Antifungal Essential Oils

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Essential oils are found in the flowers, bark, fruits, stems, and leaves of a plant. They give plants their unique aroma and they are packed with compounds and antioxidants that give them healing properties. They are extracted by a process of steam distillation.

What role do oils play in plants?

What role do oils play in plants?

One of the main roles essential oils play in plants is to ensure their survival by repelling predators like insects, and by attracting insects that will aid with pollination. It is the compounds called terpenes in essential oils which tend to act as natural repellents. They also stop other competing plants growing too close to them. The oils are stored in the tiny hairs and cells on plants which lie on the surface of the plant’s skin.

How to Use Essential Oils

How Are Essential Oils Used?

But it’s not just the plants that benefit from essential oils, they bring us many health benefits too. Here’s the main ways that you can use essential oils to boost your health:

As a Massage Oil

Massage Oil

Essential oils are widely used in massage. Oils should always be diluted with a suitable carrier oil prior to use so as to avoid causing a skin reaction. Oils are absorbed very easily by the skin, and massage boosts the circulation, so it helps to disperse the oils throughout the body to bring about health benefits. Massage with essential oils is useful for stress, headaches, boosting immunity, relieving muscle tension and much more.

As an Addition to Your Facial Cream

Foxbrim Vitamin C Lotion, SPF not rated, 3.4 Ounces

Certain oils are excellent for use on particular skin types. Oils like rose and chamomile are excellent for dry and sensitive skin, whereas tea tree oil is great at balancing oil and acne prone skin. Oils can also be used to heal skin wounds, reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks, and in anti-ageing applications.

As a Bath Oil

PMS Bath Blend Recipe

Add up to 12 drops of your chosen oil to your bath and mix well into the water. This is a great way to reduce stress, relieve muscle aches, boost your mood, relax you, and boost your circulation. Always rinse your bath well in case the oils leave the tub slippery.

Steam Inhalation

Steam Inhalation Recipe Method

This is very effective for treating respiratory or sinus infections, and congestion from colds. Put up to 7 drops of oil into hot water, cover your head with a towel, close your eyes, and inhale the vapour. Try eucalyptus oil, lemon oil, or tea tree oil.

As an Aromatic Spray

Use the Oil in a Spray Bottle

Combine essential oil with water to create a spray that can freshen a room, freshen linen, boost your mood, and even clean household surfaces. Add 10-15 drops of oil to some water in a spray bottle and shake well.


Do-it-yourself Essential Oil Inhaler

Inhalation is generally a very effective way to use essential oils as oils are carried into the body through the lungs to boost health, and they are also carried to a part of the brain which governs mood and memory, by scent receptors in the nose. You can inhale essential oils directly from the bottle, from the palm of your hand,  from a handkerchief or cotton wool ball, or you can make smelling salts. When inhaling an oil straight from the bottle, create a blend of 3-4 complementary oils and put the mixture in a small bottle. Waft the bottle under your nose and inhale deeply. Repeat this 3-4 times per day.

If you choose to inhale oils from a handkerchief or cotton wool ball, apply 2-4 drops of oil on the handkerchief or cotton wool ball, hold it in your hands, and take 2-3 deep inhalations. Repeat this 2-3 times per day.

To create smelling salts, create a blend of 3-5 complementary oils and use 20-30 drops of oil altogether. Put the oil into a bottle, and fill the rest of the bottle up with sea salt (coarse or fine salts both work). Waft the bottle under your nose and inhale deeply. Do this 3-4 times per day, or more often as needed.

You can also put essential oils into a diffuser, so that the aroma can disperse throughout a room. This is effective for calming or uplifting your mood, or for promoting healthy sleep.

Fungal Infections

Common fungal infections of the skin

There are approximately 1.5 million different types of fungi, but only about 300 of those are known to make people sick.

If you have ever had a condition like thrush, or athlete’s foot, a fungus is to blame. Fungi live in the air, in soil, on plants, and in water, and some live in the human body.

Some fungi can reproduce in the air or on your skin, that is why fungal infections of the skin or in the lungs are very common.

Common Fungal Infections of the Skin

Fungal infections of the skin are very common and include athlete’s foot, ringworm, and yeast infections such as thrush.

Athlete’s Foot

It Can Combat Athlete's Foot

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a fungal infection of the foot. It causes symptoms such as peeling, redness, itching, burning, and sometimes blisters.

Athlete’s foot is very common. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments such as shoes, socks, swimming pools, changing rooms, and shower floors.

What causes athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is caused by a fungus that lives on dead tissue of the hair, toenails, and outer layers of the skin. There are 4 types of fungus that can cause athlete’s foot. The most common type is called Trichophyton rubrum.

What are the symptoms of athlete’s foot?

Common symptoms of the condition include:

Peeling, cracking, and scaling of the feet

Redness, blisters, or softening and breaking of the skin

Itching or burning sensation.

Types of athlete’s foot

Types of athlete's foot


Calm the Fire in your Feet

This is also known as toe web infection and it’s the most common kind of athlete’s foot. It often occurs between the 2 smallest toes. This type can cause itching, burning, and scaling of the skin. The infection can also spread to other parts of the foot.


Essential Oils for Itchy Feet

This type of athlete’s foot begins with a minor irritation, dryness, itching, or scaly skin. As it develops, the skin can thicken and crack. This infection can cover the entire sole of the foot and spread onto the sides of the foot.


Essential Oil Blends for itchy Skin and Pruritis

This is the least common type of athlete’s foot. This type usually begins with an outbreak of fluid-filled blisters under the skin. The blisters tend to develop on the underside of the foot, but they can also appear between the toes, on the heel, or on the top of the foot.

How is athlete’s foot diagnosed?

Types of athlete's foot

A doctor will usually take a scraping of the skin and look at it under the microscope to identify a fungus.

Athlete’s foot is treated with topical antifungal creams, sprays, or lotions, though some severe cases require oral drug treatment.

How can you prevent athlete’s foot?

How can you prevent athlete’s foot?

You can prevent athlete’s foot by wearing footwear in shower areas, wearing shoes that let your feet breathe, and by washing your feet each day with soap and water. Make sure you dry your feet thoroughly.  


Treats ringworm

Ringworm is also known as tinea corporis. It’s not actually a worm, it’s a fungal infection of the skin.  It can appear on any area of the body and it appears in the form of a circular, red, flat sore. It is often accompanied by scaly skin. The outer part of the sore is often raised while the skin in the middle appears normal. Ringworm can look unpleasant but it’s not usually serious.

Ringworm can be spread by direct contact with infected people or animals. Heat and humidity may also help to spread the infection.

How is ringworm diagnosed?

A doctor can diagnose ringworm based on the appearance of the rash or the associated symptoms. The doctor may take samples or scrapings from the skin to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for ringworm usually consists of antifungal medications that are applied topically to the skin. Effective over the counter creams include:

  • Lamisil
  • Micatin
  • Lotrimin
  • Mycelex

Prescription topical or oral drugs can be prescribed for more severe cases of the condition.

Yeast Infections

Killing of Candida Virus

Yeast infections of the skin are caused by yeast-like fungi called candida. They occur when yeast on the skin grows more excessively and causes a red, scaly, itchy rash on the skin. Yeast infections are not contagious.

Yeast infections may occur anywhere on the body, but they are most likely to occur in warm, moist areas where there are skin creases, such as the armpits and the groin.

Candida is especially common among people who are obese or who have diabetes. People taking antibiotics are also at risk because they upset the balance of good bacteria in the body.

Candida can cause nappy rash in infants and they can also cause infections of the nail. Oral thrush is a yeast infection that occurs in the mouth. Candida can also cause vaginal yeast infections.

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?

essential oils for yeast infection

In the skin folds:

  • Rash
  • Patches that ooze clear fluid
  • Pimple-like bumps
  • Itching or burning

In the nail beds:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Pus
  • White or yellow nail that separates from the nail bed
  • White patches on tongue and inside of the cheeks
  • Pain
  • Signs of vaginal yeast infection include:
  • White or yellow discharge from the vagina
  • Itching
  • Redness in the external area of the vagina
  • Burning

How are yeast infections diagnosed?

When to seek medical advice:

Your doctor will ask you some questions and do a physical exam. They may take a skin scraping to confirm the diagnosis.

The infection is treated according to the specific type that you have. They are usually treated effectively with medicated creams. Vaginal yeast infections can be treated with suppositories or creams. Oral thrush can be treated with medicated lozenges or mouthwash. Severe infections are usually treated with oral medications, especially in people who have a weak immune system.

The Most Effective Essential Oils for Fungal Infections 


Lavender Oil

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Lavender - (Lavandula Angustifolia)

Scientific research has found that Lavender Oil can kill some fungal strains, including candida and dermatophytes, two known causes fungal nail, hair, and skin infections. Lavender Oil is extracted from the Lavandula species of the Lavender plant which has been used for centuries due to its pleasant aroma. It is a common ingredient in perfumes and skin care products. Lavender oil has potent antifungal properties that can prove effective against stubborn antifungal infections. Lavender disrupts the multiplication of fungal cells.

Dilute Lavender oil with a suitable carrier oil like coconut or olive oil before applying it topically on the affected area of skin.

Tea Tree Oil

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tea tree oil

Tea Tree Oil has been used for centuries as a treatment for many health conditions. Tea Tree Oil’s antifungal properties were scientifically proven in a study carried out in 2008. The oil was found to inhibit the growth of Candida cells. Tea tree contains Terpenoid, which is an antifungal compound, that can be used against other fungal infections like ringworm, toenail fungus, and athlete’s foot. dermatitis, and jock itch. Tea tree oil has also been proven to fight other viruses and bacterial infections, and its antiseptic properties make it ideal for use on cuts and abrasions. Tea tree is a very potent oil and it should never be used neat, especially on sensitive skin. To use Tea Tree Oil for yeast infection, dilute the Oil with Olive Oil and rub the mixture on the infected area at least 3 times per day. Continue until the infection has cleared. Keep the oil away from the ears, nose, and eyes.

Lemongrass Oil

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Lemongrass Oil

The main components of the oil are Myrcene, Geranyl Acetate, Citronellal, Nerol, Neral, Geraniol, Limonene, and Citral. Lemongrass has potent therapeutic properties, which make it an effective remedy for many health conditions. It works efficiently against both internal infections like ringworm and external infections like athlete’s foot. Lemongrass oil is one of the best essential oils for toenail fungus.

Research conducted in 2014 evaluated the antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties of Lemongrass oil. The oil was studied for its effects on different fungi and yeasts. It was found to work against several forms of candida. It was also proven that the oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Lemongrass is also an excellent antibacterial agent and can inhibit the activities of bacteria and harmful microbes in the body.

Although Lemongrass is a mild oil, diluting with a carrier oil makes it safer to use, as some citrus based oils can cause sensitivity. Dilute 3 drops of Lemongrass oil with one tablespoon of carrier oil before applying it topically on the affected area. Repeat this every 2 hours. If you feel any skin irritation, dilute the oil further with the carrier oil. It will not make it less effective. Do not use this oil during pregnancy.

Cinnamon Bark Oil

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Cinnamon Essential Oil

This oil has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antifungal properties that can prove fatal to fungal infections. It is not just a potent antifungal oil, it also helps to increase the body’s immunity to infections.

Cinnamon Bark oil is very potent and should never be used undiluted or inhaled directly from the bottle. Ensure you dilute it with a carrier oil before applying it topically. Many people have reported cases of nasal irritation after inhaling cinnamon bark oil.

Clove Oil

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Clove Essential Oil

This is one of the best essential oils for candida and yeast infections. According to research, clove oil was found to inhibit the growth of up to 15 different strains of fungi, including Candida. Another study conducted in 2010 found that eugenol, the main compound in love oil works effectively against candida. Clove oil can also be used for oral health conditions like tooth infections.

Before topically applying this oil, dilute it with a suitable carrier oil. Apply it on the affected area several times daily.

Manuka Oil

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Although not as commonly used for fungal infections as the other oils, Manuka Oil is a natural antimicrobial.

Studies have found that manuka oil has potent antimicrobial and antifungal properties that work efficiently for treating many health conditions. A study done in 2010 compared the therapeutic properties of manuka oil with tea tree oil and kanuka oil. Its antifungal effects were lower, compared to that of tea tree oil, but Manuka Oil had the most potent antibacterial and antioxidant properties of the oils so it’s worth a try.

Manuka Oil can be used to treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot, candida, toenail fungus, and dandruff. Dilute the oil with shampoo, water, or a carrier oil, depending on the reason you’re using it, and apply it to the affected area.

Coconut Oil

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The Ultimate Guide to Scientifically-Backed Coconut Oil Uses

Coconut oil is more of a carrier oil than an essential oil, but it has antifungal properties which means it is effective for yeast infections. The lauric acid in coconut oil gives it its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Apply the oil on any infected areas.

Other good antifungal oils to try include Oregano, Thyme, Geranium, Cassia, Lemon, Clary Sage, and Frankincense.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.