21 Home Remedies for Foot Fungus, Nail Fungus & Athlete’s Foot

Bothered by redness, itching and peeling of the skin on your foot?

It’s possible that you have a fungal infection called athlete’s foot.

The most common cause of this problem is Trichophyton rubrum, which like other fungi, also thrive best in moist and warm areas [1, 2].

Athletes who use public locker rooms and showers are the usual victims of this infection, hence the name [2].

It is annoying and highly contagious, and should therefore be controlled immediately with the use of these safe but effective natural remedies.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • 21 home remedies to get rid foot fungus fast
  • How to prepare and use natural remedies for foot fungus

RELATED: 12 Home Remedies for Nail Fungus that are Simple Yet Effective

21 Home Remedies for Foot Fungus

Below listed are 21 natural home remedies for athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, etc.

1. Tea Tree Oil

In Australia, many people use tea tree oil as a “topical therapeutic agent” [3].

Although its uses are countless, tea tree oil is most popular as a natural fungicide [4, 5, 6, 7].

Because it demonstrates antifungal properties against Trichophyton rubrum, it has been considered an effective way to get rid of foot fungus [7].

This was confirmed in two studies that were both published in the Australian Journal of Dermatology [8, 9].

The one conducted in 1992 showed that out of the 104 participants with athlete’s foot, those who used tea tree oil reported a significant reduction in symptoms such as itching, burning sensation, inflammation and scaling [8].

The other one reported that twice daily application of 25 percent and 50 percent tea tree oil resulted in remarkable improvement in the overall condition [9].

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the oils.
  • Use the oil mixture to massage your feet.
  • Be sure to massage also the areas between the toes.
  • Repeat remedy twice a day until infection clears.

2. Olive Oil

Olive oil, a staple in the Mediterranean diet, is said to be one of the reasons why people who maintain this diet are less prone to heart disease and high cholesterol [10].

Experts believe that it is due to olive oil’s chemical composition, which is made up primarily of oleic acid, a type of fatty acid, as well as a load of other antioxidants [10].

Now, apart from keeping deadly diseases at bay, olive oil can also be used to resolve less serious issues such as foot fungus.

Several studies suggest the olive oil has antifungal properties that work against Trichophyton rubrum [11, 12, 13].

What olive oil does is suppress both the growth and spread of fungus, and prevent them from causing infection.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • After washing your feet, pat it dry.
  • Apply olive oil all over the feet and toes.
  • Leave it on for one hour before rinsing with warm water.
  • Do this remedy twice a day for one week.

RELATED: How to Use Olive Oil for Skin Health Boost

3. Garlic

An herb widely recognized for its long list of medicinal benefits, garlic is used to protect against heart disease, lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, fight bacterial infections, prevent cancer, and many more [14].

As if all these are not enough, garlic can also put an end to your annoying foot fungus problem.

Research published in the Canadian Journal of Botany reports that garlic contains a potent antifungal agent called ajoene [15].

Ajoene was found to have the ability to inhibit the germination of spores of various types of fungi [15].

In 2000, a group of scientists from Venezuela assessed the efficacy of ajoene as a natural short-term treatment for athlete’s foot [16].

It was discovered that twice daily application of this substance was enough to cure the infection within one week [16].

Its efficacy was compared to terbinafine, a commonly prescribed antifungal medication for foot fungus [16].

While terbinafine had a remarkable success rate of 94 percent, ajoene was even more amazing, treating 100 percent of the cases [16].

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Soak garlic in olive oil.
  • Place each clove in between the toes.
  • Wait for 30 minutes before removing.
  • Rinse your feet using warm water.
  • Follow this treatment twice a day for one week.

4. Coriander Oil

Folk healers have long used coriander oil as an antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory agent, among many others [17].

This multi-purpose medicinal oil remains a viable solution for many ailments up to this day.

It is also a good remedy for fungal infections such as those affecting the foot.

German scientists examined the effects of coriander oil on people who have fungal infections in the spaces between their toes [18].

A total of 40 participants, mostly males, joined the study, and were given either 6 percent coriander oil or a placebo [18].

Results obtained from this study reveal that application of this oil twice daily led to a significant improvement in the condition [18].

Not only did the number of fungal cultures decreased, alleviation of symptoms of infection was also reported among coriander oil users [18].

It’s also important to note that the oil did not cause any side effects, and was very well tolerated by the patients [18].

What You’ll Need:

Recommended Directions:

  • Add coriander oil to almond oil.
  • Blend well.
  • Apply solution on the feet and toes.
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes before wiping it off.
  • Do this technique once a day until condition improves.

5. Oregano Oil

Another essential oil highly regarded for its broad spectrum of medicinal properties is oregano oil.

It is one of the oils that have been found to have the strongest antimicrobial effects on bacteria and fungi, according to a 2003 study that can be found in the Current Medicinal Chemistry Journal [19].

This conclusion was reached after scientists reviewed over 500 reports that investigated the bactericidal and fungicidal activities of various essential oils with the use of agar diffusion method and dilution method [19].

A study conducted in Brazil found that oregano oil can efficiently inhibit the growth and survival of various pathogenic fungi including Trichophyton rubrum [20].

At a concentration of 80 µL/mL, oregano successfully killed 100 percent of the fungal strains by stopping their radial mycelia growth [20].

Researchers therefore recommend the use of this oil in controlling fungal infections such as athlete’s foot [20].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of oregano oil
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the ingredients.
  • Put a small amount on the affected foot.
  • Massage foot gently for 15 minutes.
  • Do this everyday for one week.

RELATED: 9 Reasons to Use Coconut Oil for Nails Immediately

6. Sunflower Oil

According to WebMD, the oil extracted from sunflower seeds has various medicinal purposes.

It is typically used to lower cholesterol levels, alleviate arthritis, heal wounds, and relieve skin injuries.

There’s also sufficient evidence to believe that it can work on athlete’s foot.

Research suggests that topical application of sunflower oil on the foot twice daily for six weeks works just as well as ketoconazole in treating foot fungus [21].

Ketoconazole is a popular antifungal treatment that most people use for various fungus-related skin issues.

With its “remarkable germicidal action”, sunflower oil led to a cure of up 81 percent for this fungal infection [21].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup of sunflower oil
  • 1 basin of warm water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add sunflower oil to water.
  • Soak both feet in basin of water for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat twice daily for one week.

7. Bitter Orange Oil

Unlike its more well-known citrus counterparts orange and lemon, there’s limited research done on the pharmacological effects of bitter orange.

However, experts do know and have proven that this citrus fruit can help in weight management and cancer prevention [22, 23].

To evaluate bitter orange’s efficacy in treating fungal infections, researchers examined 60 patients with athlete’s foot and divided them into three groups [24].

The first group was given a 25 percent emulsion of bitter orange oil three times a day, the second group was asked to use 20 percent bitter orange oil in alcohol three times a day, and the third group was treated with pure bitter orange oil once a day [24].

As shown in the study findings, 80 percent of the patients from the first group were cured after one to two weeks, the rest after two to three weeks [24].

In the second group, half were cured within one to two weeks, and the rest within two to four weeks, and in the third group, 60 percent of the patients recovered from the fungal infection within one to two weeks [24].

These results show that in different doses, this oil is highly effective in combating fungal infections as quickly as one week [24].

Apart from being effective, it was also safe and highly tolerated by the patients. No side effects were reported except for minor skin irritation in the third group that used the undiluted form of bitter orange oil [24].

Researchers refer to bitter orange oil as a “promising, cheap and available topical antifungal therapeutic agent” [24].

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 drops of bitter orange oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Dilute bitter orange oil in olive oil.
  • Slather mixture on the affected foot.
  • Rinse with warm water after 30 minutes.
  • Repeat once a day until symptoms subside.

8. Onion

Many studies had been done to assess the efficacy of onion as treatment for infections caused by Trichophyton rubrum and other harmful microbes [25, 26, 27, 28].

Most yielded positive results, suggesting that onion should be used to relieve athlete’s foot and other similar conditions.

A study conducted in Tehran, Iran reported that onion disrupted the growth and spread of fungi [27].

It worked by targeting and breaking down the both the inner and outer cell membranes of the fungi [27].

Researchers also suggest that onion can work more efficiently when used in combination with ketoconazole [28].

A series of disk diffusion and checkerboard titer tests reveals that onion produces a synergistic antifungal activity when paired with this anti-fungal medication [28].

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 3 cups of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Transfer water to a bowl.
  • Put onions in water.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
  • Strain onions.
  • Pour the solution in a basin.
  • Soak your feet in the solution for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat everyday for one week.

9. Cinnamon

For thousands of years, cinnamon has been used as a spice and as a natural remedy [29].

Ayurvedic healers relied on this for treatment of flatulence, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea [29].

At present, it is still used for various minor infections including athlete’s foot.

Several studies confirm its fungicidal effects on Trichophyton rubrum and other dermatophytes [30, 31, 32].

In one study that compared the antifungal activities of numerous essential oils, it was reported that the active compound in cinnamon called cinnamaldehyde was significantly stronger than clove oil’s eugenol [30].

Cinnamaldehyde reduced activities of fungal cells by 70 to 96 percent, preventing them from invading healthy skin cells [30].

In another study, researchers explain that while almost all of its parts—the leaves, branches, bark and oil—worked against fungal strains, it’s the essential oil that’s the most active [32].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 5 drops of cinnamon oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine ingredients to make a paste.
  • Apply paste in between the toes.
  • Massage for 15 minutes.
  • Repeat technique twice a day until itchiness and other symptoms disappear.

10. Turmeric

Long before turmeric’s coloring pigment curcumin was isolated in the 19th century to be studied for its pharmacological effects, this rhizome was already being used as a folk remedy for various ailments [33].

Today, people still depend on turmeric for treating many health problems including fungal infections.

Turmeric’s fungicidal effects have been well-established in scientific literature [34, 35, 36, 37, 38].

A 2000 study reveals that curcumin can inhibit 15 isolates of dermatophytes including Trichophyton rubrum [38].

Its inhibitory effects also worked on different types of molds and yeasts [38].

For those with foot fungal infections, you can get quick relief from turmeric, as it has been recorded in the study that the infection subsided after two to five days, and cleared completely within one week [38].

Like most of the remedies mentioned here, this one is also safe and can be used repeatedly without having to worry about side effects.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix turmeric powder and water.
  • Apply paste all over the feet and toes.
  • Follow remedy once a day for five to six days.

11. Carom Seed Oil

A highly potent traditional medicine, carom seed oil is widely used in India as a stimulant, carminative, and antispasmodic [39].

Its vast pharmacological properties have been proven effective in resolving diarrhea, bronchial problems, dyspepsia, piles, abdominal pain, asthma, high blood pressure, and many others [39].

The presence of several phytochemicals such as thymol, alpha-pinene and beta-pinene contributes to these therapeutic effects [39].

If carom seed oil can put an end to these problems, it’s no surprise that it can also treat fungal infection of the foot.

A 2006 study that was conducted in India stated that this oil has strong antifungal effects against different strains of dermatophytes including those that cause athlete’s foot [40].

At one percent concentration, this oil was able to completely heal up to 70 percent of the patients with fungal infections while the rest showed great improvement in their condition [40].

And because this remedy did not produce any adverse effects even after long term use, it is recommended as a safe and effective treatment for different types of fungal infections [40].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of carom seed oil
  • 1 teaspoon of almond oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Put the two oils in a bowl.
  • Mix well.
  • Apply a thin layer of the oil blend on your foot.
  • Massage gently for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Leave it on for one hour before rinsing with warm water.
  • Pat it dry completely.
  • Use this technique twice a day for one to two weeks.

12. Neem

The therapeutic efficacy of neem has been recognized by traditional healers for centuries [41].

It has also been established in scientific literature for a long time now [41].

Neem seed extract is capable of lowering fever, promoting fertility, treating diabetes and healing ulcers [41].

This remedy has also been found to have antifungal effects against different clinical isolates of dermatophytes including Trichophyton rubrum [41].

At 15µg/mL concentration, this extract has the ability to “distort the growth pattern of these fungal species” [41].

Using this remedy will solve this problem and help you eliminate the infection permanently.

What You’ll Need:

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine neem and jojoba oil.
  • Mix well.
  • Spread a few drops of the oil blend on the foot.
  • Make sure it covers the entire foot including the spaces between the toes.
  • Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Rinse with warm water.
  • Pat it dry with a clean towel.
  • Do this procedure several times a day until infection is gone.

13. Cinnamon Oil

It’s not just the sweet aroma that you’ll love about cinnamon.

Cinnamon is also a proven remedy for a wide array of ailments, including skin fungal infections.

In fact, a 2006 study reported that cinnamon’s active compounds have “excellent inhibitory effect” against fungi [42].

Cinnamaldehyde was among the active compounds in cinnamon that had the strongest fungicidal properties [43].

Not only did it prevent the fungi’s activities, it also suppressed their growth and spread [44].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of cinnamon oil
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine cinnamon oil and olive oil.
  • Massage your infected foot with this mixture.
  • Leave it on for one hour.
  • Wipe with clean towel.

14. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has been linked to various health benefits.

Some say that it can help lower blood sugar levels, aid in weight loss, reduce cholesterol, detoxify the bodily systems, and promote better digestion.

One of the natural remedies for athlete’s foot recommended by Earth Clinic is apple cider vinegar.

It is a quick way to tone down swelling, pain, and itching, which are all common symptoms of foot fungus.

Its antifungal properties kill the source of infection, and prevent it from coming back.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups of warm water

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix water and apple cider vinegar.
  • Soak your foot in the mixture for 15 minutes twice a day.
  • Repeat everyday until infection is cured.

RELATED: How Effective is Apple Cider Vinegar for Ringworm Treatment?

15. Snow Gum Oil

Eucalyptus pauciflora, more commonly known as snow gum, may not be as widely used folk remedy as other herbs.

However, there’s scientific evidence that shows that oil extracted from this plant has potent antifungal properties that can work well for people with athlete’s foot and other skin fungal infections [45].

Researchers recommend that further studies be done to explore snow gum oil’s potential as an antifungal treatment.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of snow gum oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Spread a thin layer of snow gum oil on your foot.
  • Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  • Wipe off with clean towel.
  • Repeat the treatment twice daily.

16. Cornstarch

People who suffer from athlete’s foot are encouraged to keep their feet dry as fungus thrives well in moist and wet areas.

A good way to keep the feet dry is with the use of cornstarch, which does a great job absorbing moisture.

In fact, a cornstarch based treatment for athlete’s foot was found to be highly effective, as revealed in a study published in the Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey [46].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • Antifungal soap

Recommended Directions:

  • Wash your feet with antifungal soap.
  • Rinse well.
  • Sprinkle cornstarch powder on your feet.
  • Be sure to cover the whole area, including the spaces between the toes.
  • Let it sit for 1 hour before dusting it off.
  • Repeat two to three times a day until infection is treated.

17. Lemon

A practical strategy for foot fungus recommended by Huffington Post is the use of a lemon rinse.

It helps by neutralizing the activities of microorganisms that cause infection.

Moreover, it’s an excellent deodorizer that minimizes unpleasant smell brought about by foot fungus.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 8 cups of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Dilute lemon juice in water.
  • Soak your feet in this mixture for 15 minutes.
  • Do this twice a day for one to two weeks.
  • Add baking soda to water.
  • Drink twice a day for one week.

RELATED: Lemon Juice for Acne : 8 Simple Home Remedies

18. Basil Oil

One of the most frequently used herbs both in cooking and in traditional medicine is basil.

Many love it for the unique minty flavor and aroma that it adds to dishes.

It should also be noted that this oil has profound positive effects on people’s health.

Basil is touted for its diverse medicinal properties including antifungal activities [47, 48].

In a study that can be found in the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, it was revealed that basil has moderate antifungal activities against dermatophytes that cause athlete’s foot [49].

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of basil oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix basil oil and olive oil.
  • Use this mixture to massage your infected foot.
  • Follow this remedy once a day for several weeks.

19. Lavender Oil

Lavender is the go-to essential oil for people who are constantly burnt out mentally and emotionally.

Did you know that you can also use this oil to cure athlete’s foot?

This oil is said to have fungicidal properties that are highly active against fungal strains that cause this particular type of infection.

This has been proven in several studies done over the years [50, 51].

Researchers from the United Kingdom found that this oil has synergistic effects with tea tree oil [52].

The two oils in combination even have stronger anti-dermatophyte actions [53].

What You’ll Need:

  • 10 drops of lavender oil
  • 1 basin of warm water

Recommended Directions:

  • Add lavender oil to a basin of warm water.
  • Soak your feet in the basin for one hour.
  • Afterwards, dry your feet thoroughly with a clean towel.
  • Apply cornstarch.
  • Repeat the treatment twice daily to get rid of athlete’s foot fast.

20. Yogurt

Yogurt is a probiotic dairy food that is produced by fermenting milk. Yogurt cultures bacteria ferments the lactose of milk and transforms it into lactic acid. The compound gives unique texture and tart taste of yogurt.

Yogurt as a superb probiotic has impressive health benefits. Traditionally yogurt is a home remedy for stomach disorders. A topical application of yogurt has fungicidal effects on athlete’s foot. Here’s a natural remedy for foot fungus using yogurt. In this home remedy we will use saccharomyces boulardi capsule. This is an active yeast compound that fights harmful fungi.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 capsule of saccharomyces boulardii
  • Cotton ball

Recommended Directions:

  1. Mix yogurt with saccharomyces boulardii and form a paste.
  2. Apply the paste on the fungi affected skin area using a cotton ball.
  3. Leave it for 30 minutes than rinse off.
  4. Repeat the treatment thrice daily.

21. Myrrh Essential Oil

Myrrh is a resin that comes from myrrh tree. Herbaceous and woody flavored myrrh oil originates from the distillation of these resins.

From ancient time on myrrh has an important place in medical and spiritual spheres. Myrrh essential oil is rich with antiseptic, astringent, antifungal, and analgesic properties. (13)

If you massage this oil topically or use it for a foot bath, it can moisten and purify your feet. It can promote the growth of new tissues and give you a youthful skin.

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 drops of myrrh oil
  • 1 liter of warm water

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix 8 drops of myrrh oil in 1 liter of lukewarm water.
  • Dip your feet on the solution for 15 minutes.
  • Repeat the process twice a day to treat athlete’s foot.

Bottom Line

Foot fungus or athlete’s foot can be an embarrassing problem.

If you’re suffering from this fungal infection, resolve it right away using these home remedies, which are all effective and safe to use.

When using essential oils for foot fungus, see to it that you dilute them first in carrier oil or water to avoid skin irritation.

Although generally safe, essential oils cannot be used topically in pure form.

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