Athlete’s foot, otherwise known as tinea pedis, is a highly contagious fungal skin infection that develops on the top outer layer of skin on the foot. The rash normally always develops in the moist, dark areas between the toes where air can’t promote healing. Athlete’s foot can cause thickening of the skin, a scaly rash, itchy feet, foot blisters, discoloration, and toenail loss. Gym showers, swimming pools, and other environments that involve walking barefoot in a moist environment can be hotspots for exposure to athlete’s foot. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot moves easily from an infected person to the wet surfaces in these places, transmitting it to an unaffected person. It can be easily prevented, but can be difficult to get rid of.
Jock itch, or tinea cruris, is also caused by fungus and is a form of ringworm that lives in warm, moist places on the body. People who sweat a lot, are overweight, or have eczema develop it more frequently. Jock itch normally begins with a reddened area of skin that spreads out from the crease in the groin. The border of the rash may sometimes have a line of small, raised blisters. Often it itches or burns. Jock itch may be difficult to get rid of. So, it is easier to prevent it than to treat it.
Top Five Essential Oils for Treating Athlete’s Foot and Jock Itch
The top five essential oils for treating tinea fungus are tea tree oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil. These oils can be mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil and rubbed onto the skin. They take about a week to take effect and have been shown to remove the fungus completely after two weeks. In addition to killing the fungus causing discomfort, they also provide additional health benefits when used on the skin. And while breathing these oils is not likely to relieve athlete’s foot, many of these same oils are found in personal essential oil diffusers. For instance, lavender oil is in Sexy, Happy, Sleepy, and Ocean MONQ.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is distilled from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant in Australia. The oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties, making it a great fit for treating acne, athlete’s foot, or contact dermatitis. Though tea tree oil is best known for its antibacterial activity, it has also been shown to relieve inflammation, likely due to its high concentration of terpinen-4-ol. However, it is important never to ingest tea tree oil. While it is always recommended to see a doctor with any kind of fungus, tea tree is known to kill a range of yeasts and fungi.
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Tea tree oil may be useful for a range of skin conditions. In a study where participants were treated with tea tree oil, most individuals reported a reduction in both total acne count and severity. Additionally, several treatments for contact dermatitis—a form of eczema caused by contact with an irritant—were compared, including tea tree oil, zinc oxide, and clobetasone butyrate. Tea tree oil was more effective in stopping allergic contact dermatitis than most other treatments. However, it had no effect on irritant contact dermatitis.3
It is important to note that tea tree oil itself may induce allergic contact dermatitis in individuals with sensitive skin. To test for an allergic reaction, try the oil on a small patch of skin first. If any redness, swelling or a rash develops, avoid using tea tree oil on the skin.
Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon oil is also a useful essential oil. It can be a good remedy for restoring the luster of dull skin and acts as an astringent, rejuvenating sagging or tired-looking skin. Its antiseptic properties treat pimples and other skin conditions, and helps to remove excess oil on the skin.4
Lemon oil is calming, helping decrease mental fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, anxiety, and nervous tension. The essential oil refreshes the mind by creating a positive mindset and eliminating negative emotions. Inhaling this oil helps increase concentration and alertness. Additionally, its high Vitamin C content makes it a great immune system booster.
This oil can also improve blood circulation in the body. Inhaling the scent of lemon essential oil can clear the nasal passages and sinuses, which promotes good air flow and steady breathing.
Beyond treating fungus, lemon essential oil can be used for hair care, treatment of gastrointestinal issues, or weight loss. When paired with other essential oils, lemon can prove effective in treating fungus on the skin. The combination of its astringent properties and the acidity in lemon fights to kill off tinea fungus.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, the Arabian Peninsula, and Russia. Today it can also be grown in Europe, the United States, and Australia. The lavender plant has long been used to promote appetite and a good mood, as well as relieving gastrointestinal issues and anxiety. Today, people use lavender as a supplement for anxiety, intestinal problems, and pain. Some also apply it to the skin for help with hair loss, pain, and fungus.5
Lavender essential oil can be used with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, to help remove the harmful fungus that may result in skin conditions.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is one of the oldest European herbs used for medicinal purposes. It is a hybrid species created from the spearmint and water mint plants. The essential oil is collected by steam distillation of parts of the flowering plant. The active ingredients are menthol and menthone. These are responsible for giving peppermint essential oil a cooling sensation and a calming effect on the body. This can relieve sore muscles when used topically.
Typically, peppermint is recommended for its anti-nausea benefits because of its soothing effect on the digestive system and ability to reduce muscle spasms, but it has many other uses. Peppermint essential oil has been shown to freshen bad breath, remove tinea fungi, improve mental focus, clear the respiratory tract, boost energy, and relax tight muscles. Because of its astringent and antimicrobial properties, peppermint essential oil can effectively treat athlete’s foot and jock itch when mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the skin. This oil provides the added benefit of cooling the affected area, further relieving itching.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
The eucalyptus tree, also known as Tasmanian Blue Gum, is an evergreen tree native to Australia. Eucalyptus works as an expectorant, meaning it clears the body of toxins and harmful microorganisms through mucus release.
When mixed with coconut or olive oil, eucalyptus essential oil can add moisture to the hair. Additionally, it can fight dandruff, relieve an itchy scalp, and remove head lice.
Among its benefits, eucalyptus is particularly known for treating the tinea fungus. Due to its antifungal properties, eucalyptus essential oil can be used to treat fungus in infected toenails, jock itch, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, and cold sores, while also relieving the itch and some of the inflammation that comes with these conditions.6
At-Home Antifungal Remedy
For relieving the symptoms and potentially treating athlete’s foot or jock itch, the following at-home remedy can be prepared with a mixture of these essential oils.
Begin by creating a base oil by taking about five tablespoons of coconut oil and putting it into a bowl. Then add one drop of tea tree oil and lavender oil and two drops lemon oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil.
Before using this mixture, test it out on a small patch of skin to prevent an allergic reaction.
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