Health Topics

Athlete’s Foot & How Essential Oils May Help Get Rid of It

Health Description

Athlete’s foot, various types of ringworm, and jock itch are all skin related fungal infections.

Athlete’s foot.  Athlete’s foot is caused by a type of fungi called dermatophytes.  There are three types of athlete’s foot.  In any of the three types of athlete’s foot, especially if the fungal infection causes open sores, an added complication of a simultaneous bacterial infection may occur.  The three type are:

  • The most common is the between the toes (most often the fourth and fifth toes) and is accompanied by peeling or cracked skin with burning and itching.  Tight shoes and socks with a warm, damp environment enables the fungus.
  • Trichophyton rubrum fungus causes moccasin type athlete’s foot.  In this case it usually begins with soreness of the feet then the sole of the foot can become dry, thick, and scaly.  In difficult cases the infection can move to the toenails.
  • The least common, known as “jungle rot” is caused by the fungus Trichophyton mentagrophytes.  Symptoms include a sudden development of liquid filled blisters commonly on the bottom of the foot but may also be on the top.  Secondary reactions to the fungus can cause a wave of blisters elsewhere on the body, arm, chest, sides, or fingers.

Of importance to essential oils users is that in any athlete’s foot problem the primarily infection is a fungal infection but in difficult situations it can include a bacterial infection.  Both need to be addressed.

Ringworm.  Tinea capitis and tinea corporis are the medical terms for ringworm of the scalp and ringworm of the body.  Both are fungal infections of the top layer of the skin and the only thing in common with a worm is the circular shape.  They can begin in a localized area and spread in a circular fashion even with the center region healing as the infection spreads outward.

Besides the characteristic red circular rash there may also be blisters and it is usually accompanied by itching.  Ringworm of the scalp, common among children, can also leave bald patches on the head.  The infection can be spread from person to person if clothing is shared or contact is frequent.  Dogs can be a carrier as well.

Jock Itch.  This is another type of fungal infection known as tinea cruris.  Again a red, itchy rash forms, sometimes is a ring shape.  This is usually in moist warm areas of the body, hence the name, as athletes or overweight people will have this rash in the genital, inner thigh, or buttocks area.

Suggested Protocols

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of suggestions made by those that have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Essential Oils to Use for Athlete’s Foot:

Essential Oils: Geranium, Lavender, Tea Tree, Thyme

Also consider: Cypress, Myrrh, Peppermint

Ways to Use:

Commonly mentioned oils for these fungal infections are Tea Tree or “Melaleuca”, Oregano, Thyme, and a topical blend to address the infection itself.  Concurrently, applying Lavender soothes and helps relieve itching.  Finally, Geranium is an excellent oil for skin disorders and healing.

A protocol suggested is to make the following blend and apply topically.  Mixing up a 10 day supply initially would be wise.  The amount typical for one application would be:

  • 1 drop Lavender
  • 1 drop Tea Tree
  • 1 drop Thyme
  • Therefore, 30 drops of each blended together would provide the 10 day protocol

Apply 2-3 drops of this blend topically on the area of infection 3 times a day for 10 days.  Follow this with Tea Tree oil (may be mixed 3:1 with a carrier oil such as coconut oil) for 30 days to assure the fungus does not return.

With athlete’s foot persistent re-infection may come from one’s own shoes. Place a cotton ball with Tea Tree or a cleansing oil blend in each shoe and close them inside a bag overnight or replace your shoes and socks entirely.

If you are treating someone else it is a good idea to cleanse with Tea Tree or a protective oil blend after treatment so the fungal infection is not spread. 

Experiences & Testimonials

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of the experiences of others who have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Randy – I have been using lavender, tea tree and thyme faithfully for over two weeks and the ring worm is getting bigger.  Has anyone had success using essential oils for ringworm?  If so, please let me know what you used how much and the frequency.  Thank you.

Linda – We had several on my 5 month old’s legs. We layered lavender, tea tree, frankincense twice a day for 6-8 weeks until it was completely gone. It did seem to initially get aggravated before it started going down…  Hope this helps.

Emily – I developed a Ringworm blend. (Editorial Comment: Heather Beckwith also posted the recipe/instructions on her Facebook page and we added some of her information from that page to her below google group post – Thank you Heather!)

Ringworm Blend

10 mil Roller Bottle

10 drops Myrrh

20 drops Helichrysum

10 drops Geranium

25 drops Roman Chamomile

10 drops Oregano (dilute)

Dilute this oil blend with a a carrier oil such as coconut oil especially since Oregano is a hot oil.

Please make blends in the order they are given. Otherwise you may experience differing results.

Keeping the skin clean is important and applying vinegar to sores prior to application quickened healing.  We use white vinegar in a dropper bottle.  Also using a baking soda & vinegar body scrub helped too.  Funguses have a coating we want to penetrate to weaken them.  Keep the area dry.  Ringworm appears to improve in the sun and saltwater.  This type of fungus is a very contagious fungus.  We used a protective oil blend in our Laundry to help insure it is cleansed from socks.

Eating healthy is also wise. If you have a fungus then feeding you what the fungus likes to eat is just generally unwise. So you will likely want to avoid sugar, and simple carbs convert quickly to sugar.

Testimonials, Questions, and Answers

Carly – Is there any one out there who has had success with getting rid of ring worm. This person has had doctor treatments years ago. One always pops up every few months . He put Oregano on it for a few weeks and it burned it off. Now two more have come. Should he try something internal?

Beth – My first choice would be Melaleuca or called Tea Tree. I know this list is about oils but just as a note, we used black walnut tincture topically before we were introduced to oils and it worked within a few days.

Kate – I would use Geranium, Lavender, Tea Tree, Peppermint or Myrrh.  The following blend may be useful:

2 drops Lavender, 2 Tea Tree  and 2 Thyme.

Apply 1-2 drops of the blend on the ringworm 3 times a day for 10 days. Then Tea Tree with a carrier oil daily until the ringworm is gone.

Jennifer – I am new to (…) and oils.  I have been getting lots of info from this group, thanks to all that share.  I was wondering if any can offer advice for severe athlete’s foot?  We are desperate for a cure!  Have tried all types of OTC anti-fungal creams, homeopathic suggestions and even oral anti-fungal meds twice back to back ( was much better after this but now coming back).  It is very uncomfortable and itchy to the point of waking up at night with itch and burning in foot, peeling cracked skin on foot which makes me nervous about foot infections.   Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Victoria – Tea Tree oil has worked wonders for my parents.  Our family travelled to France when I was a child.  My Mom would hold us while we bathed in the showers because of the filth.  As a result she got a nasty foot infection.  For thirty years she had tried every antibiotic, otc. ointment and slave she could get her hands on.  About six months ago, I gave her Tea Tree oil and it cleared within two weeks.  Not a trace is left.  She used it neat.

Lucie – I use my “Boo Boo” remedy for that.  I mix up the following recipe and put it in a 15 ml spray bottle or three,  5 ml roller bottles.  You have much more control with the roller bottles, because the spray goes everywhere.  I also like that I have a roller bottle in my purse and one in each bathroom.  Great for all the little cuts and scrapes, minor burns, etc… that occur on a daily basis.    I also give these as a hostess gift for holding a home class.

15 Drops Tea Tree
15 Drops Lavender

Add drops to a 5 ml bottle and fill with coconut oil.  Add your spray top or divide into three – 5ml roller bottles.

Ellen – When you have tried everything else and still have it then try BASIL!   I just had an incident with it…went to a friends house stayed overnight, used their shower and the next day I had a split around my baby toe,used Melaleuca and Topical (Skin) Blend for days and still had it…something told me to use basil and wala!   No more hurting sore on my foot! Basil is an essential for every home, don’t leave home without it!

Science Research

Layman’s summary:

Trichophyton mentagrophytes is the technical name for a common found fungus that is the source of superficial infections on the skin of humans and some animals.  It  commonly infects the skin, hair, and nails being a frequent causative agent of chronic infection of the feet, nails, and groin.  The common names of such infections are jock itch and ringworm.

The study only explored exposing this fungus to the vapors of essential oils and did not explore direct (topical) application.  The essential oils tested in this research were Clove, Geranium, Lavender, Oregano, perilla, and tea tree (Melaleuca).  The findings were that they all were effective in killing this fungus.  Oregano was the most effective; Clove and perilla second most effective; and Geranium, Lavender and Melaleuca third.  Further Oregano, perilla, Melaleuca and Lavender were effective in 3 hours while Clove and Geranium required overnight exposure.

Original report (from SpringerLink):

The vapor activity of Oregano, perilla, tea tree, Lavender, Clove, and Geranium oils against a Trichophyton mentagrophytes in a closed box.

Inouye S, Nishiyama Y, Uchida K, Hasumi Y, Yamaguchi H, Abe S.

Teikyo University Institute of Medical Mycology, 256 Otsuka, Hachioji, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-0395, Japan.

The vapor activity of six essential oils against a Trichophyton mentagrophytes was examined using a closed box. The antifungal activity was determined from colony size, which was correlated with the inoculum size. As judged from the minimum inhibitory dose and the minimum fungicidal dose determined after vapor exposure for 24 h, the vapor activity of the six essential oils was ranked in the following order: Oregano > Clove, perilla > Geranium, Lavender, tea tree. The vapors of Oregano, perilla, tea tree, and Lavender oils killed the mycelia by short exposure, for 3 h, but the vapors of Clove and Geranium oils were only active after overnight exposure. The vapor of Oregano and other oils induced lysis of the mycelia. Morphological examination by scanning electron microscope (SEM) revealed that the cell membrane and cell wall were damaged in a dose- and time-dependent manner by the action of Oregano vapor, causing rupture and peeling of the cell wall, with small bulges coming from the cell membrane. The vapor activity increased after 24 h, but mycelial accumulation of the active oil constituents was maximized around 15 h, and then decreased in parallel with the decrease of vapor concentration. This suggested that the active constituent accumulated on the fungal cells around 15 h caused irreversible damage, which eventually led to cellular death.

Especially For Kids

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of the experiences of others who have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Samantha – I have to share a story.  We have a 10 year old daughter that had what I figured was a ringworm type fungal infection. She had oozing spots on her scalp, arms, hands, legs and groin.  The doctor gave us a prescription with the ominous warning that it may or may not work, then told us horrible side effects to watch for, including sever allergic reactions, vomiting, and seizures.

I “accidentally” lost the prescription, and we started with a blend of Melaleuca and Rosemary applied neat to every spot 3 times daily or more.  We would alternate with Lavender and Lemon so her body wouldn’t grow tired of one blend.  After about 2 days, many of the legions started to crust over and dry out.  Most were gone within a week. There are still a few hanging around, but not nearly as many as their were, and we are trying to find an oil or blend that will get rid of the last of these fungus.

I’m so thankful for the oils and the power it gives us to take care of our own families.

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