Antifungal essential oils keep our skin robust, vibrant and healthy. We may think we love mushrooms, whether those magical, red-capped forest inhabitants of fairytales, or juicy portobellos, shiitake and chantrelles on our filet mignon. But when mushrooms attack our keratin– hair, nails, outer layers of our skin– it’s antifungal essential oils to the rescue.

Perhaps it’s just karmic (and fungal) justice. After all, we collect, saute and devour their relatives.

However, there is nothing charming or whimsical about the common fungi which munch on the keratinized protein produced by our bodies. While shamans of ancient cultures may have relied on the otherworldly powers of the Amanita Muscaria or Fly Agaric mushroom, the tiny fungi which cause ringworm, athlete’s foot, dandruff and other skin conditions aren’t so cute. And unlike the Amanita Muscaria, these fungi cannot teach reindeer to fly.

And while we are demystifying woodland creatures, ringworm has nothing to do with worms, though the round, bulls-eye shape of the lesion gives the uncomfortable condition its name. It’s a common fungal infection. Tinea Pedis when they attack the feet, Tinea Corporis when they attack the face, and Tinea Capitis when they attacks the scalp, most fungal infections may cause itching, redness, flaking, scaling and hair-loss.

Ringworm in particular is easily contagious on contact; kids often get it from their classmates. And, if your beloved feline is losing patches of hair, immediately take the cat to the vet for a fungal test. Yes, cats get ringworm and can transmit it to humans by cuddling, or even just contact with the cat’s bedding.

This group of fungi is often associated with sports and athletes, but you don’t have to qualify as an Olympian to get “athlete’s foot” (Tinea Pedis). This fungus, like all mushrooms, loves to make more mushrooms in warm, damp, dark places. Like between your toes, between protected folds of skin, and in the corners of steamy locker rooms. These ‘shrooms lurk in the shadows and lunge at any bite of juicy passing keratin, so the antimicrobial properties of essential oils in the shower may be your first line of defense.

Antifungal essential oils prevent and treat these common conditions by halting the ability of the microfungus to multiply and spread. Adding these antifungal essential oils to your shower or bath, and making your own diluted mix in a handy spray bottle, can help keep unwelcome fungi off your skin. In greater concentrations, these antifungal essential oils may also be used to disinfect tile and other surfaces:

Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Lavender, Lemon, Patchouli,Thyme

Lavender Essential Oil, in fact, has been used for centuries as a mild antiseptic.

Tips to keep in mind to avoid fungal infection:

Don’t share athletic gear

Shower after sports

Dry off your skin thoroughly with a clean, absorbent towel before dressing — especially between toes

Change undies daily

If you have athlete’s foot, dry off your feet completely and put on a pair of clean, dry socks before dressing– the fungal infection on your feet can easily spread to clothes

And, if you’re fond of wearing those squishy-soft sheepskin boots, be sure not to wear them for more than a few hours at a time. If your feet begin to feel damp, remove those boots, wash feet and dry thoroughly. Allow boots to dry thoroughly as well– switch to other shoes every other day. Because when our feet sweat, fungi follow.