Using Essential Oils for Anti-Fungal issues such as Athlete’s Foot, Nail Fungus, Poison Ivy, and more – with hydrosol options

Every few days someone will ask in our safety group about remedies for athlete's foot or nail fungus. I figure it is about time I have this information all in one spot so it is easily linked to 🙂

Note: This recipe was written to answer the questions we get about athlete's foot and nail fungus, but is also my best recipe for other topical bacterial and fungal issues such as poison ivy, poison oak, and impetigo. This can also be used to help staph issues, although other protocols might also be necessary.

Tea Tree is one of my favorite essential oils, and the first one I ever used. It is anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and has many uses. It is also the best choice for fighting off athlete's foot and nail fungus.

Because athlete's foot is exacerbated by moist conditions, we want to be sure to not use an oil, which is heavy and can trap fungus. Aloe vera gel, which is water based, allows the skin to breathe as it clears up.

The Recipe

Anti-Fungal recipe
2% dilution

  1. Add the following to a 2 ounce lotion bottle:
  • 24 drops Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil
  • 2 ounces aloe vera gel (I recommend this aloe vera)

2.  Shakeshakeshake or use a glass stirring rod to mix well.

3.  Apply 1-3 times per day for best results.

Although athlete's foot and poison ivy can clear within days, nails take much longer (months), as they take so long to grow out. Be patient! Keep applying faithfully – it will pay off 🙂

In addition, you may also wish to use some anti-fungal hydrosols:

  • Neroli
  • Chamomile (Roman)
  • Tea Tree
  • Witch Hazel

Other hydrosols which can be useful:

  • Cedarwood
  • Frankincense
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Rose Geranium
  • Sandalwood
  • Yarrow


Athlete's foot and nail fungus can be embarrassing (believe me, I know!). You want to hide your feet in closed shoes and not show them off. This only makes problems worse, as the heat and moisture of sneakers and closed shoes are prime conditions for fungus.

Oxygen is enemy to fungus. As your skin heals and your nail grows out, wear flip-flops around the house and go barefoot outside. Wearing socks right after applying the Tea Tree and aloe vera is okay, as it will help keep the recipe from evaporating as quickly.

You also might consider using nail polish on your nails until it grows out. I had avoided using nail polish for over a decade now due to their chemical content, but I recently discovered some companies now make nail polish without cancer-causing chemicals. There are several options out there, but the one I am currently using is Suncoat. You can find Suncoat on amazon and on Vitacost (new customers can get a $10 coupon by clicking here).

Questions you may have about this recipe

Q: Is there something other than Tea Tree that I can use?

A: Tea Tree is the most effective essential oil for this job. I really don't recommend trying anything else.

Q: Can I use something other than aloe vera as a carrier in this recipe?

A: Aloe vera gel is the most effective carrier for this recipe, although you could also use a lotion, which is also water based. I recommend the unscented lotion from Tropical Traditions.

Q: Can I make a stronger dilution?

A: You can use a 5% dilution for the first several days to a week, and then cut back to 2% if you wish.

Q: Is this recipe safe for use during pregnancy?

A: Yes. For more information on essential oil safety during pregnancy read: Essential Oils and Pregnancy.

Q: Is this recipe safe for use if I breastfeed?

A: Yes. For more information on essential oil safety during pregnancy read: Essential Oils and Breastfeeding.

Q: Is this recipe safe for use on children?

A: All of the essential oils are safe for use on children, but I would probably knock the dilution down to 1% (half this recipe, or add twice as much carrier oil). For more information on essential oil safety with children read: Essential Oils and Children.

Q: What essential oil brands do you recommend for this recipe?

A: I personally use several different brands of essential oils with great results (you can find my opinion in this BRANDS file, which can be accessed only from Using Essential Oils Safely facebook group members). You can use whatever brand you have on hand, as long as the Latin names match 🙂

Want to learn more? View our website index here.

Have a question or comment? Leave it below, ask in our Facebook group, or e-mail Lea.

Lea Harris is a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist Scholar's Program graduate from Aromahead Institute. This website is home to educational advice and information about using essential oils safely. Lea founded and runs the Using Essential Oils Safely facebook group, with hundreds of new members joining each week. Lea is the author of The TRUTH About Essential Oil Safety, and the creator of Safe Essential Oil Labels and apps for essential oils and carriers. You can find FREE classes here: Free Essential Oil Classes.

Lea is Professional level member of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and received her herbalist certification through The Herbal Academy of New England.

Businesses, groups, and individuals can hire Lea to consult on safety, product formulation, and more on her website Lea Harris CCA.



Leave a Reply