A topical anti-fungal is a medication applied to the skin to treat certain fungal infections, such as ringworm and athlete's foot. Anti-fungal drugs are typically prescribed by a doctor, but may also be purchased over-the-counter or made at home using natural ingredients commonly found in drug stores, grocery stores, or perhaps already in your home. Natural topical anti-fungal medications are only recommended for superficial fungus infections that can affect the skin, fingernails and toenails, or hair.
Essential oils are the most commonly used topical anti-bacterial and anti-fungal treatments. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, essential oils have anti-microbial properties that fight bacteria and fungi. There are more than a dozen essential oils. Essential oils most effective in treating fungal infections include lavender oil, glove oil, coconut oil, orange oil, jojoba oil, rosemary oil, oil of oregano, and the most widely used--tea tree oil. Tea tree oil, according to Drug Information Online, can be used for fungal infections, scalp infections, cuts, acne, burns, stings, yeast infections, and even respiratory disorders.
Mix essential oils together or use them on their own. You can apply essential oils straight to the skin, hair and nails, or dilute them with warm water. Mix 1 tbsp. of essential oil with about 2 cups of water. Use a clean cloth or cotton balls to apply the mixture to the skin. Several drops of essential oils may also be added to bath water to fight fungus and body odors. To treat fungus on the scalp, mix a few drops of essential oils into your favorite shampoo and conditioner.
Other Natural Anti-fungals
Vinegar is another helpful topical antibacterial and anti-fungal remedy. White distilled vinegar and apple cider vinegar both inhibit fungus growth. Both can also be used on the skin, hair and nails. Mix 2 oz. of vinegar with about 8 oz. of warm water. Apply the mixture to the skin with a clean cloth or cotton balls several times per day.
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Epsom salt also makes a great natural topical anti-fungal treatment, especially for fungus of the feet. Fill a basin with hot water and pour about 4 oz. of Epsom salt into the water. Once the water is cool enough, soak your feet in the water for about 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat this treatment two or three times per day.
Baking soda, fresh garlic, grapefruit seed extract, olive leaf extract, and lemon grass are other natural products you can use to treat fungus infections. Finally, eat more homemade foods that are great sources of zinc and selenium. Zinc and selenium are dietary supplements that act as antibacterial and anti-fungal agents.
Sarai Jeremiah is a freelance writer and graphic designer living on the East Coast, where she is currently pursuing an education in both fields. She has been writing articles and content on a variety of topics since 2006 and has contributed articles to Web sites such as Spark People.