No matter how hard you try to keep yourself clean, things happen.
Sometimes, athlete’s foot can spring up when you least expect it – especially in the summertime or in climates like we have in New Zealand.
Athlete’s foot is a fungus and it’s extremely hard to kick. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist the pun.)
The truth is, you don’t need to buy a handful of different products to remove the fungus from your body and clothing.
In fact, many people don’t realize that essential oils contain powerful antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Here’s everything you need to know about using essential oils for athlete’s foot.
Is It Athlete’s Foot or Dry Skin?
Athlete’s foot and other skin conditions like eczema can look very similar. For one thing, there are several different types of foot fungus. Plus, athlete’s foot looks very different in different people.
If you have persistent dry skin between your toes or on the bottoms of your feet, there’s a good chance it’s actually a mild – yet still very contagious – form of athlete’s foot.
It’s crucial to understand the subtle differences.
When in doubt, assume you’re dealing with a fungus just to make sure you have all your bases covered. You’re better off using antifungal essential oils for athlete’s foot just to be sure rather than letting the fungus spread elsewhere.
Here’s where athlete’s foot comes from and how to identify it.
What Causes Athlete’s Foot?
Jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm: they all fall under the same umbrella.
The tinea fungus typically causes these infections. A tinea infection on the feet is known as athlete’s foot.
If you believe you have athlete’s foot, it doesn’t mean you’re dirty, living in squalor, or need to reevaluate your entire hygiene modus operandi. In fact, it doesn’t even necessarily indicate you’ve been sweating a lot.
Fungi crave warm and moist environments – that’s it.
They’re also great at sticking to surfaces for long periods of time without any warning signs. No matter how clean you keep yourself, you can still wind up with a persistent case of athlete’s foot.
Here are some common causes of or risk factors for athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.
- Sharing clothing or linens with an infected person including towels, socks, or sheets
- Walking barefoot – especially in showers, bathrooms, water parks, spas, nail salons, and other wet places
- Naturally sweaty palms and feet (your palms can air out, your feet can’t)
- Another infection or open sore on your foot including ingrown toenails
- Not thoroughly drying your feet or between your toes after showering
- Tight-fitting socks and shoes
- Wearing wet socks or shoes from stepping in a puddle or getting wet
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
Symptoms of athlete’s foot can look and feel very similar to eczema or dry skin. There’s also no reason your dry and itchy skin couldn’t be both eczema and athlete’s foot.
Here are some telltale signs of a fungal infection.
- Burning and itching in between your toes or anywhere on your feet
- Itchy blisters on your feet
- Cracking or peeling skin on your feet – usually between your toes or on the bottoms
- Raw itchy skin
- Discolored, peeling, crumbly, or otherwise abnormal toenails
Severe cases of athlete’s foot can cause many complications. If you think you have a severe fungal infection, it’s important to see a doctor for proper tests and treatment.
What Are the Best Essential Oils for Athlete’s Foot?
Mild cases of athlete’s foot are easy to treat with natural solutions. Essential oils for athlete’s foot are particularly powerful due to their high concentration of potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Here are some of the best options.
Many people might assume citronella is actually a laboratory-derived chemical because of its use in mosquito repellants but it’s actually a powerful essential oil.
Not only does eucalyptus contain antifungal properties, but it can also speed up wound healing. This makes eucalyptus essential oil an excellent option for many skin conditions like athlete’s foot.
Geranium has potent anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and astringent properties to help kill athlete’s foot and soothe your stressed-out skin.
Lemongrass and citronella are very similar in both smell and properties. If you’ve got a fungal infection, reach for some lemongrass and citronella salve.
Manuka contains 20 to 30 times the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil. This essential oil is indigenous to New Zealand and is very beneficial for assisting the skin’s natural healing abilities.
Yes, the modest peppermint is a potent antifungal solution. Add a few drops to your favorite manuka oil ointment to create a fungus-fighting powerhouse.
7. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is one of the all-around best essential oils for athlete’s foot and just about all skin conditions.
Since manuka is very similar but with higher potency, you’re better off sticking with manuka if possible.
Ridding Yourself of Athlete’s Foot: Don’t Forget Your Shoes and Clothing!
When treating athlete’s foot, it’s extremely important to keep everything sterile. Use a cotton swab or other item to apply the cream or salve. If you need more, grab a fresh cotton swab to avoid contaminating the container.
Many people place their finger directly on the top of their essential oil bottles – this is a big mistake because it can contaminate the bottle.
Don’t forget to clean your shoes, socks, sheets, and all other clothing or linens. Soak linens in a strong essential oil and alcohol mixture. You could also create a disinfectant spray for shoes using alcohol and the essential oils for athlete’s foot listed above.
During an infection, spray your shoes each night before bed and let them air out.
Take proper precaution and disinfect everything: this will ensure the infection disappears and never comes back.