as much as possible. 
  7. Dry your feet thoroughly before putting on your socks and shoes. 
  8. Disinfect or discard any clothing or footwear that may have come in contact with the fungus.
  9. Do not share shoes or socks with others.
  10. Try to avoid tight-fitting footwear
A person sprays a yoga mat with cleaning products.

If you are unlucky and end up contracting athlete’s foot even after taking these precautions, here are ways we can treat it, naturally.

How To Treat Athlete’s Foot

If athlete’s foot is not treated promptly and properly, it may lead to other complications such as infected toenails or bacterial infections.4Information, N. C. for B., Pike, U. S. N. L. of M. 8600 R., MD, B., & Usa, 20894. (2018). What helps to get rid of athlete’s foot? In www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279548/

Therefore, it is important to identify the condition and attend to it right away.

There are several over-the-counter medicated ointments and powders to treat athlete’s foot. However, there has been great success with more natural treatments such as essential oils for athlete’s foot.

Two bottles of essential oils.

How To Apply Essential Oils For Athlete’s Foot

First of all, it’s important to remember that you should not apply pure essential oils directly to your skin. To properly use them, you will need a carrier oil such as coconut or almond oil. 

Let’s check out how to prepare essential oils for athlete’s foot: 

Mix 3 drops of your essential oil of choice along with 20 drops of your carrier oil. When the oil is mixed, take a sterile cotton ball, and apply the oil to the area affected by the athlete’s foot.

Only apply the oil to the affected area while being careful not to rub the healthy areas around it. If you do, there is a chance of spreading this highly-contagious fungus to healthy skin and worsening the situation. 

Be consistent with applying these essential oils for athlete’s foot. For the best results, applying them twice a day for several weeks.

Essential oil being poured onto skin.

Skin Patch Test

When trying any new skin treatment or remedy, it is never a good idea to apply it directly onto the affected area without doing a skin patch test first. You want to avoid irritating your skin even more if you, for some reason, have an adverse reaction to it. 

  1. Wash and dry a healthy patch of skin, such as on your inner forearm, where you will perform the test.
  2. Apply 2 drops of the diluted essential oil for athlete’s foot onto the cleaned patch of skin.
  3. Cover the area with a bandaid to ensure the oil doesn’t wipe off or the area doesn’t get wet. 

A negative reaction is unlikely if your skin doesn’t become irritated within 24 hours of the application. If an adverse reaction were to occur, it would often be within the first 10 minutes after the application. 

Note: If you feel any discomfort and do have a reaction at any time, immediately remove the bandaid and wash the affected area thoroughly. Do not proceed with the use of this essential oil for athlete’s foot or any other direct contact with your skin.

A doctor inspects someone's foot.

Speedy Treatment

Athlete’s foot is an uncomfortable, painful condition that can hamper not only our training process but our everyday life.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to address it immediately and not wait for it to get worse and spread, making it even more challenging to get rid of. 

If you are experiencing symptoms, give these essential oils for athlete’s foot a try when treating this condition. You’ll be surprised at how effective they can be. However, not everyone reacts the same, and you will want to consult with a doctor if symptoms persist.

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References

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Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community, she is known for her ear-to-ear smile, even under the toughest racing conditions. She is a UESCA-certified running coach and loves sharing her knowledge and experience to help people reach their goals and become the best runners they can be. Her biggest passion is to motivate others to hit the trails or road alongside her, have a blast, and run for fun!

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