Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts, which have been in use for many years. They are extracted from different parts of plants such as flowers, bark, leaves, and roots. Essential oils are mostly used to make perfumes, fragrances, and food spices. But did you know that you can use essential oils to treat various foot ailments and keep your feet healthy? Well, here are some tips on how you can use essential oils for foot care.
Relieve Pains and Aches
Muscle pains, cramps, and aches are common foot problems for most people. They can occur due to intense physical activities, wearing wrong footwear or prolonged standing. Massaging your feet with essential oils can provide relief against these aches and pains. When you massage your feet with essential oils like rosemary, eucalyptus, or lavender, the biochemical compounds that are present in these oils will penetrate your skin, thus helping the muscles to relax. Also, rubbing your feet with essential oils will promote blood circulation, which will promote the removal of waste materials from the leg tissues while ensuring the same tissues are well-nourished. Therefore, if you have been experiencing pain on your feet after a long day at work, massaging them with essential oils will help your feet to relax, and alleviate that discomfort.
Inflammation is how your body’s immune system responds to an injured area. Apart from helping the body to repair and heal the damaged tissue, your body will also use inflammation to defend itself against disease-causing pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Without inflammation, wounds would take longer to heal while infections may become deadly. In most cases, inflammation will disappear on its own, without any intervention. However, it may sometimes go on longer than expected, leading to various complications. The good news is that you don’t require sophisticated or expensive medical procedures to clear chronic inflammation. A simple foot massage using essential oils is an effective method of treating inflammation. Essential oils like peppermint, lemongrass, black pepper, lavender, roman rosemary, birch, and eucalyptus are rich sources of antioxidants, which can help to clear inflammation.
Alleviate Foot Edema
Edema is a medical condition characterized by swelling of a part of the body. It’s caused by the retention of excessive fluids under the skin. The swelling might sometimes be accompanied by pain, itching, and discoloration of the skin, among other symptoms. Some of the main causes of foot edema include standing on one spot for many hours, hot weather, and consuming foods with excessive amounts. Pregnant women also tend to experience this condition at some point in their pregnancy, due to the additional amount of weight that the legs and feet have to bear. Some medications can also lead to swelling on the legs and feet. Soaking your feet in a footbath containing essential oils can help to provide some relief. Apart from using a footbath, you can also apply a combination of different essential oils in the swollen area. Some of the essential oils that you can use to alleviate edema or swollen feet include lemon essential oil, eucalyptus, peppermint, chamomile essential oil and wintergreen. Other essential oils that you can use are juniper, tea tree, thyme, and rosemary.
Remove Corns and Calluses
Corns and calluses are thick, hard areas of the skin, which form when the skin is subjected to excessive friction or pressure. While they can form on any part of the body, they are mostly found on the feet. Running or walking around with ill-fitting shoes is one of the main causes of these foot conditions. Also, wearing shoes without socks can also lead to corns and calluses, especially if those shoes have firm or rough interior materials. Food conditions like scoliosis, as well as abnormal bone structure, can also lead to corns and calluses. While there are several over the counter creams and ointments that you can use to remove corns and calluses, they are not as effective as you would want them to be, besides being costly. And this is where essential oils come in. Essential oils provide a cost-effective and easy means of removing corns and calluses – not to mention they will leave your feet smelling great. Tea tree, oregano, and lavender are some of the essential oils that you can use to treat corns and calluses.
Treat and Prevent Fungal Infections
Unless you work from home, you will be spending most of your time wearing shoes. If you fail to observe proper foot hygiene, you might end up with a wide range of fungal infections like jock itch, ringworm, athlete’s feet, as well as toenail fungus, among others. These fungal infections should be treated as early as possible, to prevent further complications. Essential oils are a powerful method for treating and preventing fungal infections. Some of the options that you can consider include:
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree essential oil is renowned for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Therefore, you can use it to kill the fungus that has led to your foot infections. You can either soak your feet in a bath that contains diluted tea tree oil or rub diluted tea tree oil directly on the affected area.
- Lemon: Lemon essential oil also contains anti-fungal properties, which means you can use it to treat and prevent fungal infections. Massaging your feet with lemon essential oil will also boost blood circulation.
- Cinnamon essential oil: Extracted from the bark of the cinnamon tree, this essential oil has proven to be highly effective when it comes to fighting foot infections like toenail fungus. It will kill the fungus present on the foot and prevent further infection. Also, it will help to maintain a drier nail area.
- Lavender: Lavender is arguably one of the most popular essential oils in use today. It can help to improve stress relief, provide relaxation and help to fight various skin conditions. You can either mix lavender essential oil with lotion and then apply it onto the affected area, or apply it directly after mixing it with a carrier oil. After that, you should wear a clean pair of socks and then allow your feet to relax.
When applying the essential oils directly, make sure you only touch the area of the skin that has the fungal infection, to prevent spreading it further to other unaffected areas. You should apply the essential oils at thrice twice per day for a couple of weeks, to speed up healing and recovery.
Precautions and Tips when Using Essential Oils
As much as essential oils can benefit your feet in several ways, they can also be harmful if you don’t use them properly. Therefore, if you intend to incorporate essential oils into your lifestyle, you should do it with care. First, breastfeeding and pregnant women, children below the age of 12 and senior citizens should not use essential oils without consulting a physician. Also, you should talk to a doctor first before using essential oils, if are under any medications or you have some health concerns like low immunity, high blood pressure or epilepsy
Second, you should never apply undiluted essential oils directly to the skin. Some essential oils can lead to sensitization, irritation as well as allergic reactions if applied undiluted to the skin. Therefore, ensure you dilute them appropriately to prevent such issues. Also, use the smallest amount possible. If the product label says that you should only use a maximum of 2 drops, then you should not use more than that.
Third, when you are using essential oils, ensure you avoid contact with your mouth, eyes, ears, nose, and genitals since they may irritate these organs. Also, you should note that essential oils tend to oxidize over time, making them more sensitizing. Therefore, don’t use improperly stored or old essential oils. And if you experience any irritation, reaction or redness, you should discontinue using them right away.
Fourth, keep essential oils away from children. As much as essential oils are extracted from common spices like oranges, lemons, citrus fruits, and rosemary, they are highly concentrated. Children might end up drinking these oils, leading to extensive organ damage, among other health complications. On the same note, you should not use them on cats, dogs, birds, and other pets. If you want to use them, make sure you first consult a qualified vet so that you can be guided accordingly.
Fifth, only buy essential oils from renowned brands. If you are not careful, you may end up purchasing fake essential oils. Apart from failing to produce desirable results, fake essential oils may also harm your skin. On the same light, avoid essential oils that are sold in plastic bottles or those that have been diluted with vegetable oils.
Thanks to their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, as well as soothing properties, using essential oils on your feet can help to relieve some common foot ailments, alleviate fatigue, and help to keep your feet in great health. But whether you are using a custom blend of several oils or you are using an individual product, you should always dilute essential oils before using them. And if you notice an abnormal reaction on your skin, discontinue using the oils right away and speak to your doctor.