The best essential oils for athletes foot – treat foot fungus naturally!

by Alison Angold CIDESCO ITEC

The best essential oils for athlete’s foot

The best essential oils for athletes foot are;

  • Patchouli
  • Lavender  
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme
  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood

These essential oils are all fungicidal, along with having other useful properties to treat athlete’s foot.

How do essential oils for athlete’s foot work?

Essential oils are the pure oils that are extracted from flower petals, leaves, fruit or herbs, and are so fine and pure that they have the ability to penetrate through the skin’s surface.

From here, they can enter the bloodstream and travel around the body to have an effect.

However, with the condition of athlete’s foot, the properties of the oils will have an effect directly on the skin, where the fungal infection is occurring. 

Please note – do not apply essential oils directly to the skin – they must be blended with a carrier oil first.

Each essential oil has a different property or therapeutic action meaning that it can have an effect within the skin or the body.

The properties that we need to treat the fungal infection of athletes foot are;

  • Fungicidal – destroys or kills fungus, obviously useful to destroy the fungus causing the infection
  • Anti-inflammatory – reduces inflammation.  Athletes foot, can often become inflamed, irritated or sore
  • Cooling – cools the area of application.  Due to the inflammation of the infection, the area can become hot and irritated.
  • Antiseptic – prevents or removes infection.  Helps alongside the fungicidal properties to remove any infection
  • Immuno-stimulant – stimulates the immune system.  Useful to prevent reoccurrence of the condition

The best essential oils for Athletes foot


Lavender is such a good all-round oil as it has great healing properties.  It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic as well as being fungicidal and cooling.  Lavender has 4 out of the 5 properties we need to treat athlete’s foot, so an essential addition to your treatment blend!


Patchouli is a great anti-inflammatory agent, especially on chapped skin, which we may experience with athlete’s foot.  It is also fungicidal so can help remove the fungal infection.


Another power-force for athlete’s foot!  It is fungicidal to destroy the fungus, anti-inflammatory and cooling to reduce and soothe irritation and it is an immune-stimulant.  A weakened  immune system can often cause repeated infections in the body, such as athletes foot, so by using tea tree we are helping strengthen the immune system to help prevent against future infections.


Thyme is antiseptic and anti-fungal, so helps fight the infection and destroy the fungus causing the athlete’s foot.

(Avoid during pregnancy or if suffering with high blood pressure)


Is a lovely light citrus oil, that is fungicidal, as well as being anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and cooling.  A great oil to add to a blend to cool and soothe the skin, while helping to kill the fungal infection

Check out all the other many, wonderful uses of Bergamot oil here.


A deeper, more woody fragrance, cedarwood is fungicidal and antiseptic.

A row of essential oils.  The best essential oils for athletes foot.

What is athlete’s foot

Athletes foot is a fungal infection commonly found on the soles of the feet and particularly in between the toes.  It is a contagious condition and is not uncommon.  It can come in different forms, however most commonly, the skin is flaking but soggy at the same time.  The flakes of skin may often be white in appearance, due to the excess moisture in the area, with a red surround, due to the inflammation and itchiness of the condition.

Athlete’s foot is so called as it often (but not always) contracted by sports people, who spend a lot of time in sports socks and trainers, working out, therefore the feet can become sweaty and due to being enclosed in the socks and shoes for potentially long periods, fungus grows as it loves the condition, of warmth and sweat!

Athletes foot is easy to treat and prevent, however it must be treated, as it may not go away on its own.

There are many different preparations and treatments available for athletes foot but using essential oils could be the more natural – and certainly more pleasant – way of treating the condition.

How to use essential oils for athlete’s foot

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There are several ways of using essential oils for athletes foot;

  • Foot cream
  • Foot powder
  • Compress
  • Foot bath

Essential oils must be blended with a carrier before using on the skin and not applied directly. 

Recipes using essential oils for athlete’s foot

Foot cream

  • Amber bottle with pump
  • 50 ml Plain hand or body lotion
  • 8 drops Lavender
  • 8 drops Tea tree
  • 4 drops Cedarwood

Simply dispense the cream into the bottle, add the oils and mix.  Apply as and when needed to the area.  The cream can be massaged in, however could also be used as a foot mask – apply a thicker layer, cover with a clean pair of cotton socks and leave to absorb.  For more information and techniques on blending essential oils read here.

Foot powder

A foot powder is a good idea if you suffer with sweaty feet, or the fungal infection is particularly moist – not only will this powder help treat the infection but help to absorb any excess moisture too.

  • Clean sealed container
  • Cornstarch – makes a good, safer alternative to talc
  • Tea tree
  • Thyme
  • Bergamot

Add the corn-starch to a clean, dry container – a glass container is best – and add up to 10 drops of each essential oil. Seal the lid and shake well to combine and separate the powder particles.  Use the powder to massage into the feet regularly.

A jar of powder with small bottles of essential oils.  The best essential oils for athletes foot.


A lesser used method to treat athletes foot but a good alternative, especially if the condition is itchy, irritated or inflamed

  • Clean muslin flannels
  • Cool water
  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Thyme

Add up to 10 drops of each essential oil to a bowl of cool water.  Immerse the clean muslin cloth in the water and then apply to the affected area.  Leave for 10-15 minutes to allow the oils to have an effect, or until the area feels cooler and soothed.

3 bottles of essential oils, muslin cloths and a carafe of water.  The best essential oils for athletes foot.

Foot bath

Soaking your feet when suffering with athletes foot is a lovely way to ease, relieve and treat the condition.  You can add the essential oils directly to the water, however as oils are not water soluble they will simply float in the water.  A better option is to blend the essential oils in a carrier oil that can be added to a whole bath as well as a foot bath!

  • 50ml Sweet almond oil
  • 8 drops Thyme
  • 8 drops Bergamot
  • 4 drops Patchouli
  • 50ml Soybean oil
  • 8 drops Lavender
  • 8 drops Cedarwood
  • 4 drops Patchouli

This is a lovely relaxing blend so ideal to use for stress relief , promoting sleep and general relaxation as well as treating the athlete’s foot.

Like treating your feet? Make your own DIY essential oil foot scrub to smooth and nourish your feet.

Can essential oils help nail fungus?

Yes! All the same oils will help treat any fungal skin infection.  For a nail infection, I would suggest using the foot cream recipe – which can also be a hand cream – and massage this into the infected nail. More essential oil recipes for NAILS here.

Precautions of using essential oils for athlete’s foot

If the condition continues for a long period of time and shows no sign of improving by either using these essential oil methods or more traditional medicines, then do see your GP.

Never use essential oils neat on the skin – always blend into a carrier before application

Do not apply essential oils on bleeding or weeping skin.  Athlete’s foot can often come with broken, flaky skin, however anything more than this, proceed with caution, or seek medical advice.

Those with very sensitive skin, should proceed with caution when using essential oils.  Most essential oils are very safe for the skin, but some sensitive skins may react.  Use smaller amounts (less drops) of the oils to start with and see how your skin reacts, if you know that you suffer with sensitive skin.

Other ways of preventing athlete’s foot

Always dry the feet properly and completely after bathing or showering – especially between the toes.  Fungus loves warm, damp places to grow, so don’t give them a chance!

Change socks regularly.

Try cotton socks as much as possible – these allow the skin on your feet to breathe more, which will impede the creation of sweat.

Let your feet breathe!  If you know you are prone to athlete’s foot or you suffer with sweaty feet, go bare foot as much as possible.  Allowing fresh air to circulate around the feet, will prevent the build up of sweat, moisture or ultimately infection.

If the condition persists, please seek medical help.

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About the Author
Alison Angold is a fully qualified (certified) beauty therapist, massage therapist, and aromatherapist from the UK. She has over 25 years of experience in this industry and has worked in a variety of beauty salons, spa’s as well as running her own successful beauty and massage business. Her career has allowed her to treat many, many clients, with skincare concerns, medical conditions, and a whole variety of other ailments and issues, which has enabled her to work closely with essential oils, prescribing specific blends for these clients to help with these conditions. Her qualifications in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, allow her to share this knowledge with others, in a safe, reliable way.