Guide to Using Tea Tree Oil and Athletes Foot


tea tree oil and athletes foot


The following article takes a closer look at what is athletes foot, how you get it and how to use tea tree oil to fight fungal infections of the feet. 


What Exactly is Athlete’s Foot?

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is a very common fungal infection of our feet that’s caused by parasites on the skin called ‘dermatophytes’.

These organisms thrive in warm, moist environments, which makes our feet an ideal place for the fungi to grow.

Symptoms of athlete’s foot can include itching, stinging and burning between the toes or soles of the feet.

Some infected individuals may also experience dry skin on soles of the feet that may crack and peel.


How Do You Get Athlete’s Foot?

Most infections are spread by an some one already infected with athlete’s foot.

The organism is easily spread in damp, public areas. 

locker room with lockers and benches

Unsuspecting individuals who are barefoot in public facilities, such as showers, saunas or swimming poos, are susceptible to getting athlete’s foot.

The bare open soles may come in contact with puddles of water that could be contaminated with the fungal organism.

Once the parasite get into the crevices between your toes, they will begin to feed off the microscopic traces of dead skin, which allows them to grow and multiple.

Doctors encourage people to wear loose fitting shoes or sandals in any public area and it’s recommended to completely dry your feet after bathing or showering to reduce the risk of fungal growth.


How Do You Treat Athlete’s Foot?

The most commonly prescribed treatment is anti-fungal sprays, lotions, creams or powders using the anti-fungal medications – miconazole and clotrimazole.

While these medications are very effective, some potential side effects can include redness, stinging, blistering, peeling, swelling, itching, hives, or burning at the area of application.

Recent studies indicate that tea tree oil is an effective treatment for athlete’s foot and it may offer less side effects, compared to traditional anti-fungal medications.


Studies Show Tea Tree Oil is Effective Against Athlete’s Foot


New South Wales, Australia – Researchers conducted a double-blind study comparing the effectiveness and safety of concentrated tea tree oils on athlete’s foot fungus.

One hundred and fifty eight (158) patients with athlete’s foot applied tea tree oil concentrations of either 25%, 50% 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 experienced an improvement in symptoms.
  • 68% of participants using 50% tea tree oil also experienced an improvement in symptoms, but with a 64% cure rate.
  • 39% of the placebo group showed some response with only a 31% cure rate.

Researchers concluded that a 25% and 50% concentration of tea tree oil can effectively treat athlete’s foot with minimal side effects.


More Research Shows Tea Tree Oil Fights Athletes Foot and Other Fungal-Infections

While the results of the above study are encouraging, there’s even more research showing the anti-fungal properties of tea tree oil could make it an effective treatment for athlete’s foot, candida yeast infections and other fungal-type infections:

  • A study published in the 2003 edition of Journal of Applied Microbiology analyzed all of the active ingredients in tea tree oils, including terpinen-4-ol, alpha-terpineol, linalool, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene. Test results showed that they all display activity against a range of fungi.
  • Another study conducted at the Department of Dermatology, University of Leipzig, Germany was published in the Journal of Skin Pharmacology German researchers tested the anti-fungal activity of tea tree oil against 26 different strains of various dermatophyte species and 54 yeasts, including 32 strains of Candida albicans. They found tea tree oil concentrations as low as 0.5% to 0.44% could inhibit the growth of all clinical fungi and concluded that a topical tea tree oil ointment has significant anti-fungal activity.


Step-by-Step Guide to Using Tea Tree Oil on Athlete’s Foot:

  1. Soak your feet in warm water to soften the skin.
  2. Use a pumice stone to gently scrape off any dry flaking skin. Apply a light pressure and try not to break through the skin.
  3. Rinse off feet and dry thoroughly.
  4. 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.
  5. *Don’t Wipe Off the Tea Tree Oil: Allow the oil to soak into the skin and then let your feet ‘air dry’.
  6. Apply tea tree oil to athletes foot daily for up to 2 weeks – it may take some time before you notice any improvement.
  7. Do not continue treatment if you experience any increased redness, burning stinging or aggravation of your present symptoms.
  8. Contact you doctor or dermatologist if you do not experience any improvement after 1 – 2 weeks.

While there are many over-the-counter products you can use to treat this condition, tea tree oils may be an effective treatment for fungal infections, such as athletes foot.

For best results, you may need to use tea tree oils with higher concentrations of terpinen-4-OL (the primary active ingredient in tea tree oils) for a stronger anti-fungal reaction.



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Author Details
Author Details
Kevin is a full-time blogger with a passion for functional, whole food nutrition. A former Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 25 years experience in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, he also has additional training as a Certified Natural Products Advisor. He enjoys a vibrant lifestyle that includes healthy foods, workouts focusing on core strength with flexibility and longboarding to stay fit and agile.