Essential Oils in Athlete's Foot

This fungal skin condition can be produced by a number of different microscopic fungal growths, causing inflammation and itching. Despite its name, it is neither confined to the feet nor only restricted to athletes.

The most suitable anti-fungal essential oils to use are Lavender, Myrrh and Tea Tree, all of which not only tackle the infection directly but are also soothing and healing. Initially, they may be best applied dissolved in a little neat alcohol, at 2-3 percent dilution, or even used sparingly on their own on the moist, infected skin; when the skin is drier, they might then be incorporated into a cream base, up to 3 percent dilution. Another useful base is Olive oil, which in itself seems to have some anti-fungal activity. Oil of Calendula, or the Old English Marigold, has very helpful healing properties and may be used as a base too. It may be helpful in the beginning to use a footbath, with 10 drops of one of the essential oils mentioned, but it is essential that the feet are dried thoroughly afterward, and kept aired as often as possible.

The commonest sites are where the skin gets moist and hot, such as between the toes or in the groin, and on the scalp where it may take the form of ringworm. The most important self-help measures involve keeping the affected area cool and dry, and paying scrupulous attention to hygiene as the fungus can accumulate under the nails causing infection between the fingers or simply spreading by contact.

External applications of tinctures of either Marigold (Calendula officinalis) or Myrrh (Commiphora) are powerfully anti-fungal; leave the application to dry out on the skin. If the skin is very moist, these two herbs may be applied in powder form if available, either neat or by mixing with unperfumed talcum powder. Widespread or recurrent infection may also require internal remedies to bolster the immune system — take Garlic (Allium sativum) regularly, either in food or perhaps as a capsule; a short course of Cone Flower (Echinacea Angustifolia or E.), as an infusion, tincture (see pages 12 and 14 respectively) or in tablets (around 1,500 mg per day) may help.

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