Coconut Oil Cures Foot Fungus

About ten years ago my doctor pointed to a thin white line on my foot: That’s fungus, he said. Huh. He prescribed an  antifungal medicine, previously available only by prescription, that had recently become over-the-counter (OTC). I tried several OTC remedies from my drugstore. None worked. According to the directions, they were to be applied twice per day. My doctor said the reason for the failure was that I hadn’t precisely followed the directions. This reminded me of a doctor who said that fat people know what to do about being fat (eat less) and simply fail to do it.

Years later I discovered that socks matter. With a much larger number of socks, my foot fungus got much better. Apparently the fungus died if it didn’t come in contact with my foot within a week or so. (I had it only on one foot.) With a large number of socks, my foot fungus never got really bad. But it did not entirely go away.

I discovered that tea tree oil works. When my foot fungus got noticeable I would put on some tea tree oil and it would get better.

In January I went back to Berkeley for a month. Without doing anything, my foot fungus seemed to vanish. Apparently being away from my apartment for 4 months was enough to get rid of the fungus. When I returned to Beijing in February, the fungus returned within a day or two. The shape of a particularly bad spot matched exactly where a plastic sandal touched the upper part of my foot.  A sandal I’d worn in the shower to prevent foot fungus.

All this is to show how little I know about foot fungus in spite of having it for years.

In November (3 months ago) a reader of this blog named Chuck Currie wrote me:

Sometime in the spring I noticed that I was getting what looked like a rash around the large toe of my right foot. It began spreading, first under and between my toes and then across the top and then under my foot. There was a definite line with little bumps that showed it progression. And, it itched really bad – like bad athlete’s foot.

In July I was prescribed Nystatin and Triamcinolone Acetonide cream. [I tried this — Seth] I was told to put it on twice a day, which I did. Because I wear flip flops all summer, I didn’t need to cover it. The cream did not work at all. It actually seemed to make it worse.

I have been interested in coconut oil since going paleo, even though I can’t eat it, or coconut milk – they really upset my stomach. I was reading an article on coconut oil that mentioned its anti-fungal properties and I remembered reading this before. So I thought I would give it a try on my foot.

After showering, I cover my foot with coconut oil, place a plastic bag over my foot (the kind you put produce in) to keep it from being wiped off and then place a sock over the bag to hold it on. I leave it on for two or three hours and then take everything off and lightly wipe my foot with a paper towel and go to bed.

I do this three or four nights a week and have been doing it for three months. I knew immediately that it was doing something. My foot became very warm, almost like it was on fire, the first time I did this. It didn’t have this effect the second time. My fungus/rash started to retreat. My skin would dry out and flake off between sessions, like I was using an exfoliate.

Then I noticed that my [toenail fungus] started to clear up and I could see the nail growing from the cuticle on my big toe was clear, not yellow and thick. By now the line has progressed two thirds of the way up my toe. At this rate, it should be completely clear in another couple of months.

I still get small flare ups of the rash/fungus on my foot, but it has almost completely cleared up. You can still see where it had been. The skin is dryer and lighter in color than the rest of the foot.

I think if I had done this every night the progress would have been faster. I’m now starting to put a small amount of coconut oil on the top of my foot in the morning and letting it air out for a while before putting on my socks and shoes. When the fungus was on the bottom of my foot this was not possible, but now that it only seems to be on the top, this works and I think this will speed up the process. The best thing is there are no bad effects. I use extra virgin, cold pressed, unprocessed coconut oil. My understanding is that heat processed coconut oil does not have the same anti-fungal properties.

Pretty convincing, huh? In Berkeley I bought Whole Foods house brand coconut oil (cold-pressed). Edible was cheaper than non-edible. In Beijing, after my foot fungus had gotten quite noticeable, I started to use it. At bedtime, I rub it all over my foot, put my foot in a thin plastic bag, and put on a sock. When I get up, I take off the sock and the plastic bag.

After doing this once, my foot was much better. After five applications, I couldn’t detect any fungus. Application is pleasant (without trying, I don’t miss a night) and, as Chuck says, obviously safe — I could eat what I am spreading on my foot. It costs a few dollars/month. Tea tree oil works, too, but it wasn’t easy to spread all over my foot, wasn’t pleasant to apply, wasn’t edible, and cost $15/tiny bottle. On the internet you can find many home remedies, such as soaking your feet in apple cider vinegar. Apparently they work. This is much easier.

If you try this, please tell me your experience, whether it works or not.

14 Replies to “Coconut Oil Cures Foot Fungus”

  1. I recently got 2 spots of what appeared to be Ringworm on my shoulder. I tried coconut oil on them daily for about a week and a half, but it didn’t help. Of course, I didn’t cover it up, maybe that would have helped.

    Tinactin (2x a day) worked in a week. Natural cures so seldom work for me. It’s frustrating, I try them often.

    So far the vitamin D hasn’t helped my sleep much, either. It may have helped my rosacea, but that always goes away when warmer weather starts, and so I can’t be sure why it’s finally gone for the winter.

    I’ve been taking Vitamin D for about 6 weeks, starting with 2000 iu a day, and working up to 6000, the same Trader Joes brand that Primal Girl uses. I haven’t noticed much of a difference, but it’s hard to measure it much in my case as I have rather little control over when and how long I sleep. I co-sleep with my 3-year-old, who wakes me up often to nurse in the night, and of course when she wakes up in the morning I have to get up, and I can’t go to sleep at night before she does… The help I need with my sleep, is being able to go back to sleep again after having been awoken. Also, being able to go to sleep quickly when we go to bed is sometimes a problem. The vitamin D may be helping a bit with these things but it’s hard to be sure.

  2. I would guess that processed coconut oil should still have the same effects, as I think the anti-microbial/fungal/etc properties are from the fatty acids. Is there a proposed reason as to why processing/filtering would remove those properties?

    Seth: Heat might destroy the crucial enzymes or whatever. Filtering might remove them. It’s easy to think of reasons.

  3. This is why I so appreciate your blog: such a wide range of topics, such practical information, such detailed personal evidence. I’ve read in a number f places that coconut oil was anti-fungal, but references were so vague that I didn’t know what to do with that information. This is so specific with real life evidence. Thank you so much! I will try it.

  4. It’s fascinating, yet it makes sense. Coconuts have to hang in the blazing sun for weeks without being eaten alive by all manner of life.

  5. I forced my toenail fungus into a major retreat by switching to the Perfect Health Diet (which added more carbs, which, according to Paul, supplies the body the glucose needed to fight fungal infections). I also added in a number of their recommended supplements. And I soak my feet daily in Epsom Salts and apply an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream. Although most of the fungus has disappeared, some remains; I can feel numbness when I lightly tap my toes on the floor. (Plus there is visual evidence.)

    I’m glad you brought up the story about the socks; I have been wearing Chinese cotton slippers this winter, without socks, which makes me think that perhaps the fungus has settled into them.

    I started the cider vinegar treatment several days ago, followed by drying my toes in the sun, and then topping with coconut oil. However, the coconut oil I have been using is refined and doesn’t say anything about being cold-pressed. I will change to virgin, cold-processed, unprocessed coconut oil, and also try the plastic bag technique. Will let you know if anything changes.

    Seth: Yeah, I think there is something to the idea that a low-carb diet makes you more susceptible to fungal infections. I am beginning to think I don’t eat enough carbs.

  6. i wonder if it is because the coconut oil is preventing the fungus from getting oxygen to live? sort of like when you want to get a tick out, you rub it with crisco?

  7. I’ve never heard of the crisco trick to get rid of ticks but I bet it works great. A warm bath will make them let go, so that’s what we use.

    There is definitely a link between low carb diets & skin problems. I started a very low carb diet in the fall of 2010. About a year ago (spring 2011) I developed skin problems on my arms, back & scalp. I don’t have a definite diagnosis, but based on appearance & from what I can find online, I think it’s keratosis pilaris on my arms & psoriasis on my scalp. I’ve added carbs back into my diet, have vastly increased my vitamin A intake, & I’m sitting here with coconut oil on my scalp & hair. It feels good, sure hope it helps! I did it once before but have trouble sleeping with a plastic on my head, so it’s tough to do often.

  8. I developed toenail fungus after a couple years of vegatarianism; I think there’s something to be said about zinc deficiency and nail/skin susceptibility to infections. Anyway, I turned to a Perfect Health Diet-ish diet and starting supplementing zinc. I’ve been rubbing coconut oil on my foot and nails every night. I also mixed some rubbing alcohol with some apple cider vinegar, put it in a little spray bottle, and spray it all over my foot every morning (it smells pretty bad, but the smell dissipates fairly quickly). It’s been about 10 months, and my toenails look close to perfect. Hard to say which thing made it work (zinc, diet, alcohol+ACV, coconut oil). Normal toenails are awesome!

  9. That’s pretty fascinating, actually. I’ve never heard of coconut oil being used in this way (as a medication, more or less).

    I bet your foot (or feet) were silky smooth after these treatments as well!

  10. After reading this blog entry I started using coconut oil instead of olive oil as a moisturizer (I get cracks in my hands). It works much better, hands aren’t getting cracks any more. I’ll see if it keeps working.

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