Fungi love summer as much as we do! Favoring warm, moist conditions, they thrive during balmy weather, making us prone to infections. Stubborn microbes, once camped on our skin, they don’t leave easily. Thankfully, fungus can be conquered without medications. Drugs pose the risk of side effects, and long-term use fosters fungal resistance. However, certain botanicals shine against fungi – killing them, preventing recurrence, and rejuvenating your skin. Here are the best antifungal essential oils that will give fungi the boot.
1. Crafting essential oils
Essential oils are concentrated aromatic liquids derived from plant parts, with therapeutic qualities. They can be sourced from flowers, roots, stems, seeds, bark, and leaves. Most essential oils are processed through steam distillation.
First, botanic material is placed in a steam chamber. Vapor pressure squeezes the aromatic compounds from plant matter, forming an oil. Then the steam and oil move from the chamber to a cooling device called a condenser. Cooling the vapor changes it to water, and the oil separates from it.
Certain essential oils are natural fungicides. They can be used to treat athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, ringworm, and jock itch, which affects both men and women.
Note – Throughout this blog, for product sources, click on the highlighted links. If you end up with extra essential oil mixtures, store them in glass bottles.
See a dermatologist before using essential oils if you have diabetes, poor circulation, immune disease, or any serious medical condition. If a skin disorder isn’t fungal, improper home care can worsen existing illness and lead to complications.
Pregnant and nursing mothers should obtain physician consent before self-treating with essential oils. During the first trimester of pregnancy, essential oils should be avoided entirely. Products covered in this blog that are hazardous for expectant moms are eucalyptus, lavender (the species Lavandula stoechas), and tea tree oil (the species Leptospermum petersonii). Here’s a complete list of safe and unsafe essential oils for pregnant and nursing mothers.
Here’s another caveat. Generally, you should dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, to prevent skin irritation. However, it’s safe to use pure tea tree oil on toenail fungus.
3. The Best Antifungal Essential Oils for Athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot is highly contagious skin disorder, named for its prevalence among athletes. Several types of fungi cause athlete’s foot, so symptoms vary. Initially, it presents as dry scales on the sides and soles of the feet. Subsequently, skin may crack, flake, burn, and itch, including areas between the toes.
Advanced athlete’s foot renders blisters and a sour smell. Nails may become thick, yellow, and crumbly.
Caution – Always thoroughly wash your hands before and after treating an infection. Prior to applying one of these antifungal essential oils, clean and dry the target areas. Without these control measures, you risk spreading fungi to other body regions.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is one of the best antifungal essential oils that is widely used to treat fungal infections, including yeast infection.
Mix 5 drops tea tree oil with 1 teaspoon carrier oil, such as olive, almond, or coconut. Then, rub the mixture onto your skin and toenails. Perform this treatment twice daily until the infection clears.
Since fungus gets a foothold through nail injuries, keep your nails trimmed. More on toenail fungus is detailed below.
Heal blisters with the help of eucalyptus essential oil. While killing fungi and bacteria, eucalyptus softens and hydrates skin.
How to use eucalyptus essential oil for athlete’s foot? Mix 3 drops eucalyptus oil with 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Soak a cotton ball with the mixture, and swab over skin. Before putting on socks, let your skin air dry completely. Repeat twice daily.
To sanitize shoes, fill a 16-ounce spray bottle with 2 cups water and 1 teaspoon eucalyptus oil. Shake well, spritz inside shoes, and allow to dry.
Add 6 drops geranium oil to a basin of water, and soak your feet for 10 minutes. Then, dry your feet thoroughly, including between the toes.
Whenever possible, wear breathable socks and shoes. During sports and when outdoors, if your feet get wet, change into dry footwear at your first opportunity.
One source of infection is salons that don’t sterilize their instruments. Before booking service, make sure the salon guards against infection with sanitary practices.
Rather than walking barefoot, wear sandals or flip-flops in public locker rooms, gyms, swimming pool areas, and shower stalls. You can also get athlete’s foot from an infected person within your household. Therefore, never share towels, socks, or shoes.
4. The Best Antifungal Essential Oils for Ringworm
Like athlete’s foot, ringworm easily spreads. Although the name conjures fearsome images, rest assured that worms aren’t involved. Instead, the term ringworm describes lesion appearance.
Infection begins as a circular patch that’s red, itchy, and scaly. Red bumps may arise in the center. A raised border develops around the patch, forming a ring. Several spots can arise simultaneously, sometimes overlapping. Ringworm can occur on multiple body areas, including the scalp, face, hands, and feet.
Along with thwarting fungus, neem eliminates itching and dryness.
Dilute 5 drops neem oil with 1 teaspoon coconut oil, and rub the mixture onto infected skin. Repeat three times daily until ringworm resolves.
Tea Tree Oil
Terpenes destroy ringworm fungi by damaging their cellular membranes.
Mix 8 drops tea tree oil with 1 teaspoon coconut oil, and massage into skin. Repeat three times daily. To target scalp ringworm, add 5 drops of tea tree oil to shampoo.
With a mildly sweet lemon fragrance, this medicinal herb kills fungi and expedites skin healing.
Dilute 6 drops lemongrass oil with 1 teaspoon coconut oil. Massage a thin layer into skin, repeating four times daily.
Ringworm is acquired through contact with an infected person or surface. Therefore, avoid sharing towels, brushes, combs, clothing, bedding, and nail grooming instruments. If you have kids, be alert for signs of ringworm on their skin. Teach them not to share clothing, brushes, combs, and hair accessories.
Dogs and cats carry the fungus, too, posing the risk of infection by a pet. If a cat starts losing fur in round patches and develops skin lesions, suspect ringworm, and promptly bring your feline to a veterinarian. Generally, essential oils are hazardous for cats. Since felines are so fastidious with cleaning themselves, ingestion of essential oils causes liver failure.
However, dogs can be safely treated. Here are natural canine treatments to consider if you have an infected dog.
Do you attend a gym? If so, bring a spray bottle of vinegar for disinfecting equipment. If you participate in sports involving skin contact, shower immediately after.
Wear sandals or flip-flops in public showers, gyms, locker rooms, and swimming pool areas, where ringworm thrives. When perspiring is unavoidable, shower at your first chance, followed by thorough drying.
Warning – If ringworm is spreading despite treatment, promptly see a doctor for aggressive care, to avoid body-wide infection.
5. The Best Antifungal Essential Oils for Jock Itch
This is a fungal rash in skin areas chafed by clothing. Typically, jock itch affects the groin, buttocks, thighs, and genital region. The fungus can also develop under breasts and around the waist.
Skin is red and itchy, burning, and possibly flaking. The rash may form a ring or half-moon, spreading from the groin to the upper thigh. It can also be rimmed in small blisters.
Lavender essential oil shows a potent antifungal effect against strains of fungi that are responsible for common fungal skin infections.
Twice daily, mix 5 drops lavender oil with 1 teaspoon carrier oil, and massage into skin. Or, add the mixture to bathwater, and luxuriate for at least 10 minutes.
Tea Tree Oil
To kill fungus and soothe inflamed skin, mix 4 drops tea tree oil with 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture, and swab over skin. Let your skin absorb the salve before blotting any excess. Perform this treatment twice daily, after showering and before bed.
Jock itch and athlete’s foot can be the work of the same fungus. If you have either infection, use caution toweling down, so the microbes don’t spread.
During summer, wear breathable fabrics, such as cotton. Avoid wearing tight underwear. After activities that make you perspire, take a shower, and dry your skin well. Never share towels or clothing.
Before and after using the bathroom, wash your hands, closing the spigots with a paper towel. Otherwise, your hands are re-contaminated by the germs on sink fixtures.
At public swimming pools, gyms, shower stalls, and locker rooms, wear flip-flops or sandals versus going barefoot. Disinfect gym equipment with vinegar before use.
Note – If jock itch doesn’t improve within two weeks of self-treatment, see your physician.
6. The Best Antifungal Essential Oils for Toenail Fungus
This infection occurs when microbes gain access through tiny cracks in nails or surrounding skin. Toenails acquire a yellow or brownish tinge and become ragged, thick, and brittle. Nails may also crumble, lift, split, or develop white patches. Pain may be present as well.
This essential oil kills toenail fungus and prevents reinfection. Additionally, it aids moisture evaporation, hampering fungal growth.
Mix 6 drops lemongrass oil with 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Massage over and under infected nails. Apply twice daily.
Tea Tree Oil
Apply 2 drops tea tree oil to each affected nail. Using a cotton swab, rub the oil into your nails. Let them dry before putting on socks and shoes. Repeat this process twice daily until nails look healthy.
If you obtain pedicures, make sure the salon sterilizes their equipment between clients. Wear flip-flops or sandals at public swimming pools, gyms, locker rooms, and shower stalls. Since toenail fungus needs warmth and moisture to survive, keep your feet dry.
Keep your toenails trimmed, cleaning clippers with alcohol after use. Until your nails heal, skip nail polish since it prevents nail bed ventilation.
7. Product quality
When shopping for antifungal essential oils, buy only therapeutic grade. This term signifies pure, high-quality oil, handled properly for optimal potency.
This claim should be authenticated by testing, such as by specific gravity, Mass Spectrometry, or Gas Chromatography. Additionally, purity must be backed by a guarantee. Another measure of high quality is GMP certification, representing “Good Manufacturing Practices.”
Summer is prime time for fungi, supplying the warmth and moisture they love. However, with diligent use, antifungal essential oils kill infections and aid skin healing. Options for treating common disorders are:
- athlete’s foot – tea tree, eucalyptus, geranium
- ringworm – neem, tea tree, lemongrass
- jock itch – lavender, tea tree
- toenail fungus – lemongrass, tea tree
Once an infection resolves, take steps to prevent recurrence. Don’t let fungi spoil your summer fun!
Please share your success with essential oils for fungus!