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Guide to Using Tea Tree Oil and Athletes Foot
So can you really use tea tree oil to treat athlete’s foot? While there are many medicated lotions and sprays to treat this condition, some researchers have learned that tea tree oil may be an effective home remedy for athlete’s foot.
What Exactly is Athlete’s Foot?
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a fungal infection of your feet cause by parasites on your skin called ‘dermatophytes’. These nasty little fungi feed on the dead skin on your feet. They love warm, moist places…which make some peoples’ feet the ideal place for it to grow.
How Do You Get Athlete’s Foot?
Most infections are spread by an infected person and usually occur in damp public areas. Places such as public showers, saunas and locker rooms are prime breeding grounds for contacting the fungus.
This actually happened to me a couple of years ago….I was finishing up my daily workout at the gym I decided to use the the shower facilities. On that day, I didn’t have any sandals so I just walked barefoot throughout the damp shower area to do my thing.
A few days later, I noticed my feet started feeling itchy and the skin started peeling. Right then, I knew I’d contracted a case of athlete’s foot. Take it from me, it’s probably a good ideas to wear sandals on your feet whenever you use a public shower or sauna because it can help protect your bare feet from getting infected.
Doctors actually encourage people to wear loose fitting shoes and drying your feet completely while bathing to reduce the risk of fungal growth. The fungus tends to like growing in dark, moist places (like between your toes) so keeping cool dry feet is the best way to go.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot:
If you have itching, peeling skin and redness around your toes and feet then you know you’re infected. Some athlete’s foot infections can get so severe that the skin can feel like it burning which become quite uncomfortable.
So How Do You Treat Athlete’s Foot?
Typical treatment is usually anti-fungal sprays, lotions, creams or powders using the medications miconazole and clotrimazole. But there are possible side effects with these anti-fungal drugs which can include redness, stinging, blistering, peeling, swelling, itching, hives, or burning at the area of application.
At the time, I had actually tried using an anti-fungal spray to treat my athlete’s foot; I used it for about 2 weeks before I started experiencing more burning, peeling and redness so I had to stop using it.
So is there a home remedy for athlete’s foot that won’t cause the side effects associated with anti-fungal medications?
Researchers Prove Tea Tree Oil Effective Against Athlete’s Foot
New South Wales, Australia – Researchers know that tea tree oil is effective against fungi in the lab. But the big question is will it work as well in the real world??
So they conducted a double blind study comparing the effectiveness and safety of 25% and 50% concentrated tea tree oil on athlete’s foot fungus.
One hundred and fifty eight (158) patients with athlete’s foot used either 25%, 50% tea tree oil, or a placebo twice a day for 4 weeks
At the end of the study, researchers discovered:
- 72% of people using 25% tea tree oil showed an improvement in symptoms.
- 68% of participants using 50% tea tree oil experienced an improvement in symptoms and there was a 64% cure rate.
- Only 39% of the placebo group showed any response and there was only a 31% cure rate.
And just to support this study, there’s more research backing up the theory that tea tree oil is effective against certain strains of fungi:
- Antifungal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil
- Antifungal activity of the essential oil Melaleuca alternifolia
My Step-by-Step Guide to Using Tea Tree Oil on Athlete’s Foot
- Soak your feet in warm water to soften the skin.
- Use a pumice stone to help scrape off any dry flaking skin. Apply gentle pressure and try not to break through the skin.
- Rinse off feet and dry thoroughly.
- Apply a few drops of pure organic tea tree oil on the soles of your feet, between your toes and other areas infected with athlete’s foot.
- Here’s the important part: Don’t wipe off the oil. Allow it to soak into your skin for a few minutes to allow the anti-fungal ingredients penetrate your skin. Then allow your fee to ‘air dry’. This part will usually take about about 5 – 10 minutes.
- Remember to apply the oil every day – it may take some time before you notice any improvement.
While there are many over-the-counter products you can use to treat this condition, it may be possible to use natural tree oils to fight fungal infections. If you want to try this home remedy for athlete’s foot, you should use only high potency tea tree oils.
For best results, I recommend using a 100% tea tree oil that contains a high terpinen-4-ol content. This is the substance primarily responsible for this oil’s potent anti-fungal properties.
Treatment of interdigital tinea pedis with 25% and 50% tea tree oil solution: a randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded study. The Australasian Journal of Dermatology. 2002 Aug;43(3):175-8, Tea tree oil and athletes foot study