Health Care Professionals

Home Remedies for Foot Conditions: What the Evidence Shows


Tea tree oil for athlete’s foot – Several clinical studies have shown the antifungal properties of tea tree oil (elaleuca alternifolia). 6,7  Tea tree oil can be purchased over-the-counter, and is known to be an effective astringent and cleansing agent. Tea tree oil has not been shown to treat fungal toenails (onychomycosis) effectively.

Vick’s VapoRub for fungal toenail – Some of the ingredients in this product are known to have anti-fungal properties. A recent small study 8 suggests the treatment might be effective, depending on the causative organism, but more studies are needed to confirm a benefit.

Vinegar bath or soak for cleansing and exfoliating – There is no clinical research that demonstrates benefits of vinegar for cleaning or soaking feet. However, anecdotal evidence suggests vinegar softens skin and has antifungal properties.

Wear longer/wider shoes to reduce foot pain – Foot soreness and pain can have many causes. Although there are no clinical trials to show that trying a larger shoe size can help, common sense suggests it might. Shoes that are too tight or improperly fitted can cause increased pressure on the feet, which in turn can cause soreness and pain. IPFH suggests that clinicians advise patients to get their feet measured each time they purchase new shoes, bearing in mind that different styles may be sized differently.

IPFH also recommends using the integrated approach to selecting and fitting footwear: Wear the socks you intend to wear, along with any insert or orthotic, in the shoes you intend to buy. Make sure you have room to wiggle your toes. Walk around the shoe store to make sure the shoes feel comfortable. Never buy shoes thinking you will “break them in.” They should feel right before you purchase them.



1.  Kwok et al. Topical treatments for cutaneous warts. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 9:CD001781, September, 2012.

2.  Rahman et al. Antibacterial activity of natural spices on multiple drug resistant Escherichia coli. Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, 10: 10, March, 2011.

3.  Bansode and Chavan. Studies on antimicrobial activity and phytochemical analysis of citrus fruit juices against selected enteric pathogens. International Research Journal  of Pharmacy, 3 (11), 2012.

4.  Mehraein et al. Evaluation of effect of oleuropein on skin wound healing in aged male BALB/c mice. Cell Journal, 16(1), February, 2014.

5.  Van den Bekerom et al. What is the evidence for rest, ice, compression, and elevation therapy in the treatment of ankle sprains in adults? Journal of Athletic Training, 47(4), Jul-Aug, 2012.

6.  Flores et al. Antifungal activity of nanocapsule suspensions containing tea tree oil on the growth of trichophyton rubrum. Mycopathologia, 175(3-4), April, 2013.

7.  Pisseri et. al. Antifungal activity of tea tree oil from Melaleuca alternifolia against Trichophyton equinum: an in vivo assay. Phytomedicine, 16(11), November, 2009.

8.  Derby et al. Novel treatment of onychomycosis using over-the-counter mentholated ointment: a clinical case series. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, 24(1), Jan-Feb, 2011.

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