Can Essential Oils Help with Fungal Issues?

Something that has recently gained immense popularity and newfound respect is essential oils. They’ve been around for a while, but recently, more people are finding them effective against a number of dermatological issues.

Primarily the term ‘essential oils’ is used to describe oils extracted from plants and herbs. Due to their antifungal and antibacterial properties, they have become a common home remedy for skin problems caused by pathogens. One such issue is fungal infections, and essential oils have proven effective in treating them.

What Are the Types of Antifungal Essential Oils?

There are two main types of antifungal essential oils: herbal and non-herbal. Both types of oil have different properties and benefits. Herbal and spice-based essential oils include (but are not limited to):

  • Holy Basil Essential
  • Frankincense Essential Oil
  • Oil of Oregano
  • Lavender Essential Oil

Non-herbal or spice-derived essential oils have also been proven to be effective against fungi and include the following:

  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Geranium Oil
  • Citronella Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil

What Fungal Infections Are They Effective Against?

While essential oils have been found to have many antimicrobial and antifungal abilities, there are some antifungals that are particularly effective. Below is a list of some of the most common infections among them:

  1. Ringworm – a fairly common fungal disease appearing as red, scaly, circular patches on the skin.
  2. Athlete’s foot – a form of ringworm infection appearing on the feet.
  3. Jock itch – another type of ringworm disease appearing in sweaty parts of the body.
  4. Toenail fungus – causes nails to become discolored (usually yellow) with streaks or spots.
  5. Tinea versicolor – people with oily skin or those going through hormonal changes are more susceptible to this fungus. It causes discoloration in the form of a tiny spot on the skin.

Anecdotal evidence shows that essential oils have proven to be highly effective against these fungal infections.

Usage and Application of Essential Oils?

Essential oils are not for internal use and should not be ingested at any cost. If anything, cases have been reported of oil poisoning in the body when an essential oil was consumed. Hence, these are for topical use only.

However, unlike other oils such as coconut or olive oil, essential oils cannot be applied directly to the skin. Due to the presence of strong chemicals, concentrated use of these oils can be harmful.

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Therefore, it is always recommended that essential oils be used after dilution with carrier oil. Common carrier oils include coconut, olive, jojoba, argan, and rosehip oil.

Essential oils should be mixed in proportion to carrier oils. So, 2-3 drops of essential oil should be diluted in about 20 drops of carrier oil. A clean cotton pad or ball can then be used to apply the mixture to the affected area.

During application, you must ensure that you only touch the affected area to avoid spreading the fungus elsewhere on the skin. Also, you should do this process regularly up to 3 times a day. It may take 2-3 weeks for you to see results.

Are There Any Side Effects to Be Wary Of?

While no serious or harmful side effects have been reported on the topical use of essential oils, you should always keep in mind that fungi can behave differently depending on their host. How your skin may react to a certain essential oil is subjective to you.

Similarly, considering your fungal condition, using the right oil is also important. Not every essential oil will be effective for every fungal infection. As is the rule for any skin product, you should always apply the oil to a small portion of a non-affected area and wait 24 hours to see if the oil suits you.

If you experience any kind of allergic reaction, stop using the oil immediately and consult your dermatologist for expert advice.

Final Thoughts

Applying essential oils to treat fungal infections has emerged as an effective practice in recent times, with more and more people using them as a convenient home remedy. However, they require a regular application and may not work in the same way for everyone.

If you do not see any results after 1-2 weeks, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor, as this may indicate that your infection needs medication to be treated properly.

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