Having smelly feet can be an embarrassing and frustrating problem. The smell is often caused by excessive sweating and bacteria growth on the feet. While good hygiene practices like washing and drying feet properly can help, sometimes extra measures are needed to combat foot odor. This is where essential oils like lavender oil come in. But does lavender oil really help get rid of smelly feet? Let’s take a closer look.
What Causes Smelly Feet?
Smelly feet are typically the result of sweat mixing with bacteria on the skin. Our feet contain more sweat glands per square inch than any other part of our body. When we sweat, it creates the perfect damp environment for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria consume the sweat and produce isovaleric acid as a byproduct, which causes the unpleasant odor. Other factors like wearing shoes and socks all day, fungal infections like athlete’s foot, poor hygiene, and some medical conditions can also contribute to excess sweat and bacteria on the feet.
How Does Lavender Oil Help With Foot Odor?
Lavender oil is extracted from the flowers of the lavender plant. It has been used for centuries for its medicinal and therapeutic properties. Lavender oil contains potent antiseptic and antimicrobial compounds like linalool and linalyl acetate. These compounds help inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi on the skin that cause foot odor.
Several studies have demonstrated lavender oil’s effectiveness against bacteria that cause foot odor:
- A 2016 study found applying lavender oil to socks helped reduce foot odor in a group of male athletes compared to placebo socks.
- Another study in 2012 showed lavender oil inactivated over 90% of the main types of bacteria that cause foot malodor within 15 minutes of application.
- Lavender oil has also been found to be effective against several types of fungi that can infect feet, including strains of Candida that cause athlete’s foot.
In addition to its antimicrobial effects, lavender oil also contains soothing compounds that can reduce inflammation and irritation on the feet. This helps minimize excessive sweat production that bacteria feed on.
Lavender oil’s pleasant floral scent also helps mask unpleasant foot odors once the bacteria have been killed off. Unlike many commercial foot odor products that just cover up smells with perfumes, lavender oil neutralizes the underlying bacteria causing bad foot smells in the first place.
How To Use Lavender Oil On Smelly Feet
Here are some easy ways to use lavender oil to combat foot odor:
Foot Soaks – Add several drops of lavender essential oil to a foot bath filled with warm water. Soak feet for 15-20 minutes to deeply cleanse and deodorize feet.
Spritzer – Make a foot spritz by mixing lavender oil with witch hazel or distilled water in a spray bottle. Spritz on clean feet and let air dry after showering. The antibacterial spray will help prevent bacteria buildup during the day.
Foot Powder – Mix lavender oil with bentonite clay and baking soda and dust on feet and in shoes to absorb moisture and odor. Arrowroot powder and cornstarch can also be used.
In Shoes – Put 2-3 drops of oil on cotton balls and place inside shoes overnight to kill bacteria and deodorize. Can also place in gym bags and lockers.
With Lotions/Creams – Add a few drops of lavender oil to unscented lotions or creams and use after washing feet to moisturize skin while fighting bacteria.
With Hydrosol – Spray or soak feet with lavender hydrosol, which contains the water-soluble compounds of lavender flowers. Has cleansing and antibacterial properties.
Other Oils – Mix lavender oil with tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint or other antimicrobial essential oils to enhance odor-fighting power on feet.
Precautions When Using Lavender Oil on Feet
Lavender oil is generally very safe for topical use on feet when used properly. However, there are a few precautions to keep in mind:
- Do a patch test on a small area of skin first to check for any allergic reactions before wider use.
- Dilute with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil to avoid skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- Avoid getting lavender oil in open cuts, wounds or burns. Can be irritating.
- Don’t use if you have an estrogen-dependent cancer like breast cancer without consulting your doctor first.
- Pregnant or nursing women should minimize use, as effects have not been fully studied.
- Keep away from eyes and mucous membranes. Will irritate.
Using lavender oil can be an effective complementary remedy for combating foot odor issues. However, see a doctor if foot odors persist despite proper hygiene and essential oil use. Certain medical conditions like hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) may require prescription-strength treatments. But in general, lavender oil is a safe, affordable, and easy way to start tackling embarrassing foot smells. Just a few drops per day can help keep feet fresh, clean and odor-free.