Home Remedies for Foot Conditions: What the Evidence Shows
Duct tape for blisters – Blisters are the result of pressure, shear and friction on the skin, so protecting vulnerable areas on the skin of the feet can help prevent them. No clinical studies have demonstrated the benefits of duct tape in blister prevention, but seasoned hikers and backpackers know that duct tape has multiple uses on the trail, blister protection among them.
Duct tape adheres to the skin, and its relative thickness helps protect areas of the foot that are vulnerable to blistering. If a blister has already occurred, place a bandage or dressing over it and use duct tape to hold the bandage or dressing in place, preventing further friction / shearing, which can worsen the sore. Never place duct tape directly on a formed blister: It will stick to the roof of the blister and tear it off when removed.
Duct tape for warts – Some people report that duct tape is useful in removing warts from the feet, but clinical studies show otherwise.1
Epsom salt soak for sore, tired, or painful feet – Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. There is no published, peer-reviewed research that confirms any benefits of Epsom salt soaking for sore, tired or painful feet. Nevertheless, many people claim to get relief from an Epsom salt soak, and there seems to be no harm from doing so.
Green tea for blisters – Green tea is believed to have some beneficial effects when consumed, but there is no clinical evidence confirming that soaking the feet in green tea can help heal or prevent blisters. Some people feel it soothes the skin around a blister that has already formed.
Kosher salt soak for foot odor (bromhidrosis) – No clinical research suggests this soak is effective in preventing foot odor; however salt has a drying effect on the skin and, by reducing moisture, it may have some benefit in odor reduction. People who use this approach say kosher salt is made of larger crystals than regular table salt, and tends to dissolve better in water.
Lemon juice and water for foot odor (bromhidrosis) – In several published, peer-reviewed studies, lemon juice has been found to have anti-bacterial properties.2,3 In addition, the juice has astringent properties that can assist in the removal of dead skin from the feet. No studies are specific to antimicrobial effects on the feet, but people have reported relief from foot odor using this approach.
Listerine for cleansing and exfoliating – Any benefits for the feet from Listerine mouth wash are strictly anecdotal. However, its active ingredients are known to be effective for several purposes: Benzoic acid helps remove dead skin and ethanol kills bacteria and fungi that can cause athlete’s foot. So, no science, but probably no harm.
Olive oil / vegetable oil for dry and cracked skin – There is no clinical evidence to support the use of olive oil or vegetable oil as skin healing agents; however, at least one study showed benefits of olive oil in healing wounds in mice.4 Anecdotally, people report relief from dry, cracking skin on the heels and other parts of the feet from the use of vegetable oils.
“RICE”- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation— for ankle pain. When someone has a foot injury, especially an ankle sprain, this combination is often recommended for treatment and recovery. However, a recent meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials concluded that those trials did not generate sufficient evidence to show the effectiveness of the approach in treating acute ankle sprains in adults.5 Instead, the analysis concludes, it is best to treat these injuries on a case-by-case basis. The bottom line: Although there is anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of “RICE” in relieving pain and swelling, patients should be advised to check with you after any significant injury or if pain and swelling persist for more than a few hours after an injury.